Metro Madness Adventure

Metro Madness Adventure

Father’s Day Fantasy Trip For Kids Big & Small


My son Léo is six years old and he’s interested in trains. Very interested. In fact, his entire life revolves around them.

At the dinner table the knives and forks (or the sugar cubes or the carrots or… anything actually) become imaginary metro carriages. When I walk him to school we take the imaginary train line that delivers us, conveniently, right outside the school gate at the imaginary train station. If I’ve forgotten my imaginary ticket, which is frequently the case, I get a stern dressing down (and a fine) from the driver. My son is always the driver (why is my son always the driver?).

metro madness adventure central image

Much of our everyday conversation takes place through an imaginary tinny tannoy with pre-recorded announcements covering everything from calls to table through regrettable cancellations of homework right the way up to delays in going to bed due to the unforeseen length of the video he’s watching. He always apologises for any inconvenience caused…

So for Father’s Day this year I had an idea. A train idea. A metro madness adventure challenge idea, in fact, and one which would involve real trains for once. A lot of them. The instructions are below…


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Feel free to use my ‘Metro Madness Adventure’ mind map as follows:

1) For any NON-commercial use
2) Leave it EXACTLY as it is
3) Don’t change ANYTHING
4) Make sure the © Copyright text is included and intact
5) See 2) and 3) (you get the idea!)

You CAN reproduce it online or embed it in your blog or website as long as you…

6) Respect 1-5 above
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1) Take All The Lines

The idea is very simple. The idea is very simple, I said. Actually doing it might not be so easy, but therein lies the challenge, of course. We did it by the way, and how!, so you probably can too.

metro madness adventure 1For this exercise, or something similar, you need to head to your nearest big city. Your nearest big city with a metro or underground or subway system that is, whatever you call it in your neck of the concrete jungle.

We live near Paris, so the choice wasn’t difficult.

Now, the challenge part is that you have to travel for the distance of at least one station on a train on every single line of the train system for your town. Of course, if your town only has three or four metro lines that should be easy.

In Paris there are a lot of train lines – far too many for us to be able to do them all – so we had to narrow it down. I decided that only the lines of the official Paris metro system, conveniently numbered from 1 to 14, would figure in the Dad’s Day Paris Metro Trip Challenge.

metro madness adventure 2You might be thinking, “What? You’ve got 14 lines on your metro system and that’s not all?!”, and no, it’s not actually. As well as the official metro lines we’ve got a ton of trains that come into Paris from other cities and even other countries, and stop. They literally reach the end of the line and can’t go any further.

These include things like the localish SNCF trains and the high-speed TGVs and the international THALYS trains and the Eurostar of course, but… that’s not all!

There is also a heavily used train system called the RER which is a bit like a glorified beefed-up metro system. These big trains, often double-deckers, start in the far suburbs, go straight through Paris, only stopping at a handful of stations, and out the other side again.

And then of course there are bus lines and tram lines and goodness knows what else which my son might suggest adding to the itinerary, so I had to be strict; for this first mission, the Paris metro, lines 1 to 14 it was, and he was pretty happy about it in fact.



2) Note The Numbers

The second stage, once we’d arrived in Paris with one of those RERs (big trains) I was telling you about, was to hit the first metro line.

metro madness adventure 3We got off the RER line C at Gare d’Austerlitz and my son chose which line and direction to take from there.

I’ve got something awesome to tell you about the final route we chose, but you’ll have to wait until the end of this article to find out what!

We took line 5 to Place d’Italie and he noted down the number of the line in the oval shape on the printed map I provided him with. This was to give him practice in identifying and writing numbers. He performed this task with no problem at all.

I’d arranged the branches of the mind map in a circular fashion in order of train line numbers. For a moment I had a crazy idea of actually trying to create a realistic representation of the Paris metro system through some convoluted convocation of mind maps on the same canvas. After a few seconds’ thought though I quickly abandoned the idea, pleading insanity for my momentary madness.



3) Fill In The Colours

Next up is a colouring exercise. Kids like colouring, right? Especially this (big) one. 😉

metro madness adventure 4Like all metro systems I know, the Paris metro lines are colour-coded, so you can find your direction easily whilst rushing through the rabbit warren of tunnels without having to make out the words.

Léo knows most of the lines and their respective colours by heart already, not to mention many of the routes he’s used to taking.

Like me, he’s a big fan of rainbows so filling in the appropriate cloud shape with the right colour was good fun for him.

