Montessori Basics: Geography

Geography: a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface

Geography is a commonly taught subject in most schools, with children learning about maps, the globe, and various countries and land features. Montessori schools do this as well, but as with most subjects, we tend to take things a bit deeper (even for our younger students). This article highlights the scope of our geography curriculum.

One point to note: Montessori teaches children beginning with a ‘big picture’ view, while slowly narrowing in on details. We believe this makes information more developmentally appropriate as well as giving children a sense of the interconnectedness of all things. This approach also leads to some overlap with other subject areas, which is a good thing!

Globes, Maps, and Physical Features of the Earth

Geography work starts early in our primary classes. Children begin with an introduction to three different globes; one is blue with sandpaper continents, the next is blue with smooth white continents, and the third is blue with colorful continents. Montessori materials have specific colors designated for each continent: Africa is green, Asia is yellow, Australia is brown, Antarctica is white, South America is pink, North America is orange, and Europe is red. These early globe experiences help give children a sense of the roundness of Earth and the differences between major areas of land and water.

Children then move on to using the puzzle maps; a classic Montessori material. They begin with a map of the continents that utilizes the same colors they learned on the early globe, and then explore puzzles for each continent of the world. There are also more specialized puzzles available, including one of the fifty states, the provinces of Canada, etc. These are first used in the primary class but continue through lower elementary.