Geography

The World 

The Absorbent Mind and the Sensitive Periods for Language are used n the Montessori Method to provide a love for Geography and a foundation for further study.New technical language is easily and joyfully taken in by the child during this period.  Terms for Land and Water masses, countries, continents are given so that when the child needs them later she already has a familiarity, a history of success and therefore an affection for the subject matter.  A short recap is sufficient for the child to recall what she learnt here.

For children who go on to Montessori Elementary these areas are covered and it is helpful for the Directress of the Children’s House to know how there links will be made.

The terms for the following are given in the Children’s House

  • Geographical Regions; Temperate, Torrid, Arctic, Equator, the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn
  • Climate
  • Physical land and water features; Caves, Islands, Bays etc.
  • Cities – old and new names give the impression of historical change
  • Architecture – Primarily types of house
  • Food – different crops grow in different climates
  • Costume, Clothing and Manufacturing
  • Movement of people; Invasions, Migration, Immigration
  • Flora
  • Fauna
  • The World of People, industries and their products
  • Transportation
  • Division of the Continents into Countries ad Countries in to Provinces and States.

In the Elementary Classroom this work is continued in detail, in the Children’s House these facts are used to tie life to Geographical locations, through objects, pictures and vocabulary, from the whole into it’s parts.  While the Children’s House presents the facts the Elementary level explores the reasons behind the facts and the relationships between the facts.  Int he Children’s House many aspect of culture are delivered through The Exercises of Practical Life (e.g. Land and Water forms) and others through Sensorial activities (e.g. the Puzzle Maps).

Introducing

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Montessori introduced ‘The World’ when children demonstrated their need to understand their orientation in the world in relation to their personal histories and travel.

Flag Work

This began in the classroom in 1936 when many Europeans went to Amsterdam for the Coronation of Queen Juliane, children in their Sensitive Period for `Sensorial refinement showed an interest to work with the images of flags and the shapes of countries, storing  away these concepts for later.  Book on countries, images of flags, national anthems, traditional songs in other languages and English, information about lifestyles in other countries and the games they play can also be given.

Geography is a rich way to enhance the children’s experiential and language work.  Physical Geography and the way that Human Geography has shaped it are developed in tandem.

Material Description:

Set 1 – cloth flags with removable poles, so different flags can be used.  Begin with the child’s own flags and those of her continent

Set 2 – Nomenclature Cards corresponding to flags, one set with the names attached and another detached stored in different containers for the different continents

Set 3 – Two hardboard maps, one, the control with flags painted on, the other blank, plastic or paper flags and pins with which to attach them to the map.  The map indicates a the Capital City with a green mark and a red mark indicates where to attach the flag.

Presentation:

  • Set 1, present to a small group
  • Give an introductory story to the flag of the child’s country, explain the symbolism used in the details that make up the flag
  • Do the same for two flags of neighbouring countries
  • Give a three Period Lesson of the counties names using the flags
  • The child can take the other flags and find the names of their associated countries using the Nomenclature Cards

NOTE: Also explain how and why flags are hoisted and set at half-mast, how the navy use them to sign and indicate the respect people have for flags by showing how they are held and never let to touch the floor

Exercises:

  • Exercise 1 – Use the flags as part of the Walking on the Line activity
  • Exercise 2 – Use the flags with the national anthems and puzzle maps
  • Exercise 3 – Make the flags on paper, paint them and cut them out
  • Exercise 4 – The cloth flags can be paired to the Nomenclature Cards
  • Exercise 5 – Match the flags to the picture folders
  • Exercise 6 – Match the flags to real flags describe the parts of the flag and give the Three Period Lesson for new terms
  • Exercise 7 – Introduce the Nomenclature Cards (Set 2), give unfamiliar names using the Three Period Lesson, relate them to the puzzle maps, which the child can also draw and colour.
  • Exercise 8 – Pay the national anthem and sort the music, flags and country outlines
  • Exercise 9 – Now that the child knows the flags, anthems and puzzle maps well, use Set 3;
  • The child lays out the flags and pins on the chowki and using the control she places them on the blank map.  Later this can be done from memory and afterwards checked with the control card.

