CARTOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF GENERAL GEOGRAPHIC
ELEMENTS IN CHILDREN’S MENTAL MAPS
State Company “GIS-Centras”
The present paper presents the results obtained by analysis of submissions to the
B.Petchenik‟s Children‟s World Map Competition in Lithuania in 2005. The research was
initiated after noticing that most of the submissions could be analyzed as mental maps that
reflect children‟s cognition and evaluation of geographical environment as well as their
cartographic knowledge – not only what has been learned at school, but also the relationships
between elements of geographical environment, which have been intuitively perceived. The
drawings show a reduced and generalized model of surrounding environment, where
individual symbols are used. So they could be considered mental maps. Mental maps were
defined as individual systems of spatial references, which have no material form. Still there is
no universally accepted methodology of their visualization and research. The authors of the
paper have compared the children‟s drawings with traditional maps looking for cartographic
elements, which were identified and classified according to a relation to ordinary map
elements. This method allows measuring cartographic knowledge and intuitive cartographic
thinking, which reflects in drawings where mental maps were graphically conveyed by the
authors. The described research is a part of a broader investigation, which aims at evaluation
of the importance of children‟s mental maps research, finding out and description of their
peculiarities and creation of a methodology of geographic analysis for such works. It is
expected that the results of this research will help to form a methodology for development of
cartographic perception for children.
CONCEPTION OF MENTAL MAP
Definition of Mental Map
R.M. Downs and D. Stea (Downs, 1990, Stea, 1998) defined the term mental mapping
as a process composed of a sequence of psychological transformations during daily navigation
through physical space detecting, coding, storing, reconstructing and decoding of the
information about the relative position and properties of objects.
When an individual faces a new experience he has to explore it, assimilate, compare
with the already existing one and introduce it into his mental outfit. If the newly acquired
knowledge or part of it do not correspond to or confront with the familiar information the
individual simply rejects or ignores it or, if the information is undeniable, changes his
Mental maps usually are poor in geographical objects. The geographical information
includes the visited objects, ridden roads, heard or read information, knowledge about
distances, climate zones, and neighbouring countries. Historical or linguistic knowledge may
strongly influence the mental mapping. Mental maps have many mistakes which largely
depend on individual education. Thus, mental maps are a reflection of individual knowledge
and perception and interpretation of the world as a geographical space.
According to Y-F. Tuan (Tuan, 1975), mental maps should not be perceived as mere
mental images resembling real maps which we use in our everyday life. They are a reflection
of more sophisticated spatial perception. Mental maps may not have common cartographic
constructions. They are composed not only of images but also of emotions. According to D.
Pocock (Pocock, 1979), part of individual„s spatial perception can be conveyed neither
cartographically nor in any other way.
These ideas were supported by R. Golledge (Golledge, 1992, 1997) who believed that
a mental map does not resemble a cartographic map because it is not a real though diminished
view of the world and correctness is not its requisite feature. In Gollege‟s opinion, specific
cartographic knowledge is not necessary for reading a mental map. Yet this view narrows even
the classic definition of a map confirmed by the International Cartograpic Association
(www.icaci.org): “Map is a symbolized image of geographical reality, representing selected
features or characteristics, resulting from the creative effort of its author's execution of
choices, and is designed for use when spatial relationships are of primary relevance”. If mental
map was conveyed graphically, it would be nothing else but a diminished and generalized
image of geographical reality with emphasized role of spatial relations and author‟s subjective
choices of objects and their properties.
In authors‟ opinion, mental maps are a specific kind of maps and, concomitantly, an
object of scientific research.
Mental map should be defined as a cartographically conveyed subjective perception of
real geographical space predetermined by education, psychological attitude and other factors.
Mental maps of the same space are different for every individual but they may be generalized
for social groups on regional, national, cultural or other bases.
