In Missoula, Montana, kids are making a map of favorite places with poetry and artwork.

They’ve mapped out neighborhoods, hidden trails, and favorite spots, adding poems, illustrations, and recordings of themselves reading what they wrote.

The intent is to have adults see the valley in the same way that kids do.

“Missoula has different places where adults don’t go to that much. They mostly work and take walks and most people don’t see that,” said fourth grader Tylor Upham, as he added his poem to the map earlier this week. “Kids explore more. We get time to do that, but parents have to do all this other stuff.”

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Upham wrote a poem about his favorite hiding place, “The Bush” near his grandmother’s house.

“I used to go there all the time. I used to live over there and now I moved, so I miss that place,” he said. “I used to go in and talk to my friends or have some alone time in there.”

Missoula Writing Collaborative Executive Director Caroline Patterson teaches poetry in area schools, and has applied for grants to support teaching poetry.  She has personal experience as a travel writer, which inspired her to develop the interactive map project.

“Kids’ writing becomes stronger when they’re writing about a specific place,” she said.

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