Montessori geography for kindergarteners is such fun! Kids love the hands-on approach to learning about their world. Montessori designed the primary or preschool program to help answer children’s questions about the world we live in.
Quick note – this is part 2 in a series about how to begin Montessori Homeschooling. Click here to see part 1!
Peanut has really enjoyed our first geography lessons. What did we start with?
Land, Air and Water
This presentation helps children explore the basic elements that make up our world. How does it work?
- I told Peanut we were going to learn something new.
- I presented the dish with soil in it. Then, I asked him to touch it and say what it is.
- I presented the dish with water in it. He also touched the water and named it.
- I presented the dish with the balloon in it. I told him that we were going to use the balloon to experience air. Then, I explained that air is all around us even though we can’t see it. So, then I blew up the balloon and allowed the air to escape, creating “wind”. I let it touch his face – he’s quite playful and enjoyed it. Depending on your child’s mood, you may ask them to put out their hand instead.
The Continents Globe
Next, we got out the globe. I made this globe out of an old plastic ball that I spray painted blue. Then, I glued on the colored continents in felt on top.
In the official Montessori geography for kindergarteners, there is also a land and water globe. I didn’t make this one because quite frankly, I just didn’t want to spend the additional time and effort. They appear simple, but making these materials is actually quite labor intensive and there are only so many late nights I can put up with! But, the point of the land and water globe is to emphasize the difference between land and water. Instead of colored, the continents are all the same color, and they are finished with sandpaper, so the land is rough and the water is smooth. This tactile differentiation is helpful for children to really experience the concept of continents and oceans.
The felt is a nice alternative to sandpaper and provides a similar tactile distinction that can easily be felt by the child. As you can see, I used the color-differentiated continents for my one and only classroom globe. The colors are:
Asia – Yellow
Africa – Green
North America – Orange
South America – Pink
Australia – Brown
Antarctica – White
Europe – Red
The use of a different color for each continent helps children master the names for each one. Peanut already knows Asia, Africa and North America…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, the land and water globe presentation.
This presentation is given in combination with the land, air and water materials (the one with a dish each of dirt, water and a balloon).
- I showed Peanut the globe and explained that this is the Earth, where we live.
- Then, I asked him to touch the continents. I said this is where land is. We looked at the dirt again.
- Next, I asked him to touch the oceans on the globe. We looked at the water in the dish and I explained that all the blue on the globe is water.
- Finally, we used the balloon to show air again. I explained that air is all around the planet.
The Flat Continents “Puzzle” Map
I say “puzzle” because typically in the classroom, a beautiful wooden continents puzzle is used. I really wish I had access to one because it provides so many lovely follow up lessons like tracing continents, pin pushing, and more. In Guatemala, it just wasn’t possible. So I did the next best thing, more felt!
You can see the above map is a “control” so that Peanut can see how the map should look when completed. The bottom map is shown as “empty.” The islands that you can see I glued down to help give Peanut a reference for where the mainland continent pieces go. The pieces are in the basket on the right. He then needs to place them in their correct spots, copying the control map.
The first presentation, however, is the following:
- We got out the globe again. I explained that each piece of land is called a continent.
- Next, I displayed the control map. I told Peanut that instead of using a globe that is round like the earth, it can also be helpful to have a flat picture of the world called a map.
- Then, I told him we were going to practice the names of the continents. I pointed to them on the globe, and he found the corresponding one on the map.
- Finally, I taught him the continents song.
One day I will upload us singing the song. For now, here are the words. I have no idea where this song is originally from. I learned it from my lovely aunt who teaches in a Montessori school. If anyone knows the origins, feel free to let me know!
Continents, continents, do you know your continents?
North, south, east and west. All around the world.
Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, Antarctica and Europe too!
Peanut is so into the Montessori geography for kindergarteners lessons that he asks to do the puzzle and sing the song just about every time we’re in the school room. In addition, I found a little continents booklet for him to color. A quick google search should find you some good options. Unfortunately, I downloaded mine so long ago I don’t remember where I got it, and there’s no indication of who made it, otherwise I’d share.
What Lessons to Connect to:
Montessori geography for kindergarteners easily connects to many other lessons such as discovering where the largest snake in the world lives. Peanut has decided that all of the coolest animals live in Africa…and really I can’t argue. Gorillas, crocodiles, lions, pretty awesome!
Practice writing out continent names or use 3 part cards to relate geography to language.
This is what we started out with in Montessori geography for kindergarteners, but we have also just recently done an impromptu lesson about how the earth orbits the sun since we started using a flashlight! Super fun!
Next, we’ll begin studying each one of the continents in depth. This will be a combination of cultural and animal studies I imagine. Animals are a favorite of Peanut’s, so I try to include them as much as possible. Since we live in North America, it will be our first continent to study.