Language:

Names of the countries

Direct Aim:

  • Preparation for the further study of Geography

Age at Presentation:

Three and a half years

Footnote:

Also show books

The Sandpaper Globe

Material Description:

A globe with land covered in sand paper and the water in smooth blue.  One blindfold for you and one for the child.  A felt mat

How to hold:

One hand around the base one supports the globe

Presentation:

  • Bring the globe to the table, tell the child, “Tis is the globe, it looks like our Earth”.
  • Rotate the globe anticlockwise, once or twice
  • Keep the globe still, with the land in front of the child
  • Feel the land gently, saying, “This is Land”, repeatedly as you feel it
  • Rotate the globe further, revealing more land, stroke it and repeat “Land”
  • Rotate the globe further, then keep the globe still, with the water in front of the child
  • Touch the water, stroke it and repeat “This is Water” a few times
  • Trace the edges where the land meets the water
  • Continue to feel the land and water with the eyes closed or using the blindfold
  • Invite the child to do the same using the blindfold
  • Continue to use the words “Land” and “Water” while giving the second and third parts of The Three Part Lesson

Exercises:

  • As in presentation

Language:

  • “Land” and “Water”

Criteria of Perfection (Control of Error):

  • The sandpaper works as a guide

Direct Aim:

  • To prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

Three to three and a half years

Land and Water Forms

Material Description:

Introduction

  • Six trays of a similar size – three of which have bases covered in semi-hardened clay, three of which have bases covered in coloured water
  • Prepared clay
  • A large tray with a palate knife, jug with coloured water, sponge, bucket and drying cloth

One set of models – including the following contrasting forms

  • Island – Lake
  • Peninsular – Gulf
  • Isthmus – Strait

Note:

Give the name lesson after the child can distinguish the forms

Presentation:

  • Show two trays, one of which has the entire base covered in clay, to represent sand and one of which coloured water is poured
  • Using the palate knife cut an irregular shape from the centre of the clay and put it in the centre of the tray with water (ensuring it is not submerged)
  • Pour water into the hole in the clay of the first tray
  • Give the words “Lake” and “Island” as The Three Part Lesson
  • Introduce the models of the Lake and Island, pour water into the models, saying, “You may use these any time you wish”
  • Show the child how to dry the models with a sponge

Language:

The names of the land and water forms

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

Three and a half to four years

Footnote:

After working with the models the Classified Nomenclature Card of “Land” and “Island” are presented in the usual way

The Coloured Globe

Material Description:

On the Coloured Globe each continent is a different colour

Presentation:

  • Introduction (Sandpaper Globe and Coloured Globe)
  • Bring both globes to the table
  • Ask the child to feel and name “Land” and “Water” (as third part of three part lesson) on the sandpaper globe
  • Introduce the Coloured Globe
  • Tell the child, “This globe also represents our Earth”
  • Rotate the globe once or twice in silence
  • Place both globes so that they show the same forms e.g. Africa
  • Touch the land on the Coloured Globe and say “Land”
  • Point at the landmass on both Globes to bring attention to the similarity
  • Again, touch the land and repeat both “Land” and “Water” a few times
  • Presentation
  • Put the Sandpaper Globe away
  • Point to one continent on the Coloured Globe and say, “This is Land, but it is also called a Continent”
  • Repeat with the other continents
  • Do the same with the water saying “This is Water, but it is also called a Ocean”
  • Use the three Period Lesson to fix both terms

Language:

“Continent” and “Ocean”

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

After the Sandpaper Globe

Footnote:

Later introduce the Puzzle Map of the World

Puzzle Map of the World

Material Description:

The continents are insets in the same colours as those on the Coloured Globe.  Each has a knob.  The oceans are blue and fixed to the frame

Presentation:

  • Introduction (Coloured Globe and Puzzle Map)
  • Bring the materials to the mat
  • Take the Coloured Globe and ask the child to point at a continent or ocean
  • Introduce the Puzzle Map saying, “This also represents our Earth, here it is just flattened out”
  • This can be demonstrated by flattening clay or with a prepared sphere which will flatten
  • Presentation
  • Point at a continent on the Coloured Globe and ask the child to show you it’s pair on the Puzzle Map
  • Invite the child can trace the outline on the globe and inset
  • Remove the pieces with the child and invite her to replace them
  • When the child has worked with the whole map introduce the names of the continents and oceans in the three period lesson

Language:

Names of the continents

Criteria of Perfection (Control of Error):

  • In the material itself replacing the inset into the frame

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

After the Coloured Globe

Puzzle Map and Cards

Material Description:

A set of shelves with Puzzle Maps and cards with outline maps the scale as the Puzzle Maps.

The Puzzle Map is a continent divided into countries, each country is a different colour and has a knob.