Overview of Investigations
The rudiments of mental maps can be followed back to the teaching methods used for
training teachers of oratory in the ancient Rome. Students of oratory used to memorize their
speeches by spatial perception method: a student memorizes the image of physical place (for
example, the arrangement of rooms in a house) every object of which is linked with a word or
a phrase to be learned. Walking about the house the students tried to remember the meaning
attributed to each place.
Mental maps and their use attracted more serious interest only in the middle of the 20th
century. In the 70ties, when the importance of this kind of maps was fully recognized, the
fundamentals of their conception were started to be developed. At the beginning, efforts were
directed at formulating the concept of mental map. i.e. at defining what mental map was (D.
Gould, H. White, R. M. Downs, D. Stea, R. J. Stimson, B. Tversky) and whether it could be
regarded as a map in all (R. G. Golledge). E. C. Tolman studied and compared mental maps of
humans and rats. K. Lynch used mental maps in his studies of urban design.
Today, most of the people have a sufficiently broad and correct perception of the
universe. Whereas very limited intuitive knowledge about the planet supplemented with
imagined and fantastic objects are often reflected in children‟s subconscious and in their
creative works which can be regarded as cartographic. Contrary to mental maps of adults,
which almost always are images of the universe levelled by information, mental maps of
children convey reality which is not affected by preconceived notions, tradition or other
In the 80ties, the interest in children‟s mental maps strengthened and they were
investigated in different aspects. Magazine “Professional Geographer” published a series of
articles related with the studies of mental maps of adults and children. Some time later,
Skelton and Valentine compiled a collection of publications devoted to theoretical
perspectives related with debates about spatial perception by children and youth. These
publications analyse the links of youngsters with concrete places and assume that young
people are forced to create their own private spaces. S. Ruddick supported this idea. He
pointed out the importance of understanding the needs of youth and the most important things
in their environment. The understanding could be achieved by cognitive mapping.
Many scientific studies go into children‟s ability to picture what is in their
consciousness. There have been many discussions as to children‟s ability to convey their
perception of own place and location. Undoubtedly, children‟s drawing skills and skills of
conveyance of own spatial perception develop rather slowly and limit the possibilities of
conveyance of conscious images (S.J. Catling).
The works of R. M. Downs, L. S. Liben and J. M. Blaut are devoted to children‟s
spatial perception (Downs, 1990, Blaut, 1999). It is argued whether a child is able to
understand maps, aero photographs and other forms of spatial information. Downs and Liben
believe that kindergartners are too young to perceive space depicted in symbols therefore they
are unable to determine the links between objects. It is assumed that namely gradual and
integrated training of mapping skills can help to develop this ability. Whereas D. Stea (Stea,
1998) asserts that the newly acquired linguistic and sensomotoric abilities that are unrelated
with spatial perception may inhibit the development of the skills of mental mapping. Thus a
map or a mental map is an important tool of training spatial cognition.
Some authors analysed the dependence of mental mapping ability on the child‟s age
(R.D. Sack) and sex. It has been reported that boys demonstrate better understanding of spatial
links and notions than girls (M.H. Matthews).
In his project “Children‟s mental maps and design of the neighbourhood of Abu-Nuseir
(Jordan) A.Y Al-Zoabi analysed how children interact with the environment and how urban
designers could make use of this information forming a locality meeting children‟s
expectations. Children‟s mental maps have been analysed in terms of age, sex, family earnings
A discussion is going on as to the social-economic factors forming mental maps. It has
been reported that social and economic status is responsible for children‟s different
environments (Chemers, Altman, Ward) and the features of these environments (pleasant and
unpleasant) are reflected in their mental maps.
Problems of Analysis of Mental Maps
Analysis of mental maps is not an easy task. It is possible to see and analyse these
maps in two ways:
a) The objects of mental map and their links are found out by inquiry and their
schematic depiction. This method allows acquisition of intended part of mental map and the
graphic depiction not necessarily is similar to the mental image of the author;
b) The mental image of environment is drawn by the author. Information acquired by
this method is more abundant and diverse.
