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Making Maps at Washington Elementary

Washington Elementary student

At first, some of the incoming second-graders thought a map key was a literal, physical key – like the kind you'd use to open a door.

But teacher Yvette Jaramillo helped them grasp the idea that a map key helps the reader decipher the different symbols on a map.

"One student said, 'Oh, it's a key for what's going to be on the map!'" Jaramillo said, recalling the lightbulb moment.

Her summer school class has been full of those. 

Jaramillo's second-graders are among the more than 3,000 students in preschool through high school who are participating in summer school through the Kennewick School District. For high schoolers, the focus is on credit recovery, extra help in math and enrichment activities. For younger students, the goal is to provide engaging, hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) learning.

In Jaramillo's class at Washington, students have been working on maps during science. They're building toward creating a 3D map from Play-Doh, learning about bodies of water, landforms and all sorts of concepts along the way.

On a recent morning, they spent time working on pirate maps. They worked diligently and had fun, peppering Jaramillo with questions and proudly showing her their work.

"It's a fun way to get them engaged with doing their own key," Jaramillo said. "It's them being able to create and solidify all the parts that come with a map as we move forward to our culminating project."

Close-up of a student working on a map key


Student smiling at a classmate during a map lesson


Map key detail


Teacher Yvette Jaramillo working with a student


A student smiles while working on a map at Washington Elementary