Friday, June 19, 2009

A geography blitz is coming! (and giveaways)

So . . . it's been a while since I've posted some "good" stuff. My apologies. I've got a geography blitz of posts lined up, so hang on! If you have a very young child and think, "this doesn't apply to me", please hang on! Your child will be old enough to do these activities before you can blink! *sniff* I will be doing a few small giveaways (or big if you don't like making things!) over the next few posts, so keep checking back! Again, if you can't use the things I'm giving away NOW, you will be able to use them soon enough!!

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! :)


  1. I'm so behind :) I wouldn't have thought to start doing geography, but it's a great idea! I did a better job with my first 2 of encouraging the things they were interested in, but I'm TOTALLY slacking with my younger two! Thanks for your encouragement and reminders :) Jack is really into bugs right now, so we've been reading every book on bugs that our library has.

    I think I did similar things with maps when I was a kid. I've always loved them, too! I thought I was the only nerd who did stuff like that :) I also would recopy my homework because it wasn't neat enough (for me) or because I didn't like the way I organized my answers. Oh the hours I wasted!

  2. would love to have these! we haven't really gotten into geography, but when a map presents itself, grant always wants to see it. he is very into the wheres of everyday and his imagination is all of the sudden very vivid!

  3. what a great idea! i agree with you that it's never too early to start preparing for things to come. i would love these cards to add to the things i am collecting in a cabinet for learning projects as they become age-appropriate! right now she is really into anything book related or puzzle related.

  4. I commented the other day for the first time, and here I am again! I may just become a regular commenter!

    We would love to have these cards! Lately, my Jonah (who turns 4 in July) loves to BE the teacher. He has the gift of "administration". Ha! He also really gets in to puzzles.

  5. I have a 3 year old and twin 18 months old. They are into everything! These cards would be great for my big girl!

  6. My son is into building with anything, trains, general adventure outside. My little girl turned 2 today and is into all things girly: babies, playing house, dress up, etc. My 4 year old son loves to work the map of the US puzzle so this would be something neat to do with him.

    stephensons4 at embarqmail dot com

  7. Love the idea of teaching kids about the world first and then country, city, state, street! From Big to Little makes so much sense!

    Laura Byars put together some of the supplies for some of your "games" as we call them at our house, and Meredith loves them!

    Thanks for taking the time to post all this great stuff for those of us who don't have a clue! :)

    Ruth Smith (BHCC)

  8. Please enter me in the drawing. Camden's shown some interest in maps, and his daddy loves them, so I'm expecting Camden's interest to keep growing.

  9. Enter me into the fun drawing! Jackson is really into role play and "costumes" (knight, football player, spiderman, pirate, etc.). He is all about taking on a different persona.

  10. My little guy enjoys the clothes pins activity you posted a while back, but his absolute favorite thing right now is to pour a cup of buttons back and forth using several different cups/bowls. Laura Byars had put together the buttons and bowls for us for spooning or sorting, but Joshua wants to pour. As long as he's having fun. :) Thanks for all the great ideas!

  11. My 7 year old is very visual. He would love a set of these. What a great way to start geography.

  12. Have you read this book "Are we there yet, Daddy?" Presley and I just checked it out at the library. The dad keeps telling the boy to look at the map to see if they are there yet. There is a pull-out map at the front of the book and smaller maps on each page. Looks likes something Lawton would love.

    Tracy (McCulloch) Martin