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I'm a New York City based kidlit writer, diver & adventurer. I love sharing the mysteries of the deep with kids of all ages who love adventure.

If I could live anywhere I wanted to, it would be at the bottom of the ocean or in a tree house that I designed myself.

If I were a character in a novel, I'd choose a middle grade adventure novel, just like the kind I like to write! 

Mapping Sound

Mapping Sound

The woods are full of sound. If you can get away from the noise of human life and be quiet, you'll find that there are conversations happening all around you. On my recent hike to Great Swamp, I recorded some of what I was hearing. In this adventure, we're going to create an imaginary map based on sound.

You know that maps are a super cool way to find your way from one location to another. Maps come in all shapes and sizes. There's no wrong way to make a map. If you've read Harry Potter, you know how helpful the Marauder's Map was. If you've ever watched your parents use Google Maps on their phones to get from one place to another, you know that maps can be essential everyday tools. And, if you're interested in history, the whole history of maps and how they have changed is fascinating. I often create underwater maps so I can get back to somewhere I've been before. Here's a photo of my octopus map when I found an octopus in Dominica last summer. I wanted to make sure that I could get back to the same place to see the octopus again.

Map to Octopus Lair, Dominica; Photo Credit: Liz Summit, 2015

Map to Octopus Lair, Dominica; Photo Credit: Liz Summit, 2015

If you want to know more about my map, you can read about it here (but later, when you're done writing. This is YOUR story time!)

The purpose of any map is to figure out how to get from one place to another.

So, here's what we're going to do today. I'd like you to find a nice, quiet place to listen. Close your eyes, and then listen to the sounds of Great Swamp.

  • What do you hear?
  • Where do you hear it?
  • What do you think is happening?
  • Who is "talking"?
  • What do you think they are saying?
  • Where do you hear these sounds?
  • Where do you hear these sounds in relationship to one another (in other words, in what directions do you hear the sounds)?

Remember, you can listen to the recording as many times as you'd like. You can also listen and sketch at the same time.

Once you're done listening, I'd like you to create a map of what you heard. What sounds happened where? Create a map that would allow a character to move from one sound to another. That means you'll also have to assign an identity (think character) to WHAT you heard. How many different sounds were there? Who was making them?

Your map can be as beautiful or as simple as you'd like. You can take your time, decorate your map, use lots of colors, and think of it like an illustration in a book. Or, you can make your map very simple: what information would a character need to know to go from one sound to another?

Then, I'd like you to write your story. Tell us about a character who moves from sound to sound. As you do that, here are some questions to think about:

  • Who is the main character of your story?
  • Is your character with anyone else?
  • Where is your character?
  • Why does your character need to follow a map? Or, is your character making the map? Or, is your character ignoring the map?
  • How does your character feel about the map?
  • Does your character want something?
  • What happens to your character along the way?
  • What will happen when your character arrives at the final destination?

There is no wrong way to do this! And, you don't have to answer all of these questions. Remember, it's not a test!

Your goal is to simply tell the story of a character following a map. Have fun!

PS: If you want to see where I recorded the sounds, you can read more about my adventure here. But, don't look at this until later.

Remember, you want to tell the story you are excited about!

For a PDF version of this exercise, click here.

Write Your Adventure!

Write Your Adventure!