A twofold problem occurs in the case of graphic expression by the author. On the one
hand, it is necessary to evaluate child‟s possibility to convey the imagined reality on a plane
accurately (by drawing or other means). On the other hand, it is necessary to evaluate the
portions of mental image and acquired knowledge in the conveyed mental map.
Catling in his works discusses children‟s ability to accurately convey the mental
image. It is reported that child‟s drawing and spatial conveyance skills are permanently
developing. Spatial perception of the universe by children until six years of age is egocentric.
In about the seventh year of age, the perception of the universe becomes more objective. Until
ten years of age, children acquire skills which help to perceive the space notionally and to
D. Stea believes that when child‟s verbal and writing skills are rudimentary the mental
map may be the best way of conveying the perception of the surrounding space.
Children‟s mental maps often become an object of research despite certain difficulties.
Attempts are made to acquire knowledge about children‟s perception and predetermining
factors through the forms of depicted bodies, chosen colours, relative sizes, chosen objects for
depiction, distances and subscripts.
Once a conclusion was made that drawings of mental spatial images are maps they
were analysed in cartographic aspect, i.e. through a scale, cartographic grid and projection,
topographic information and conventional signs.
CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS AS MENTAL MAPS
The international children‟s mental map competitions have been organized by the
International Cartographic Association since 1993 (every two years) in commemoration of
Barbara Petchenic, former vice-president of ICA, who had for a long time worked with maps
designed for children. The main objectives of the competitions were: to develop children‟s
knowledge of geography and cartography, promote creative efforts, improve the perception of
the immediate surroundings and encourage a global attitude towards it.
Seven hundred thirty six children‟s mental maps have been submitted during the whole
history of the international competition (Europe – 404, Asia – 125, N. America – 77, S.
America – 67, Africa – 31, Australia and New Zeeland – 27, and C. America – 7). The leading
positions were taken by: Europe – 33, Asia – 16, N. America – 6, S. America – 6, Africa – 5,
Australia and New Zeeland – 2.
The international competition has been organized in Lithuania since 2005. It is
coordinated by the Lithuanian Cartographic Society. The organizers received 753 drawings of
children of different age (Fig. 1; A–C). The best works were exposed at the Teachers‟ School
in Vilnius. Five of the drawings were submitted for the final approval at the Conference of the
International Cartographic Association in Spain where the total of 133 children‟s mental maps
selected by national organizers was evaluated. Lithuanian representative Gintarė Kvietkute (13
years of age; Fig. 1) was among the twelve winners.
girls boys country
4-7 8-11 12-15
A. Age, years B. Sex C. Territory
D. Gintare Kvietkute, 13 E. Vilius Skrinska, 8
Fig. 1. Children‟s map contest in Lithuania; Distribution of the submissions by age, sex and
mapped territory (A–C); the winners: international (D), Lithuanian (E)
It should be noted that although the mentioned competition was for the first time organized in
Lithuania in 2005 already in 1993, Alfonsas Lekavicius from Lithuania was among the winners
of the first competition organized by B. Petchenik.
These results are cheering. Lithuanian representatives participated only twice and twice were
among the winners. The access of A. Lekavicius‟ submission among the one hundred World‟s
best children maps printed in the book „Children Map of The World. Selections from the Barbara
Petchenik Children„s World Map Competition“ was an even more honoured recognition. Thus,
we may conclude that Lithuanian children have specific perception of the universe and possess a
great cartographic potential.
CARTOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS IN CHILDREN’S MENTAL MAPS
The present work analyses the general geographical and cartographic elements of children‟s
mental maps. Analysis of these elements helps to understand the general laws of perception of the
universe by children and the regularities of children‟s perception depending on the age, sex, etc.
