As some of you may know, Lawton (who turned four in April) loves maps and geography. I don't really think that he got into it because of anything I've done, just somehow it has peaked his interest and I took note. Therefore, by "following the child" which is a strong Montessori philosophy, we have helped foster his interests.
*Side note* After pondering WHY he likes maps (of the zoo, of state parks, of Disney World, of the United States, of the world, of the mall . . .) and is interested at ALL times where we are going (think holding his daddy's iphone with the moving blue dot on the map), I thought back to my childhood. I have always been fascinated with studying maps and like to know how things are connected. If I can't visualize the layout of a store in my head, it drives me crazy and I can't shop there.
I specifically remember one Saturday morning, probably when I was seven or eight, I woke up, got out the trusty encyclopedia, looked up Africa and traced it on tracing paper. Yep. For fun. Traced Africa, all the countries, rivers, cities, etc. for fun. It must have been very exhilarating because I still remember doing it in our upstairs den. Man, that's weird. Maybe the apple isn't falling far from the tree! ha!
Here's what you need: three part cards and a rug for spatial control
To make these cards, get some white card stock and then either card stock or construction paper to cut out the shapes of the continents. I guess you could just print them, but I like the tactile experience for the kids (and another idea to show you later. . . :) One card has the continent shape and the name, one card has just the continent, and the third card has just the name. (The last two cards should equal the same size as the first one. You can click on my pictures to enlarge if you don't get what I'm saying)
The continent colors are all different and correspond to the maps that I had in my classroom. Everything is color coordinated, so for example, all things associated with Africa were brown, all things associated with Asia were yellow and so on . . . (North and South America - red; Asia - yellow; Europe - pink; Africa - brown; Australia - orange; Antarctica - white)
I found these templates if you are interested in making some. I'm sure there are some better ones out there, just didn't find them. . .
Here's why you should do it: These cards will help your child get familiar with the outlines and names of the continents and just in general help with visual discrimination. I would say some older two year olds/three year olds could do this, but you know your child . . . all children are different!!
Here's how you do it: Lay out all the control cards (with the continent and name on them) while saying the name to your child. Our rug was too short . . . my Montessori trainers would have a duck if they saw that! I only bought one rug for us to have at home . . . (a towel would work great, I was just to lazy to get up and get it!)
Then match the picture of the continent to the first card.
Then, have them methodically go down and compare the continent name to the control card until a match is made. Very young children will just look at the beginning letter or the shape of the word, older children will be able to start reading the word.
For all the true Montessori people out there, I know he shouldn't be sitting on the rug, but we're at home and I'm relaxed . . . :)
All the matches are made!! You can have fun with this part and have them point to the continents you ask them for, name the continents as you point to them, have them bring cards that you ask for as you cook dinner, whatever!
And to kick off the geography blitz, I am going to give away TWO sets of these cards! I will have to make them, so give me a bit! :) Leave me a comment and I will choose two names next Tuesday. I would love to know what your kiddo is into right now, or what you were into as a kid if your baby (or loved one) is too little!
Keep checking back in! :)
Keep checking back in! :)