When your child is comfortable identifying continents on a world map, you can begin a study of an individual continent. You might even want to start a Montessori-inspired trip around the world.
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You could choose to study each continent for a week or a month, depending on how many materials you have and how in-depth you want to take the study. This is something that can be repeated as your child grows older, so you don’t need to have an extensive amount of materials to begin with, especially for a young child. You could just start with a simple introduction of a few materials for each continent this year.
I recommend starting with your own continent. Of course, if you’ll be visiting another continent this summer, you’ll want to be sure to introduce that continent before your trip. If you’re visiting another country within your continent, it’s helpful to have an individual tray with objects and photographs from that country.
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The wooden Montessori continent maps are beautiful, but they aren’t very practical for a homeschool. Still, it’s very helpful if you can find or make a puzzle map of the continent you’re studying.
If you can’t find an inexpensive puzzle map, you can always print out an inexpensive but attractive control map like the ones from Montessori Print Shop.
Nurturing Learning has a continent map using a similar printout of a world map, but you could use the same technique to make a continent puzzle map for an individual continent.
In a continent box swap, Montessori Tidbits received a South America map with movable pieces that were cut off the map and could be reattached with Velcro. A map could be made for each continent using the same idea. (Unfortunately, the Montessori Tidbits blog is no longer available.)
Imagine Our Life used both a wall map and a quiet book for continent work.
You’ll find more ideas for DIY continent maps in my Montessori continent map work post.
Montessori Continent Boxes
Most people think of Montessori continent boxes, although baskets, bags, or trays can be used to display the materials of a specific continent. Continent boxes traditionally contain information, photographs, and objects related to the study of a particular continent. In a complete study of the world, you’ll end up with seven continent boxes (or bags if you use a system like that of Counting Coconuts). I like Counting Coconuts’ idea of having a continent box or bag with materials for the study of a specific continent but with only a couple of trays set out at a time to make the materials more visible and inviting for your child to use. For example, when studying Africa this month, Counting Coconuts showed a tray for places of Africa and a tray for animals of Africa on the shelves.
It’s good to find pictures and/or postcards of the flags, people, places, animals, plants, and culture of each continent. You can add specific categories such as the food, artwork, or musical instruments of a particular continent. Add any objects you can find to represent the continent such as plastic animals and plants, real money and stamps, souvenirs, miniature dolls in costume, small flags from countries of the continent – anything that will represent the continent you’re studying. Books about the individual continents are always helpful as well.
Both Montessori Print Shop and Montessori for Everyone have beautiful materials that can be purchased for each continent.
Montessori Materials has free animal cards for each continent and Australia nomenclature cards.
The Little List has links to a number of free materials for continent boxes.
You’ll find the North America activities shown at the top of the collage plus my other geography posts here!
Ideas for Montessori Continent Boxes from around the Blogosphere
There’s a wonderful variety of ideas online for studying individual continents. Some homeschoolers even had a continent box swap. I’ll give links to a number of sites. Sometimes the category of posts will include other geography materials as well. Here’s an alphabetized listing of some great ideas for a Montessori study of continents:
- Carrots Are Orange (activities with rocks and art)
- Chestnut Grove Academy
- Counting Coconuts
- Discovery Moments
- Every Star Is Different (Go to Free Printables tab at the top of the Every Star Is Different blog, then to Thematic Activities, then to Continent and Country Activities, and then to the related post.)
- I Believe in Montessori – Free Children Around the World Cards
- Imagine Our Life
- Krazy Kuehner Days
- Little Acorns
- Living Montessori Now
- Magical Movement Company (music of Africa with shelf work)
- Mama of Many Blessings
- Mama’s Happy Hive
- Mens Sana
- Momtessori Life
- Montessori for Everyone
- Montessori From the Heart
- Montessori Nature
- My Little Princess World
- Natural Beach Living
- Sugar Spice and Glitter
- Sunrise Learning Lab
- The Frog and The Moon (Laos: Giveaway for your Asia Continent Bags)
- The Montessori Learning Center of Dundee (International Doll Unit)
- The Natural Homeschool (Continent Printable 3-Part Cards and North America 3-Part Cards)
- The Pinay Homeschooler
- The Work Plan – South America and Africa
- Three Minute Montessori – Asia Continent Box
- Trillium Montessori
- Welcome to Mommyhood – North American Animal Cards
Updated 10/16/17 (See “Creative Ideas for Montessori Continent Boxes from Around the World” for list with lots of inspiring continent box photos.)
