Alison’s Montessori created this new material Animals of the Continents which is inspired by the Montessori geography curriculum. It can be used to supplement the Puzzle Map of the World or as an independent material. The set is comprised of seven wooden large cards representing all seven Montessori color-coded continents, with eight cutouts per continent (56 total cutouts), and a compartmentalized wooden box for storage.
Montessori practitioners usually introduce geography formally around the age of 3-4. The four-year-old child is ready to work with various materials in geography. One way to actively engage a child with the Puzzle Map of the World is through the study of animals. Children have already been introduced to the five groups of vertebrate animals in Zoology. They are familiar with the seven continents, and therefore; they understand the concept of matching specific animals to continents. Our material, being versatile in nature, can be used in a variety of ways to cater to the needs of children from ages 3-9. We would like to share with you some ways to utilize Animals of the Continents.
At age 3, children have not yet been introduced to the continents of the world. They will encounter this concept in the next months through the Globe of the World and Puzzle Map of the World. Children will learn about the world as a whole, then they will study each part. Therefore, at this age, Animals of the Continents can be introduced to provide rich vocabulary related to zoology and can serve as a primer activity for geography. You may use the 3-period lesson to present the animals.
Children ages 4-5 have been working with classification materials and are familiar with the process of sorting and categorizing. You may choose to break down the work by giving children 2 large continent cards and the corresponding cutouts. You can demonstrate how to use the silhouettes on the right side, which serves as a control of errors. Select a cutout, compare it to the silhouettes, name the animal, and place it at the bottom of the card. If the child does not have prior experience with naming the animals, it is necessary to go back to the exercise for ages 3-4, naming the animals. If a child is not yet able to identify animals using the silhouettes, you may add colored stickers on the back of each cutout to match with the color of the continent.
Five-year-old children have been introduced to geography and zoology. They are at the age where associating animals to continents is extremely relevant and they can make the connection between the two fields of study. Children are better able to understand animal adaptation for survival based on geographic origin. For instance, animals with prehensile tails are often found in tropical environments where they can hang in high trees away from predators. Animals of the Continents can be used to its full extent. You may want to bring Globe of the World to the working space as you work with sorting all the animals with their respective continents. This allows children to further associate the 2-dimensional representations of the continents and animals to the 3-dimensional globe. The large cards can be organized in a column or in a row. Invite children to select animals that they know first, name them, and match them to the large cards. They can check their answers by comparing their choice to the silhouettes on each card.
Animals of the Continents is so versatile, children can continue using it in the early elementary years! For instance, they may use the material as a bingo game. Put all the cutouts in a mystery bag, distribute all the large cards among a small group of children, and have them take turns selecting a cutout. They can name it after pulling it out of the bag, and keep it if it matches their card. They should return it to the bag if it does not match any of their animals. You can encourage them to choose and research one of their favorite animals and write about it in their science journal.
There are many ways you can incorporate Animals of the Continents in your learning environments, for any age group! There is great value in materials that can be used for many years. The set Animals of the Continents not only expands a child’s knowledge in terms of content, but it also helps develop skills such as classification, visual perception, and analytical skills.
This post has been made possible, thanks to Alison’s Montessori for having trust in their exclusively created materials. They provided me this material at no cost, per my request. This allows me to share the way I envisioned utilizing it in our learning environment. I hope this post has demonstrated how a material can be adapted and scaffolded for different age groups.
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