Note: The child’s own continent is introduced first

Presentation:

  • Introduction (Puzzle Map of the World and Puzzle Map of a Continent)
  • Bring the materials to the mat
  • Ask the child to remove the corresponding continent from the Puzzle Map of the World
  • Introduce the Continent Puzzle Map saying, “This is (Asia) too, only here it is larger”
  • This can be demonstrated by pointing to a characteristic feature of the continent, such as Kamchatka or India (This is done to recognise the form, not to label countries or regions)
  • Put the Puzzle Map of The World away
  • Presentation
  • Take out the insets representing countries and put them in a random order
  • Take on country at a time and replace within the frame, you can trace the edges first
  • Continue until the Puzzle Map is complete

Exercises:

  1. As in the presentation
  2. Remove one piece from the Puzzle Map and find it’s place on the outline maps.  Continue.

Language:

Names of the countries are given when the child is familiar with the insets

Criteria of Perfection (Control of Error):

  • In the material itself replacing the inset into the frame

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

After the Puzzle Map of the World, until five years

Footnote:

  1. Each subsequent map is introduced in the same way
  2. Later introduce the map of the country and regions within it
  3. Land and Water Extensions

Note: After the presentation of Land and Water forms and the Puzzle Maps the child could be introduced to two different types of activities to reinforce the distinction between Land and Water.

1. Land and water forms so far have been symbolic – to teach the concept, this abstraction needs to be linked to reality.  Firstly, look for land and water forms on maps, secondly classify pictures of specific land and water forms and give the actual name e.g. “Peninsular – Italy”

The Outline Maps and Pictures of Land and Water Forms

Material Description:

The Outline Maps of the world, Classified Nomenclature Cards of land and water forms, a red pencil

Presentation:

  • Bring the items to the table
  • Ask the child to select a Nomenclature Card (e.g. the Island)
  • Ask her, “What is around the island?”, she replied “Water”
  • Look for an Island on the Outline Map, point it out to the child
  • Invite the child to find another Island
  • Colour the Islands in red

Exercises:

  1. As in the presentation
  2. Look for other Land and Water forms, one at a time with the other Nomenclature Cards e.g. Lake.
  3. Repeat with the child’s own continent, other continents and the child’s own country

Second Exercise:

Pictures of Land and Water Forms

Material Description:

Sets of envelopes each containing a set of illustrations of specific Land and Water forms – changed intermittently and corresponding Nomenclature Cards cards.

Presentation:

  • Bring the items to the table
  • Ask the child to select a Nomenclature Card (e.g. the Island)
  • Remove the other envelopes and look at the pictures of the Island, having a simple conversation with the child while showing other pictures.  Present just a few pictures unless the child wishes to continue.

Language:

If the child is interested give the names of the forms

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

Five years and above

Footnote:

The exercise with the illustrations brings the child into contact with the  reality of Land and Water forms, their beauty and variety.  The child realises that there are many of these forms on our Earth.

People of the World (Regions)

Material Description: 

People of the World are introduced in the context of their climate, costume, season, flora, fauna, housing, habitual lifestyles and food through Classification folders and Backdrops.  Two Backdrops of each region are made, these are;

  • Desert
  • Polar
  • Prairies/Grasslands
  • Tropical
  • Mediterranean
  • Temperate
  • Mediterranean

A folder with Mounted Images of people, transport, vegetation and buildings are given and a Control Card with a complete scene.

Presentation:

  • Bring the items relating to the desert to the table
  • Explain what the region is like, give a factual description of Anthropological information, Geographical features, typical animals
  • Show the Backdrop and Mounted Images, the child will recognise some of them, discuss details to give more language e.g. describe the costume, buildings and plants
  • Let the child arrange the Mounted Images against the upright Backdrop, naming them
  • The child can check her progress with the Control Card
  • This information can be given spread out over many days

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Human and Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

Four years

Picture Folders of each Continent, Country, Region and City/Locality

Material Description: 

Set 1 – Folders for Continents

Set 2 – Folders for Countries, the child’s and one or two neighbouring ones

Set 3 – Folders for Regions

Set 4 – Folders for Cities or Locality

and whichever inset from the Puzzle map the set most closely relates to

Note:

  • Each folder contains a dozen photos, postcards or illustrations of people, places, buildings, landscapes, animals etc which relate to that area.  The pictures should be colour coded and have an image of the puzzle map to which they relate.  Change the contents regularly.

Presentation:

  • With an individual or small group
  • Bring the items relating to Set 1 to the table and the inset for that Continent
  • Put the inset in the centre and five or six pictures around it, categorising them
  • Leave the other pictures in the folder for the child to look at and manipulate
  • The child is free to ask whatever questions arise
  • Present the other sets in the same way

Exercises:

  1. As in the presentation
  2. Mix two sets and sort them into their original folders
  3. Mix all the sets and sort
  4. Classify pictures from various sets into categories of the child’s choosing
  5. Relate the pictures back to the inset and other materials such as the flags and artefacts
  6. Encourage the child to research further with pictures and books, she could make booklets

Direct Aim:

Prepare for later study of Human and Physical Geography

Age at Presentation:

Three years, after or alongside Puzzle Maps

Footnote:

Make links to the ‘Real World’ and to the child’s culture.

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