Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Geography Shelves

Today, on day three of my "back to homeschool" share of our program and approaches, I am discussing our work with geography. As a former social studies teacher you can imagine how much fun I think learning about geography really is, but so far I have some lukewarm kiddos in this area. Perhaps that's because I haven't yet pulled together a comprehensive presentation for them until this year, or perhaps they just haven't been as interested in geography for matters related to development or organic interest. Either way, I have a plan for this fall and I'm crossing my fingers that I'm not the only one who gets excited to explore our world!

Here's a look at our shelves, straight on:

 Simple, no? Since we haven't yet done much work with geography yet I'm deliberately keeping the focus on a couple main concepts which will start us off. By subscribing to the blog Living Montessori Now, which I highly recommend in its own right, I got a free Montessori method geography album with what will amount to a year's worth of geography lessons for us. Free! The lessons are positively beautiful and will be appropriate to do as a family, which will be a great time savor for us. The lessons start very much at the beginning, with a simple definition of what geography really is, and get progressively more intricate as the child's knowledge base grows. Children are asked to consider the origin and purpose of maps, then asked to make their own before they are asked to interpret someone else's map, for example.

 Here is the material that is currently displayed on the top geography shelf, although it will be a couple of weeks before we get to the point in our lessons where we're looking at *actual* places and peoples. Still, I have the space to showcase and pique some interest, and I intend to use it! One of the first things a child learns about the world when they use the Montessori method is that it is made up of land masses called continents, so when we get to that point in our sequence we will look at each continent individually.

I have already put together "continent boxes" for each continent, containing work and artifacts for the children to explore about each. (Post on that coming soon.) As we study each continent, I will display the contents of that box on the top shelf for the children to explore. Displayed here is a book about Australia borrowed from the library, and three part cards and landmark work from Montessori Print Shop's Australia/Oceania folder. The basket also contains an Australian animals work taken from MPS's Australia/Oceania bundle. I print, cut and laminate all MPS items to keep them in perfect condition for four children to use! Since I was an exchange student to Australia in college I have plenty of artifacts and photos that I will add to the shelf when we are really ready to begin our study of that continent, but for now simple is better.
The second shelf contains our atlas and our globe (I don't own Montessori globes mainly because I don't know where I'd store them, but I really love this one and might purchase it sometime soon if I find space.) The basket pictured contains all of the three part cards and continent maps for the kids to practice identifying each continent name and where it belongs on a map. In Montessori all continents are assigned a color, so each time the kids see a work about Australia, for example, they will see that the border is brown.
 The third shelf contains two sets of continent puzzles (sadly not Montessori in nature, so the color schemes don't match up) like this and this. Someday I'd like to own the Montessori world map puzzle too (while I'm dreaming why not go big, hum?). The other work displayed here in the basket is the Montessori Print Shop's Land and Water Form Photo Book, which encourages children to match pictures of landforms with their descriptions. When we arrive at this point in our geography study, we will most definitely be making our own land forms with crafty materials and playing all sorts of fun geography learning games that Pinterest has brought into my life... (follow my Geography Ideas board for all sorts of ideas). More on that to come as we complete each activity!

I also found this free, ready-made Around the World in 60 days geography curriculum available from Thriving Family Magazine, which we will edit to fit our needs and use as our understanding of the world comes into focus. This curriculum provides a free map, travel guide, passports and stamps for kids to use as they make stops in each country, and suggests one small idea or activity to do with kids to help them understand that place. We will modify the activities to meet our needs and will do a bit more exploration than just one idea per country or region, but I'm grateful for the free map and passport plan. Fun!

What are you planning for your little ones to help them understand the world around them?


  1. Lovely... and so organized! I have just started sorting and organizing my home school materials! I'm so excited for Grade 1!

    Wishing you a lovely day.

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the comment! I think this is my favorite time of the year- not just because of the change in seasons- but also because of all the wonderful possibilities the upcoming school year represents to me. I positively tingle to think of all the great things we're going to see and do together!

      Happy homeschooling!

  2. Hi Emily
    Lovely post. Just thinking if you want , my five year old and three year old are quite interested in 'north and south as they say and are fascinated by the fact that when you live in New Zealand like we do, to go abroad you can easily spend all day and night in a plane! If your kids would be interested in a little email back in forward to find out about life down here plus Sydney where my oldest was born we would be happy to oblige or perhaps even exchange a Flat Stanley figure to take photos with? We currently live in Auckland where of course it is Winter (but no snow!)
    Happy learning!

    Shari Tighe

    1. Hi Shari,

      That sounds very exciting! We would love to do a little "pen pal" or Flat Stanley exchange with you all! Send me an email with some details of what you would like to do!


  3. You are so organized. Everything looks so nice. I didn't homeschool my oldest son, who is in his 20s now. He wasn't taught much geography, if any, in school. So I like to be sure his younger siblings, whom we homeschool, are learning geography. One of my son's has taken a liking to it and learned to draw maps of the world free hand. He found some videos on YouTube that really motivated him to do this.
    I wanted to share with you this site where the kids can play geography games...and other educational games.

    Great post!!

    1. Hi Janet,

      Good for you for encouraging your children to explore geography, and even better that you're looking for ways to make it fun and relevant to them. I'll check out the site you shared- thanks for the tip!


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