Don’t be intimidated by the examples of complete and lovely Montessori continent boxes. Just start where you can and add gradually. Most of all, have fun exploring the world with your child!
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Love these ideas! I think I might have to put some of these together for my kids.
Thanks, Rachel! It was exciting to find so many awesome resources available online! 🙂
Thanks for the links back to my blog:)
My pleasure, Julie! I love the geography work you’ve done and the great alternatives you’ve found to the more expensive Montessori materials! 🙂
We are only learning about the states in our country but I think I will take a similar approach!
Thanks for your comment, Kylie! That would be a great approach to learning about states. If you can find hands-on materials, it’s wonderful! 🙂
Carolyn Hadsell says
A favorite in any classroom!
Thanks for your comment, Carolyn! I always loved to look at the items in continent boxes, too! 🙂
Jennifer Altman says
what fun! A great idea! Just FYI…they have wooden continent maps on sale right now at totsy.com! I thought to buy it but we already have a USA map…and it comes with it too.
If you are not a member go to http://www.totsy.com/join/jqaltman
Anyhow, I just love your blog! Such great ideas!!
Thanks, Jennifer! And thanks so much for letting us know about the Totsy sale! 🙂
We are still making our way through the States, not an intense study since Selena is only 4. I would love to have a continent map though when we move on. You have some great resources here. Thank you for sharing them.
Thanks so much for your kind comment, Debbie! 🙂
Wonderful! Geography is one of my subject… you know it 😉
Thanks for your comment, Palmy! And thanks for your wonderful geography post! 🙂
Leslie Hilger-Cooper says
I think I love this blog!!!!! I’m going to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I really want my mother to have some great activities for my daughter!!!!
Feel free to stop by the blog I co-write on. Three Fabulous Mommies- we write about anything from fashion to yoga to awesome recipes that are simple and quick! We’d love to see you!
Thanks so much for your kind comment! This went in the wrong folder, and I just found it. I’m on my way to visit your blog now! 🙂
this looks fabulous! I want to play!
Thanks, Melissa! I love continent boxes, too! I think they’re as much fun for adults as they are for kids! 🙂
You always have the best ideas and links. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I am looking forward to trying out a trip around Africa with my kids!
Thanks so much, Joy! A trip around Africa sounds like an awesome idea! Have fun! 🙂
Jessica Fuller says
This is a great hands on idea to learn about other countries and cultures. My daughter is preschool age right now so I am thinking I might adapt it to use for regions of the United States first. Thanks for sharing!
Visiting from Mom Loop Friday Follow!
Thanks, Jessica! This is definitely something that can be adapted to whatever area you’re studying. I think it’s especially great to adapt for any place you’ll be visiting on vacation.
In Montessori education, preschoolers do study the continents, though, so you can use continent boxes for preschoolers. 🙂
We LOVE our continent boxes. I think the boys prefer their Antarctica box best! I blogged about that here: http://cultivatedlives.blogspot.com/2010/07/antarctic-adventures.html.
We had so much fun with our Montessori/Charlotte Mason/Hands-on global adventure last year! It all started here: http://cultivatedlives.blogspot.com/2010/06/going-global.html
Awesome posts, Heather! Thanks so much for sharing your links. It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful time on your global adventure! (Love your Global Twister, by the way!) 🙂
Lucille gibbons says
Awesome ideas thank you thank you!
Thanks for your kind comment, Lucille! 🙂
Oh this is really… really, cool!
Thanks, Sheila! This is another one of those activities that is as much fun for me as it is for the kids! 🙂
Pink and Green Mama says
Love this idea, what a fun way to learn about other parts of the world. My girls would really enjoy this!!
pink and green mama
Thanks! I love the way continent boxes can be adapted for any environment. I hope you find a great way to use them with your girls! 🙂
This is an amazing idea for learning. This is not only good for children of all ages, but for adults to.
More likely than not, the majority of people will never leave the continent they live in. This is a great way to study abroad, without leaving home.