The geographical spatial perception is reflected in mental maps by territorial and thematic
elements: universe, general view of the world, settlements, and natural objects, cultural, political
and social–economic territorial peculiarities. Yet as was mentioned above, researchers have
determined that depending on the age, sex and social–economic status of children the
geographical spatial perception differs. As a child is growing up, his perception of the universe
changes (Sack): from point objects perception proceeds to linear objects and then to the
environment around the linear objects and further to notional perception of the links between
point and linear objects. Therefore, we can expect that in the mental maps of small children one
may find individual unrelated things and phenomena of the real world. The maps of older
children should be based on a more abstract image of the real objects with more sophisticated
spatial interrelations. Mental maps also depend on children‟ education: the mental maps of
kindergartners should be predominated by the nearest reality because children of this age are yet
unable to perceive larger spaces. The maps of older children should contain elements of “real‟
maps: the shape of a country/continent, hydrography, settlements, etc. about which children learn
at school or which are perceived based on individual experience.
Analysis of the elements of cartographic mental maps allows understanding of the
relationship between the reality and imagination in children‟s mental maps and estimating
cartographic knowledge of children. For this purpose, ability to generalize, symbols, elements
of mathematical basis (scale, cartographic grid and cartographic projection), and general
topographic information were studied. Great attention also was paid to transformation of
cartographic image because it demonstrates the child‟s sub-conscious spatial perception.
Scale is the essential feature of cartogramphic basis of a map. Its perception allows a
rather precise localization of objects and comparison of the distances on a map. Combinations
of different scales in children‟s mental maps show how children perceive distances and how or
whether at all they perceive dimensions. Out of 788 children‟s submissions only 10 (about
1.3%) had an indicated scale; as a rule, the scale was expressed in numbers. Though the linear
scale should be more acceptable to children they did not use it. Probably, this can be
accounted for by the dominant Lithuanian cartographic tradition. Some of the submission
(13.2%) had more than one (though not indicated) scale. These works were especially
interesting due to depiction of territorial units of different importance at a relevant (in author‟s
opinion) scale. Egle Grigaite very visually combined different scales in her drawing (Fig. 2,
A). The scale is growing left to right, i.e. from the global to the local (planar view).
A: Egle Grigaite, 15 B: Gabija Razanskaite, 12
Fig. 2: Different scales combined in one drawing. A – The scale grows left to right from global to
local planar view. B – Lithuania is shown at a largest scale in the uppermost part of the map
Different scales also were combined in the drawings for hierarchical arrangement of
territories. Gabija Ražanskaitė depicts Lithuania (Fig. 2, B) as the main object of the map at a
largest scale and in the uppermost part of the vertical axis of the map.
Though there were not many submissions where more than one scale was combined, they
present an opportunity to carry out an interesting investigation of how children evaluate and
depict territories at local, national, regional and global levels.
The cartographic grid – a network of meridians and parallels – reduces the map into
separate small easily identified areas. In this way, the vast amount of information is reduced to
smaller elements facilitating its detection.
Most of children do not use cartographic grids in their drawings. Yet the grids
occurring in drawings are characterized by great diversity. In many drawings they are just
copied. Very precisely presented cartographic grids (without creative aspect) allow making a
conclusion that they, together with the remaining cartographic material, are merely copied
from a map without any relation with the map image.
Some drawings have not very precise (in most cases without digital expressions) grids
which resemble drawing decorations. Sometimes there occur very original analogues of
cartographic grids, for example, lines on a basketball identified with the globe divided into the
northern–southern and eastern–western hemispheres (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3. Fictitious “cartographic” grid
Yet the absolute majority of children‟s drawings have no cartographic grid at all.
Almost all maps depicting only a part of the globe have no cartographic grid. This is,
presumably, accounted for by poor cartographic knowledge and concentration on more
important – thematic – aspects, unwillingness to “spoil” the visual quality of the drawing by
reducing it to small elements or, merely, disregard of cartographic grid in creative process.
