Circle, Tree or Brace-Thinking maps are useful and fun!

                              circle map

  bubble map

                                                               brace map

The Question:
I attended a workshop today on Thinking Maps. I am required to implement the first map on Monday. I am wanting feedback from other kindergarten teachers who are using these in their classes. I am still very skeptical and need some reassuring that this will work, or some “tricks” you have learned to make this a smooth and successful transition.
The Answers:
Allison Hammond 
I loved using Circle Maps with my kids. There were a million ways to work it into the day! I also really enjoyed the Brace Maps – for parts of a flower, parts on a apple, body parts, etc. Talk with your supervisor about how many and what kinds you’re required to do for kinder. Some are just not realistic!
Nancy Broussard 
Start with simple maps. Bubble maps are used often in my classroom. I use them to tie social living concepts to reading. We use thinking maps from k-5.
Deirdre Ingram
Start with Circle Maps. Use pictures, words, or both.
Ann Herrington Guess 
We have been given a schedule. We are to teach one a week for 8 weeks until all have been taught. We are required to use all 8. How do your kids do when they make them by themselves?
Sandra Hogan 
Flow maps are great to use for sequencing! We also used a double bubble to compare day and night. My k students worked with the alphabet using a bridge map (a is to apple what b is to banana). We have used them for bring home many concepts.
Dana McMinn Westveer 
We were also given a schedule to use all 8. I did them whole group, not individually. And lots of pictures!
Erica Cooper Sturgeon
 We do Thinking Maps at our school and are actual easier than they seem. Circle Maps are, of course, the easiest and can be done with any subject. This year I did ones on Fall, Bats, and Pumpkins. I did a Brace Map on parts of a pumpkin. And my co-worker did parts of a snowman. Tree Maps are great when you use the words- are, have- can. Such as..Penguins are…penguins have, penguins can… Flow maps are great for sequencing and the Kinders can just draw pictures in the squares…for instance, How to build a snowman or make hot chocolate. Look on Pinterest and you’ll find TONS of ideas. Of course most of these are done whole group but it’s not impossible to be done individually if very simple.
Sam Hart 
I love thinking maps! Bubble maps and circle maps are the ones I use the most!!
Kristine Blackwell 
Use a flow chart with pictures. I have several (how a tree grows, how a pumpkin grows, etc) Its great to do and then at centers they can put them in order. I also bubble map word families.
Angela Rushing Sievers 
I love thinking maps! We do lots of circle maps to introduce topics. We do bubble maps to help learn adjectives, double bubble to compare, and tree maps everyday- I turned my dismissal sheet into one. We do flow maps with our story of the week. Double flow helped them learn classroom rules and consequences. Brace maps help with breaking our numbers apart into place value. My favorite is the bridge map. I use it to help connect words and initial sounds, vowels, and even with geometry- shapes and the number of sides and vertices they have.
Patricia Beitz Mcnichol
 I use the bubble map to help with ideas for writing we put a picture or word in the middle and then for example if it is a ladybug describing words in each bubble, then practice using these to write sentences. Also put a word in the middle and draw pictures in bubbles and use as reminders when writing
Autumn Groves Perkins 
Use a physical body map. Have a circle on the floor.Tell students ” If your name has an A in it, you belong in my circle”. This gets kids up and moving. I’ve done this with tree maps too, to sort. Give students a picture of an animal. Animals that fly in one column, two legs in another, etc. you can get very creative and students aren’t just sitting the whole time.
Cathy Giles Self 
Just googled thinking maps so I could see what you were talking about. I had to laugh. They appear to be nothing more than graphic organizers. Someone has renamed the wheel, marketed it and are now making money on selling what has already been sold. Why doesn’t this surprise me?
LaShera McElhany 
An easy circle map lesson–put your focus letter in the center circle, then brainstorm words that begin with that letter sound. Add pics. Simple, and incorporates something you do everyday.
Erin Ebeck 
Thinking maps are awesome! Circle maps are really easy to use. We make circle maps for colors in the fall with a colored circle in the middle and magazine pictures showing that color around the circle. Double bubble maps are basically just Venn diagrams but are the bubbles make it easy to separate the ideas. We use double-bubble maps to compare Christmas & Hanukkah, different versions of books, etc.
Tina Troublefield Smith
 I do them mostly as whole group…..circle maps are my favorite…… I use tree maps to informally test letters introduced for the week. Students cut and paste pictures by initial sounds. I like use the bridge map for farm animals…..momma animal > baby animal……farm animal> animal sound….
Suzanne Ebling Gerczynski 
We use them all of the time….Tree Maps are the ones I have used the most for the children to do independently. We have done bubble maps to describe characters. I think the main job in Kindergarten is to get the children familiar with them…whole group is wonderful. I am impressed with a lot of the ideas the children generate…which would not come about without the thinking maps! Embrace them!!
Jackie Ayers 
Cathy-do a little more research! Thinking maps are awesome! They are like graphic organizers on steroids. They help children brainstorm, organize, breakdown a whole into parts, sequence,…
Diane Trepiccione Dean
 I am with you Cathy, to me it sounds like best practices marketed under another name!
Ann Herrington Guess 
Thanks for all the encouragement and ideas. You guys have some wonderful ideas. I guess I was a little overwhelmed today and needed to hear it from other kindergarten teachers that have experience using them. I plan to use all your great suggestions.
Christie Brewster 
I use circle maps, flow maps, and tree maps the most. The kids LOOOOOOOVE them, and I do too! Everything you teach really CAN be translated into a thinking map. I don’t use them in every single lesson, but I use them a LOT! The flow map is great for retelling!
Donna Plunkett 
We have used them in Texas for years! They really enjoy them. They even are able to create their own! It’s really amazing to see this in their literacy stations.
April Baumgartner Snethen
 Where can I read more about this? Good resources? I have looked on pinterest.
Sue MacAvoy Sweet
 Is this a regional thing because I’ve never heard if them, but now I am very interested… Maybe I can be first to use them in my grade level, if not school..
Sarah Hudson 
We do a circle map for each letter of the week. Put the letter in the middle and then paste the pix that start with that letter around it. Also a circle map for the child of the day–I write their name in the middle and then adjectives or facts about them (“likes hamburgers” or “5 years old” or “helpful”) You start using circle maps and you realize you can use them all the time!
Melinda Bachman
We have been using thinking maps for about 6 years now! Begin with the circle map with something they can talk about like things we do in our classroom. We circle map the letters as we teach them for beginning sounds. Bridge maps for number words and numbers, rhyming pairs,animals and their babies…Double bubble for comparing the same story but different versions, brace for things like Stone Soup, dressing for the weather…Tree maps to sort and classify. They really do get it and when introduced in K and used through the school they are more comfortablewith creating their own maps for prewritting.
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2 thoughts on “Circle, Tree or Brace-Thinking maps are useful and fun!

  1. A Bubble Map is for gathering adjectives! Many people use them incorrectly as a ‘brainstorm’ such as the photo banner at the top of the page. Use a Bubble Map to describe things. Mittens: soft, warm, fuzzy, green, pink, stripes, small, big, etc… Use a Circle Map to collect ideas: love is …….

    Since our whole school does Thinking Maps, we often do the more complicated ones with out 6th Grade Buddies. It gives the big kids the opportunity to teach the little ones an important skill, and the little kids get one on one attention.

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