To many, the concept of geography seems to be a difficult venture, yet with the right approach, even toddlers and primary children can learn it! Geography comes to life when it is presented in the way young children learn best. The Montessori approach to geography allows the child to learn with a hands-on approach.
Montessori Geography is divided into 2 strands: they are Physical Geography, focusing on the Earth as a whole, and Political Geography, which includes continents, countries, their borders, flags, and more. Children start with physical materials, aiding them visually and sensorially. Through the use of these materials, children also learn geology, focusing on the Earth’s structure, which leads to study of rocks and other materials found in specific regions.
Montessori geography focuses on the connections of culture that humans experience throughout their lives. Teaching geography is approached by presenting the whole universe, which sparks the imagination of the child’s “curious” mind and answers the questions of the child’s “reasoning” mind.
Montessori materials that are used to explain geography include:
- Sandpaper globes, which are used in order for the child to run their hands and fingers over. The textured globes assist them in finding differences between various land and water masses throughout the world.
- Landform Models, which are miniature models of geographical formations such as islands, lakes, peninsulas, and isthmi. They have a raised level to represent land and the lower parts can be filled with real water, to depict the various formations and the development of lands over time, in a hands-on way.
- Montessori Puzzle Maps are wooden materials which help the children memorize the different continents and countries. The continents are color coded, which appeals to the child’s visual sense.
- These puzzles also help foster a child’s cognitive and fine motor development along with memorization techniques. They build social, emotional, language and vocabulary skills, and mental stimulation.