Due to orbicular properties of our planet, the planar projection of the Earth surface
cannot be done without certain deformations. A lot of cartographic projections have been
developed in order to possibly reduce the deformations yet new solutions are still to be made.
Children‟s drawings are characterized by an especially great variety of “cartographic”
projections. The common copied projections – Mercator‟s, Robinson‟s, Stab-Werner‟s or
Bonne‟s – are used. Yet often original projections are created using rich imagination. Children
project the Earth surface both on a plane and on three-dimensional objects. Though many
projections customary some creative solutions are much unexpected. Original “cartographic”
projections often are produced by transference of the image of Earth surface on a relevantly-
shaped toy, plant or animal (Fig. 4., A).
A: Daina Sakenyte, 13 B: Aiste Baltraityte, 14
Fig. 4. Original „projections“: A – Earth surface projected on a turtle shell, B –
continents projected on a flower blossom.
Some intuitively created cartographic projections are very interesting and demonstrate
the authors‟ ability to apply the poor cartographic knowledge in stock. Projection of continents
on flower petals which remind small areas of the globe cut along the meridians may serve as a
good example (Fig. 4., B).
The elements of cartographic fundamentals in children‟s mental maps can be evaluated
according to relationship between the geographical knowledge and imagination used in
creating certain elements and according to the demonstrated ability to manipulate them.
The possible general evaluations:
• an element is depicted expressively, copied from an available map without accessory
interpretation (for example, lines of cartographic grid in no way related with the image);
• an element is constructed applying the learnt rules, used consciously, adapted for expression
of original ideas (for example, combination of a few scales, conveyance of their hierarchy and
grid reducing the space into meaningful regions) with a clear idea what it is and what it is
• an element is formed intuitively, it is original, decorative, has fictitious features (for
example, scale: the Earth is depicted as a part of something bigger, emphasized perception and
depiction of the universe; the Earth is identified with an object in a familiar environment – for
example, a kitten playing with the globe, the Earth floating in an ocean);
• is absent, not emphasized or not applied.
The scale in children‟s drawings was evaluated according to a few criteria. There were
drawings where the scale was expressed in numbers. These works show that the authors
perceive the importance of the main factor lending mathematical basis to cartographic image
and prove the cartographic sophistication. Of special interest are the drawings with a few
combined (though mathematically not expressed) scales. In this way, the author gives weight
to some territory or emphasizes relationship or dependence. These works are a perfect material
for scientists to study children‟s mental maps. When evaluating the scale in children‟s
drawings, special attention was paid to the drawings in which the globe was depicted as
surrounded by real or imagined universe what implied a broad spatial perception. The
drawings where the scale was not emphasized were distinguished.
Projection was evaluated according to the degree of originality and interpretation.
Drawings were selected which have almost no importance for studies of children‟s mental
maps. They were copies of maps. The drawings with obvious author‟s interpretation using a
preferred cartographic projection were regarded as informative. These works show child‟s
ability to use the available information and apply it for his own needs. They also demonstrate
child‟s personal territorial evaluation and perception. The drawings with original cartographic
projections were regarded as especially valuable.
Most of children‟s drawings have no cartographic grid. Yet though rare it appears as a
“real” cartographic image. The cartographic grid in children‟s drawings was evaluated visually
by determining the extent of original interpretation. Copies were selected which have no
greater importance for investigations of mental mapping but evidence that children are
familiar with cartographic production.
Table 1. Projection in children‟s mental maps
Copied Interpreted Original Unidentified
Projection 15.5 % 41.6 % 24.6 % 18.3 %
Table 2. Grid in children‟s mental maps
Copied Interpreted Imitation Not present
Grid 8.2 % 6.2 % 4.9 % 80.7 %
Table 3. Scale in children‟s mental maps
Numeric Several Earth in space Concept ignored
Scale 4.1 % 13.2 % 34.9 % 47.8 %
THEMATIC INFORMATION IN CHILDREN’S MENTAL MAPS
Specific Features of Thematic Information in Children’s Mental Maps
The title of the children‟s mental maps competition “Many countries – one world”
predetermined the general topics of submissions. They were: solidarity, friendship among
countries, integrity, and peace.