Dropping his big pack of 24 specially-provided-for-the-occasion felt tip pens all over the carriage floor was an occupational hazard though. I recommend a big sturdy draw-top cloth bag or pencil case rather than a flimsy slim plastic pack which pens seem specifically designed to slip right out of.


 


4) Count The Stops

Counting is another major skills they concentrate on in my son’s first year of primary school so with my teacher’s beret on I thought this would be something he’d both enjoy and be quite good at.

metro madness adventure 5Enjoy because he is good at it, in fact, but significantly he needs to be living the activity for his brain to work at its best. By that I mean moving around, principally. I reckon this activity fits the bill admirably!

Every line has a number, and you might think because they are numbered from 1 to 14 that there’d be 14 lines, right? Wrong, there are 16! Just ask my son.

He could tell you, as you can see on the map, that there are a couple of funny little mini-lines, with their own colours, snuck in between some of the main ones. They are called lines 3 bis and 7 bis, and they usefully bridge awkward metroless gaps in the system and only have a handful of stations on them.

Not only did he have to grasp the idea that the metro lines, unusually, were arranged in a radial fashion, ordered around the central image, but he had to count the number of stops on each line, when we were in the train travelling between stations. Sometimes we didn’t have enough time to do everything when the journey sections were very short – often only a single stop before we had to change to the next line!



5) Finish The Destinations

Here’s the serious bit of this wild and wacky challenge: working out what the destination of each line is and writing the missing word or letters in the gap.

metro madness adventure 6My son can’t read or write very well yet so I wasn’t worried that he didn’t manage to complete this part. There will be plenty of time for him to fill it all in later if he wants.

I ended up reading the incomplete destination to him and seeing if he could tell me what it should be, either from his (ridiculously good) general knowledge of the Paris metro system, or from reading the names of the stations from the panels above the doors.

He managed admirably, but as I mention below, this part was unfeasibly long to complete given the speed and frequency with which we had to change trains. There is very little distance between each station, which is one of the reasons you’re never more than a few hundred metres from a metro station wherever you find yourself in Paris. Actually finding the metro station itself isn’t always so easy!



6) Write Or Draw Something FUN!

This is where we can let our hair down a little. OK, we’ve been having lots of fun all along the journey already, but let’s say ‘artistic’ or ‘imaginative’ fun.

metro madness adventure 7So, at the end of each line – each main branch of this mind map, that is – There’s a large, wavy box. It’s got a white background and it’s empty to start off with.

Need I say more? The idea is that the participant-adventurer puts something original and interesting in each box as they make their way between all the various train stations and platforms and corridors.

It’s time to get expressive. As you can see, Léo did a quick sketch in the blank box on line 6 of the Paris metro.

As you can also see, this line is a kind of bottle green colour, has 27 stops, terminates at Charles de Gaulle and… happens to cross the Seine river high up on a two-tier bridge above the road traffic offering a spectacular view for a few fleeting seconds (to the surprised delight of observant tourists looking out of the right window) on the… Eiffel Tower! Did you guess?

And that’s the idea – that the challengee writes or draws something in each box which directly relates to the line in question. All in the limited time available, not to mention the mild panic involved in getting off at the right stop to optimise the route. I don’t think I could have done a better job of honouring Lady Eiffel myself; nice one son!



End Of The Line

Well, so much for the instructions and cute father and son homilies. I did want to just say a few words about the actual Metro Madness Adventure mind map itself.

It’s been one of my most ambitious projects yet, and just seemed to get more and more complicated as I kept on having new ideas for how to make it just that little bit better.

metro madness adventure 8From a pedagogical (that’s teaching to you an’ me guv) point of view, I’ve tried to cover as many bases as possible. All without letting him catch on to the fact that we’re actually developing a ton of useful academic skills – writing, counting, spelling, numbers, colours, logic, following instructions, thinking creativity 😋… – in a wonderfully authentic real-world setting, and one which he is obsessed about, no less.

I’m aware that certain teaching filosofies might encourage informing the ‘learner’ of the various competences we’d be developing throughout the challenge, and how improving these abilities in a real-life setting would be highly valuable when it comes to being asked questions by the teacher in class or during tests for example. But well, y’know, I’m getting pretty fed up with all this school-generated high-pressure to conform and perform, and the extra-curricular activities and stuff that eat up his time, and really I’m looking to just let him be a kid whenever I can, even if I do sneak in some clever-dick learning tricks now and then. There are some things, sometimes, he just doesn’t need to know. No?

The map’s not perfect of course, but I’m not a great believer in the existence of perfection or of its worth as an ideal.

