I think it's important that little ones become familiar with maps. I bring out the maps in my classroom all the time. In fact, my little ones tend to tease me and say "there she goes again" when someone mentions a place, and I pull down the map or start to google on the laptop/ projector. Of course, I consider that a compliment!
Brain research teaches us that making connections helps new information stick. When children have conversations about places on the map, they're making and reinforcing those connections. The children in my second grade had delightful conversations when using these maps. I love the excitement when they realize they knew something about a place on a map!
I have some boys that are real sports fans, and they were making their own icons on their maps for their favorite sports teams!
Click HERE to download freebie. Enjoy!