The idea of integrity and solidarity is conveyed in children‟s drawings in various
original ways: the globe is depicted as a seedbed producing an integrated object – aim – which
is rendered as a flower or tree; continents are linked by linear objects as if “arm in arm”; the
depicted Oikumena is engirdled with chosen objects, in most cases flowers, children or peace
doves, strengthening an impression of integrated world. Many animals and plants unrelated
with the national level are drawn on the globe as if uniting the continents into an integrated
planet and creating an impression of free movement.
Inga Jančytė, 14 Vytautas Mickus, 12 Oksana Vasiljeva, 15
Fig. 5. Examples of geopolitical ideas in children‟s maps
Nevertheless, in the context of common idea it is possible to notice a variety of topics:
specific natural and anthropogenic objects, fictitious spaces and objects, reflections of
different social psychological aspects: cultural conflicts, friendship among nations, unions, etc.
(Fig. 5). In comparison with the general information, the “thematic” information is usually
very expressive and shows interesting trends. This opens a vista for further investigations.
Possibilities and Trends of Thematic Information Analysis
Main trends of mental map investigations (sections of analysis) are the following:
1. Geographical coverage and context: the scale and environment of depicted space, most
“well-liked” (often beneficently depicted) territories, emphasis on Europe and Lithuania as
own living environment, and reflections of other geographical knowledge depending on the
2. Cartographic cognition: the discussed elements of cartographic basis, general geographical
information, conventional signs and their analogues, legends, precision and information of
cartographic image, and methods of cartographic conveyance.
3. Stylistic features: colour schemes, diversity of depicted objects, technique of performance
4. Linking of continents and countries with other objects: people (the globe as a part of human
body, the planet in the human hand, etc.), zoomorphism (the planet as an animal), and other
objects and related associations (flowers, trees, houses, etc.).
5. Diversity and intensity of conveyed ideas: friendship among nations, peace, journeys;
elements of irony or satire.
6. A reflection of social-information environment of author‟s.
Perception of the elements of cartographic basis is clearly expressed in few works
though many of them are distinguished for improvisations on the topic of these elements
implying the presence of cartographic perception. Perception of scale is relatively strongest.
Cartographic grid in children‟s drawings commonly is not designed for orientation but is used
as a decoration or imitation of once seen cartographic image.
The thematic information in children‟s mental maps is interpreted more freely and is
marked by variety of ideas. It is a perfect material for further investigations of mental maps.
Children‟s mental maps can be investigated in different aspects. Using a relevant
method of analysis it is possible to obtain much objective information about children‟s
perception and evaluation of geographical environment and manifestations of cartographic
perception what is especially interesting in small children.
An atlas of children‟s mental maps is one of the intended results of this study. It is
expected that such an atlas would help to develop cartographic and geographical perception
and would be a good cartographic visual aid. The demand for such atlas, the tasks to be solved
by it and the target groups will be determined. It is desirable that the atlas bears a complex
character: most typical maps will be supplied with cartographic and psychological analysis.
There are expectations to prepare a digital version of the atlas to be disseminated among
schools as a teaching aid.
