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Resources and Ideas » Thinking Maps

Thinking Maps Thinking Maps

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Thinking Maps©

Thinking Maps integrate thinking skills and mapping techniques. Learning to use these strategies helps students develop good writing skills. These techniques also help students become better learners as they develop life-long skills that help them to study.

Thinking Maps uses basic mental operations involved in perceiving, processing and evaluating information. They describe, classify, and sequence.

This program is an integral part of a writing program.

The skills used with Thinking Maps can be done with paper and pencil and many writing activites begin this way.  To follow are examples using the Thinking Maps software.




Circle Map©

Circle Maps are tools used to help define a thing or idea. It is used to brainstorm ideas and for showing prior knowledge about a topic. In the center of the circle, use words, numbers, pictures, or any other sign or symbol to represent the object, person, or idea you are trying to understand or define. In the outside circle, write or draw any information that puts this thing in context.

circle map

circle map using Kid Pix

Thinking Map software makes it easy to create a Circle Map. There is no limit to the number of items a student can add to his circle. Students can also create a Circle Map using Kid Pix. Beginning writers can stamp images in the circle.

Home Tips:Have your child brainstorm ways the family could spend the summer vacation, their favorite books, gifts they could make for a grandparent, their favorite holiday activities.



Bubble Map©

Bubble Maps are used to describe qualities using adjectives ("sparkle words") and adjective phrases. As a writing tool it enriches students' abilities to identify qualities and use descriptive words.
In the center circle, write the word or thing being descrbed. Write the adjectives or adjective phrases in the outside circles.

bubble map

Home Tips:Describe a friend, a pet, favorite candy, a game, a stuffed animal.


Double Bubble Map©

When comparing and contrasting, we use Double Bubble Maps. This is similar in concept to a Venn Diagram. Two items being compared are written in the two center circles. Outside bubbles show items that share qualities with only one object - these are contrasting qualities. Center bubbles (that connect to both circles) show similaries between the two items being compared.

Double Bubble Map using Kid Pix to create a Double Bubble Map

Home Hints:Compare and contrast you and your best friend or Mom/Dad, your favorite and least favorite food, characters in a book, two of your teachers, old school and new school.


Tree Map©

For classifying and grouping, students learn to use a Tree Map. Things or ideas are sorted into categories or groups. Sometimes new categories are created. On the top line, write the category name. Below that begin writing sub-categories. Below each sub-category write specific members of the group. Some things can go in multiple groups.

Tree Maps are good for studying for tests. Use this map to categorize spelling words according to the skill being taught. Try using a Tree Map when studying Social Studies or Science.

 Tree Map  Animal Tree Map


Home Tips:Categorize spelling words when studying for a test, write a shopping list for the grocery store organized by type of food (i.e. produce, dairy, canned goods, treats, etc.).


Brace Map©

Brace Maps help learners understand the relationship between a whole physical object and its parts. They are used to analyze the structure of an item. It's like 'disecting' on paper.

On the line to the left, write the name of the whole object. On the lines within the first brace to the right, write the major parts of the object, then follow within the next set of braces with the subparts of each major part.

Tree Maps are good for organizing the agenda of a meeting or showing the structure of an organization.

Brace Map

Home Tips:Think about (map out) the parts of a plant, a computer, a continent, country, or state, a unit of measurement.


Flow Map©

Flow Maps sequence and order a process. They identify the relationships between stages and substages of an event (or order or numbers, operations, steps, etc.) They can be used to explain the order of events.

In the outside rectangle, write the name for the event or sequence. Rectangles to follow list the steps or events that follow from beginning to end. Smaller rectangles may be written below to list substages or each major stage.

Flow Map

Home Hints:Write a flow map at home is good practice for students to think logically and completely. Have your child make a Flow Map explaining how to make a bed, wash the dishes, make cookies, or tie a shoe. It's fun to give the directions to someone else and see if they can follow them. This is also good practice for recalling the order of events in a story - good review before an AR quiz!


Multi-Flow Map©

Cause and effect is represented in a Multi-Flow Map. It is a process of sequencing that looks at what caused an event and the results/effects of the event. It helps students analyze a situation by looking at the cause and effect - the 'why' and 'consequences' - good or bad.

In the center rectangle, list the event that occurred. In the rectangle to the left, list the causes of the event. Write the effects/consequences of the event in the rectangles to the right of the center rectangle. If you are studying a system, you will find that there are effects in the system which, in turn, influence initial causes. This circular cause and effect relationship is called a feedback loop.

Mulit-Flow Map

Home Hints:Conflicts between friends or siblings could be analyzed using a Multi-Flow Map. Pick a hypothetical situation and make two Multi-Flow Maps - one with good consequences and one with bad consequences. Map the rain cycle, the life cycle of an animal or plant.


Bridge Map©

Seeing analogies is the process of identifying similarities between relationships. These are similar to the 'analagies' found on SATs with one difference being Bridge Maps can have many 'bridges'.

Bridge Maps give students a tool for applying the process of seeing analogies. On the far left, write in the relating factor. The relating factor is the similar phrase that fits both sides of an analogy. On the top and bottom of the left side of the bridge, write in the first pair of things that have this relationship. On the right side of the bridge, write in the second pair of things that have the same relationship. The bridge can continue with more relating factors.

Bridge Map

Home Hints:spelling words, habitats or primary food sources for animals, makes and models of cars.


"The term 'Thinking Maps' and the term 'Thinking Maps with graphic forms of the eight Maps have registered trademarks. No use of the term 'Thinking Maps' with or without the graphic forms of eight Maps may be used in any way without the permission or Innovative Sciences, Inc. For inquiries, please visit


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