Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mapping Artistic Progress

My son likes to draw. But, he doesn’t like to draw the way other kids do. He rarely draws pictures with smiling faces. In fact, his drawings hardly ever have people in them at all. For that matter, he almost never draws pictures of any living creatures. No dogs or tigers or animals of any type. He doesn’t even draw flowers, trees, or plants.

Kai likes to draw maps.

He recently got a world atlas for his birthday. He loves to go through it and we read it together. There’s a lot of great information about countries that capture his attention. But his favorite activity is to look at the maps and then draw each of the continents himself, freehand, by the way, not tracing.

Kai has had this interest in maps for quite awhile. When his grandfather visited from Japan last summer, Kai had Jiji paint every continent for him on t-shirts. His grandfather is quite a talented artist so he was happy to do that for Kai. I, however, have no talent and patience to draw maps. So, Kai, after finally accepting that I was not going to draw them for him, began to draw them by himself. I think he’s gotten pretty good at it. Maybe he has some of his grandfather’s artistic skills.

Of course, with Kai’s love of numbers, he doesn’t just draw maps. He likes to draw numbers as it relates to countries. For instance, near the back of the atlas, there is a chart that gives the area of every country. He started writing each one out on its own sheet of paper. Did you know that the Bahamas is 5,382 square miles? I do now, thanks to Kai.

A lot of times, his maps and numbers are combined onto the same drawing. A few weeks ago, he was more focused on states than countries. He drew the outline of each state. For the state of Washington, he also drew in what appears to be the county lines as well. He then wrote in numbers for each county, the date Washington became a state, and how old it will be on its next “birthday.”

I know all this makes him quirky. But, have you known any great artist who wasn’t?


  1. oh the map! Such a classic ASD interest. The little boy I drive to camp is in love with all things map related. He has mall maps memorized, car maps memorized, all that good stuff. He was my navigation system if we ever had to make a detour. Kai looks like he's got lots of art potential!!

  2. Hah, that little boy sounds a lot like Kai. Kai, too, is an equal opportunity map-lover. He likes maps of the local forest preserve or children's museum as much as he likes world maps.


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