Mind maps For Learners

A mind map is a way of thinking and organising your ideas. It’s a great tool for planning. If you have never made a mind map, this unit will show you how. If you are used to making mind maps, you might pick up some new ideas and useful tips.

The unit looks at making mind maps on paper and on the computer, and compares the advantages and disadvantages of each. Don’t miss the excellent slideshow and follow-up task at the end of the unit!

What you will learn

A mind map, or concept map, is a way of thinking and organising your ideas in a graphical way.

In this unit you will learn about:

  • what a mind map looks like
  • different uses of mind maps
  • why mind maps can be better than other ways of organising your ideas
  • making mind maps on paper
  • making mind maps on the computer.


Visit Learning and Teaching Scotland to start the interactive lesson.

Lists and maps

When people make notes, for example to think of ideas for a project, they sometimes use lined paper and list the main points. But our brains don’t remember or think of things in neat lines! They jump from one idea to another and make links between different ideas.

A mind map is a different way of making notes that some people find more effective.

What can you use mind maps for?

Here are some of the things you can use a mind map for:

  • think of ideas at the start of a project
  • make notes from what you read or from a lesson
  • plan a project or investigation
  • analyse a character in a book
  • plan a review of a book or play
  • plan an essay
  • revise key points for an exam.

You will see some examples in this unit.

Main idea

To start a mind map, put the main idea or topic in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Add new ideas as you think of them.

If you are brainstorming, planning or thinking of ways to solve a problem, it may help to turn the main idea into a question. Then new ideas are possible answers.

Imagine you are doing a project on using water at home. What do you use water for? Click on the picture to see some ideas. Are they different from yours? It doesn’t matter! It’s all about your own ideas.

Mapping ideas

When you draw a mind map, you can add as many points to one idea as you like and then you can start a new one. You can go back to the first idea to add something at any time. The order doesn’t matter. You can draw links between different ideas.

Click on the picture to see a mind map of notes from a discussion about keeping safe.

(Sur comments: You must visit the Learning and Teaching Scotland to see how the mind map evolve from the scratch).

Key words and phrases

Mind maps can grow quite large. If you are making a mind map on paper, use a large sheet and turn it sideways. Write just key words and phrases – they take up less space and they are easier to remember and read again later.

Picture ©2006 Inspiration Software®, Inc. Diagram created in Inspiration® by Inspiration Software, Inc. Used with permission.

Paper or computer?

Paper is easy and convenient, and it’s great when you want to get as many ideas down as quickly as possible.

But at school you can also use the Kidspiration or Inspiration software to make mind maps on the computer.

This is another example from the Inspiration website. Why do you think it might sometimes be better to use the software? Think about it and then compare your ideas with those on the next screen.

Picture ©2006 Inspiration Software®, Inc. Diagram created in Inspiration® by Inspiration Software, Inc. Used with permission.

Tips for mind maps

Here are some reminders and tips for making a mind map:

  • If you are using paper, use a large sheet and turn it sideways.
  • Put the main idea in the centre and work outwards.
  • Leave lots of space so you can add things in.
  • Use key words.
  • Use arrows to link ideas.
  • Use colours. On paper, you can go over the map with coloured highlighters.
  • Add pictures.

If it stands out on the map, it will stand out in your mind.

Make a mind map

In this unit you have learned about mind maps – how to create them and when they can be useful.

Something to think about

Can you think of recent tasks you have done when a mind map might have helped you? Are there any times when you think it would be better to make a list or write notes?

Something to talk about and do

This photo comes from a slideshow on the Oxfam Cool Planet website. With a group of friends, look at the slideshow to find out about water conservation. Then make a mind map – it could be about what you learned in the slideshow, or about what would happen if you had no water, or about how you can use less water at home. You can include your own ideas as well as those from the slideshow.

This article and Picture are from © Learning and Teaching Scotland,
http://www.LTScotland.org.uk (A Permission being asked by Sur to Learning and Teaching Scotland).

Permission granted at September 22nd, 2008 by Jenni W.
I can grant you permission to use the explanations of Mind maps within your blog as long as you use the following credit line:
© Learning and Teaching Scotland
Best wishes with your project.