Ask Design Mom Week: World Map Ideas

June 3, 2008

Ask Design Mom Question:
Gabrielle, I’m new to your site so I don’t know if you’ve already posted about this or not… I’m looking for a cute idea to help my girls learn world geography. Ideally, I’d like something made out of recycled material (but somewhat interactive) that I could hang in their room. I don’t want it too stuffy. I’m not running a school! Just something cute and fun (and funky!). Any suggestions? Thanks, Christina

Design Mom Answer:
Oh! I love maps. And I love decorating with maps. Great question, Christina.

My initial response is to send you to a post I wrote about using maps in my home (I favor the actual school maps), but after re-reading your question, I can see the solution I use isn’t what you’re looking for. Let me see what I can find something less formal out there and get back to you.

But before I head off on a map hunt, let me tell you what a friend of mine did: She gathered old National Geographic maps from a thrift store and covered an entire wall with them. She used wallpaper paste to attach them to the wall. They overlapped in lots of places and looked aged and creased and worn and really lovely. One was a big world map and the rest featured specific countries. She kept a pointer nearby to make the maps interactive.

Design Mom Readers, have you see any great maps out there?

Edit: talk about interactive! Check out this giant felt world map on etsy.


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kiasa June 3, 2008 at 11:08 am

The last time we moved I almost threw out our maps of various places/cities we had traveled to, but I decided to hang them up on my daughter’s wall instead. She’s too young to teach, but I love the look of it: well used tourist maps. Paris with highlighted marks, an island off the Amalfi Coast, a Manhattan bus map. Now her wall over her crib is covered with maps and memories and I really love it.


2 Terina June 3, 2008 at 11:24 am

i have USA placemats for my kids. they aren’t recyclable that i know of, but they are reusable. they love to look at them while we eat and we talk about all the places that we’ve been. i would love to get western europe map for them too. i got the placemats at target a while back. but i bet you could make your own with some of the heavy duty laminating stuff and a really cool map.


3 r8ermom June 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

Ooh, I can’t wait for your response to this. I absolutely adore maps and globes! I am actually looking for something similar but that must match the red/pink color scheme in my home office. I envision my kids playing in there while I’m working so I’m trying to make it kid-friendly. I’ve so far resisted the urge to wallpaper a wall as you suggested, but I’ve considered that or a map wall mural like those sold by Pottery Barn Kids. PB Kids has several map options, including a felt map that Christina might like for about $70 on Ebay right now. I also like the pull-down maps, especially the multi-panel vintage ones on Ebay/Etsy sometimes. Land of Nod (Crate and Barrel kids’ store) also has some fun maps and I just ordered one for my son’s closet, where he likes to read because it’s cozy and has bright lighting. Surprisingly, Montgomery Wards has a nice wallpaper mural available online for $29.99. Much cheaper than PB Kids prices, though I don’t know about the quality. I’m considering it for the home office also and am waiting for the remodeling to get further along before I decide. Anyway, I’m quite the map geek as you can see but I’m sure there are even more options out there that I haven’t found yet!


4 Jessica June 3, 2008 at 11:28 am

Here’s a really cool wall hanging from The Land of Nod, here.

And here’s 14′ x 9′ wall map that you could use on an entire wall from Pottery Barn Kids.

A great way to make this interactive would be to use a magnetic primer like this one, and then wallpaper the map over it. Then you and your kids could have a fun art project of making magnets of different animals, countries, people, popular landmarks, etc. to place on the map. If you’re not so artsy, you could easily just use google images and print out different things. Just laminate and stick a strong magnet on the back!


5 The Rushtons June 3, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for all of the tips! I love the idea of using magnetic primer.


6 Lindsay June 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm

I’m not sure who prints it, but I’ve seen wrapping paper sheets of vintage maps at various paper shops. I purchased a sheet of a a vintage map of the U.S. with the intent to have it framed…haven’t framed it yet, but I’d still like to one of these days!


7 vfg June 3, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Our school district has a bi-yearly auction of discarded school goodies, and this fall I scored one of those big pull-down maps, with rings to yank like old slide projector screens–ours has world and US choices. We don’t currently have a big enough wall for it, but I’m in love.


8 Linda June 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Here’s a map project I’m playing with right now. Cut out photos or pictures in the shape of a state or country. In making a map of the US for instance, take a pic of Aunt Cathy in Virginia and cut it out in the shape of Virginia. This works with pictures of friends, relatives, vacations… If it’s a place I don’t have a connection with, I’ll use landmarks of some sort that the kids can associate with that state or country (i.e. Eiffel Tower and grapes=France, horses and horse racing=Kentucky.) Affix the “improved” version to a map or make a puzzle of it.


9 Amanda Conley June 4, 2008 at 8:49 am

My husband buys and remodels houses, and in the last house, he found one of those big church map stands, where you can flip the maps. They’re all of the the ancient middle east. I wallpapered a wall with them. It looks great!


10 Roshanthi June 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I really love maps too and here
a really cool floor world map from Barefoot –


11 Coleen & Kelly June 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

i’ve always LOVED maps. when i saw this, i knew one day i’d have it my home too:


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