I have been working with a class of P2’s on developing Mind Mapping skills. Many of these children have a relatively impoverished linguistic background which means that they find it hard to attune to formal school language.

A Mind Map is most useful when it encapsulates the thoughts and ideas of an individual. Whether another person can read or interpret it is less important than that the creator has ownership, has designed her own web and made her own connections.

In order to achieve this effectively the creator must distil her thoughts into as few words or images as possible. Many children and young people find this process excruciatingly difficult. Note making requires deep understanding of the topic and a sophisticated ability to summarise and refine.

My first action with a group of such inexperienced thinkers is to get them to make connections. This took some time. At first they were tempted just to draw the same object again. Once I had publicly approved a couple of more divergent examples of thinking most of the class began to make their own less conventional connections.

I presented them with a series of pictures (borrowed from Eva Hoffman’s book, ‘Introducing Children to Mind Mapping’) and asked them to draw what came to mind.

Here are some of the ideas:

And some more:

I particularly enjoyed the dramatic POP of the balloon and the ‘cute baby’ inspired by the monkey. The big ears of the listener to the ‘noisy’ guitar are also enchanting. The monkey on a swing, the ladybird inspired by the butterfly and the connection between butterflies and balloons are good examples of thinking beyond the obvious.

Inspired by the exhortation to ‘think big’ some children began to draw elaborate pictures of rock concerts for the guitar but sadly ran out of time before they could be completed.

Tomorrow we move on to make a ‘cloud chain’ from an initial idea (a teddy bear, then the sun).

We can then progress to using the Kidspiration software to create Mind Maps that don’t depend on drawing skill or pencil control.

It’s good fun!