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Kristina Gurjanovaite, Giedre Beconyte
CARTOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF GENERAL GEOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS IN
CHILDREN MENTAL MAPS
The paper discusses the results of the analysis of submissions sent for the International
B.Petchenik Children‟s map competition in Lithuania in 2005. The research was initiated after
noticing that the most of submissions could be analyzed as mental maps that reflect children‟s
cognition and evaluation of geographical environment as well as their knowledge of
cartography – not only what has been learned at school, but also relationships between
elements of geographical environment, which have been intuitively understood. The drawings
show a reduced and generalized model of surrounding environment, where individual symbols
are used. So they could be considered mental maps. Mental maps were defined as individual
systems of spatial references, which have no material form. Still there is no universally
accepted methodology of their visualization and research. The authors of the paper have
compared the children‟s drawings with traditional maps looking for cartographic elements,
which were identified and classified according to relation to ordinary map elements. Such
method allows to measure cartographic knowledge and intuitive cartographic thinking, which
reflects in drawings, where mental maps were graphically rendered by the authors themselves.
The elements of cartographic base in children mental maps can be evaluated by the
relationship among demonstrated cartographic knowledge, amount of imagination used for
designing the element and ability to manipulate the element seeking to convey a
corresponding message. The following types of use of cartographic elements have been
distinguished (the results are summarized in Tables 1–3):
A copy of the element from a real map without any interpretation.
The element designed consciously applying cartographic rules and personal
The element designed intuitively, original with fantastic features.
The element is not present or not emphasized.
The use of scale have been analyzed in different aspects. Special attention was paid to
the paintings which employ several scales although they may be not explicitly indicated. This
is the way how the author assigns special importance to some territory, stresses on the spatial
relationship or dependence. Such paintings are very good materials for analysis of children
mental maps (Fig. 2). Very interesting are the paintings where the Earth is shown surrounded
by the universe or a phantastic space. In many cases they reveal a specific perception of the
Use of map projection was evaluated according to whether it was originally chosen,
copied or interpreted. The paintings with various interpretations of cartographic projections
are of the biggest interest when cartographic cognition is concerned. They show that a child is
able to apply his cartographic and geographic knowledge for his own purposes. Also such
mental maps often reflect personal evaluations of different territories. On the other hand the
most important paintings for analysis of contents of children„s mental maps are the ones with
originally designed cartographic projections (Fig. 4).
The majority of children paintings does not have any cartographic grid at all but
individual approach to grid-like lines can be noticed in some of them (Fig. 3).
It is possible to see variety of themes within the main idea of the contest: there are
specific natural and anthropogenic objects, fantastic spaces and objects shown on children„s
maps, they reflect diverse socio-psychological aspects – cultural conflicts, friendship of
nations, spatial preferences etc. (Fig. 5). Such thematic information is generally more
expressed than general geographic and cartographic information and reflects interesting trends
of spatial thinking. It opens many possibilities for the future research.
Gurjanovaite K., Beconyte G. Cartographic analysis of general geographic elements in children
mental maps. Geography. Scientific Journal. 2007. Vol. 43 (1)
The paper discusses the results of the analysis of submissions sent for the International
B.Petchenik Children‟s Map Competition in Lithuania in 2005. The research was initiated after
noticing that the most of submissions could be analyzed as mental maps that reflect children‟s
cognition and evaluation of geographical environment as well as their cartographic knowledge – not
only what has been learned at school, but also relationships between elements of geographical
environment, which have been intuitively understood. The drawings show a reduced and generalized
model of surrounding environment, where individual symbols are used. So they could be considered
mental maps. Mental maps were defined as individual systems of spatial references, which have no
material form. Still there is no universally accepted methodology of their visualization and research.
The authors of the paper have compared the children‟s drawings with traditional maps looking for
cartographic elements, which were identified and classified according to relation to ordinary map
elements. Such method allows to measure cartographic knowledge and intuitive cartographic thinking,
which reflects in drawings, where mental maps were graphically conveyed by the authors. Described
research is a part of a broader investigation, which aims to evaluate the importance of children mental
maps research, to find out and describe their peculiarities and to create a methodology of geographic
analysis for such works. It is expected that the results of this research will help to form methodology
for development of cartographical perception for children.
References 12. Figs 5. Tables 3. Lithuanian, summary in English.
Keywords: cartography, mental map, children, geographic information, mental space, maps