However, as an exercise in artistic mind mapping, in creating something both pretty and pretty much bursting with possibilities, in engineering an activity on the deepest of human levels (having fun with my kid while he still is one) which also allowed me to potter around in my virtual software shed as it were, my Léo’s Metro Madness project for Dads’ Day 2016 served its purpose admirably.


Dastardly Disclaimer

If you decide to do something like this with an unsuspecting youngster from your entourage, don’t expect them to finish the map, and don’t worry about it if they don’t, that isn’t the point. Léo didn’t and he had a great time!

metro madness adventure line 14The point is to have fun rushing around your town’s train system with your kid thinking you’re the craziest weirdest best dad ever.

Ohhhh kayyyyy mums, I suppose you could take part in this activity too, but… I’m not sure you’d be up to it, it’s not as easy as it looks. It really calls for a responsible adult who knows exactly what he’s doing and a solid sense of direction (we only got lost three times, honest 😜) !

I also have to tell you that I provided another activity at the same time as the mind map and this other thing was actually easier for him to compete. It was a photocopy of the actually metro map, printed in very light grey only.

He coloured in each line using the appropriate pen as we raced along the route. It was also good fun but the two things together was too much so I’d recommend limiting the challenge to just the mind map the first time you try it.


Sab’s Fab Footnote

Now here’s the totally awesome bit I mentioned earlier, and it was completely unexpected.

As I said, I let Léo choose the start of the route as soon as we arrived at Gare d’Austerlitz. We changed trains every time we met a new line and took the new one in the direction of yet another line we hadn’t travelled on before.

metro madness adventure Sab Will LéoThings were going great, and we even managed to get a trip in the driver’s cabin at the end of one of the little 3 bis line I was telling you about as the driver turned the train around in some spooky tunnels before heading back in the other direction.

Anyway, as we continued chugging and changing, chugging and changing, I noticed that we were managing not to repeat lines. An almost impossible thought started to form in my head. Could we, possibly, get back to the same mainline station we had arrived at, to head home from, having travelled for at least one stop on every single one of the 16 Paris metro lines… without repeating a line?

NO. WAY. I was sure it couldn’t be done! YES WAY. We did it! 😎

I won’t tell you how in case you want to try it for yourself but hey, that was a darn cool way to end a cool day. Map on!

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© 2016 Sab Will / Mind Map Mad


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‘Metro Madness Adventure’ Downloads

Here are those download links again, and don’t forget to let me know what you think here. What do you reckon about my ‘Metro Madness Adventure’ mind map? Does it inspire you to try something similar with a kid you know? Or adapt it to another form of transport or sport maybe? Feel free to share and tell ’em the Mad Mapper sent you! I hope you get some fun and memorable moments out of it.


JPG Image 800 pxJPG Image 1920 px ~ JPG Image 3500 px

PDF Doc 1MB ~ PDF Doc 10MB ~ Sab on Biggerplate!


Click HERE for Important Copyright Info

Feel free to use my ‘Metro Madness Adventure’ mind map as follows:

1) For any NON-commercial use
2) Leave it EXACTLY as it is
3) Don’t change ANYTHING
4) Make sure the © Copyright text is included and intact
5) See 2) and 3) (you get the idea!)

You CAN reproduce it online or embed it in your blog or website as long as you…

6) Respect 1-5 above
7) Include a credit to ‘Sab Will / Mind Map Mad’ AND include a clickable link to this page ( http://www.mindmapmad.com/metro-madness-adventure/ ) on the web page next to or near the image – thanks! 

Sab on BiggerWhat?

BiggerPLATE, that’s What?! No, I don’t know what it means either, yet. But I will.

Anyway, it’s a place absolutely crammed with cool mind maps, including mine – he he! You can download the actual original iMindMap file (the mind mapping software I use) and play around with it yourself. Nice!


Notes on “Metro Madness Adventure Mind Map”


metro madness adventure Mind Map Mad toonSab Will enjoys creating fun and helpful mind maps and articles on a wide range of topics.

As well as Mind Map Mad (this site!) Sab runs

Sab is available for training in innovative thinking, creative problem solving, mind mapping and teacher training in modern ‘learning to learn’ techniques. Please get in touch here to find out how increased creativity and innovation can help boost your business, or how modern approaches to learning can revolutionise your teaching or training.

P.S. Keep up to date will ALL Sab’s latest creative output over on his newest home on the web, the Sab Lab!

© 2016 Sab Will / Mind Map Mad