Saturday, June 21, 2014

Montessori Continent Boxes

One of my most favorite parts of the Montessori Primary classroom is the geography area. In particular, I love the continent boxes. Continent boxes (or drawers, or bags, or folders, depending on your set-up) contain items and pictures from each of the 7 continents on our earth. Each continent has it's own box (or drawer, or bag or folder....you get the idea, right?). 

My classroom is the newest one in our school and so I am slowly adding materials to it. This coming year I am planning to study each of the continents with the children culminating with Australia which is also our country of the year. I have been garage sale-ing (if that isn't a word, it should be) and have begun putting our boxes (or in my case, drawers) together.
I found these drawers at a garage sale last weekend. The colors coordinate with the Montessori world puzzle map. The small box on top is for Antarctica. Not a whole lot of objects from that continent so I think the box will suffice! 
Here's how it works in the classroom: The child takes two rugs (in the Montessori classroom each child delineates his or her floor workspace with rugs - it helps keep others from stepping on one's work....most of the time) and places them side by side on the floor. The child retrieves the puzzle world map from the map cabinet and places it on the left side of the rugs (we always work left to right since that is the way we read). The child then retrieves the drawer they would like to investigate. Lets say they want to look at the Asia drawer. The child places the Asia drawer to the right of the map. The child places the puzzle piece of Asia under the map so he or she has some idea of the placement of the continent in the world. The child is then free to place all of the items/photos from the Asia drawer onto the rug as he or she looks at them all. 

This work is usually done by one or two students without much teacher involvement. The teacher can step in to talk with the child about the objects and to give any information in which the child seems interested. However, the learning objective of this activity is just to give the child some hands-on observation of things (people, places, money, dolls, animals, etc.) of one particular continent in our great big world. 

Maria Montessori (who lived in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century) was a believer in educating the child for peace. She believed that by helping the child learn about the whole world and all that is different and all that is the same, we will help build a more peaceful existence among each other. 

When I was a child, the only experience I had of the outside world and other countries was in church where we had a 'Junior Missions' program once per month. The only thing I can remember about that program are a few songs! Oh, the power of music. 

I am thrilled that we can provide much more information to the young child (remember I teach 3-6 year-olds). I know that the children will be thrilled with this new work in the classroom. Their love of knowledge and information is so powerful at this age!
Items include an Arabian man and woman, flute from India, Japanese money, and lots of other things. I see now that I have mistakenly put out the papyrus that should be in my Africa drawer! oops, I'll fix that. 
Above is the photo of the items in my Asia drawer. EVERYTHING in this drawer was either given to me (like the Japanese money) or bought at a garage sale. I'm always amazed at what I can find that other people are discarding. 

I will continue to search for objects from the continents throughout the summer. Asia is my most full drawer. If anyone has ideas for where I can find other objects from the other continents, please, SHARE!!!

1 comment:

Renae Cummings said...

Hi Beth. I happened onto your blog as I was searching domain names for a sewing business I am considering. I have two homes at the moment... in Michigan, and in Korea due to my husband's job. Being an elementary teacher (and a volunteer in a Korean preschool) I enjoyed reading about your classroom. If you would like some items from Korea for your Asia drawer, when I am back in the US for the holidays I could send them to you. I have brochures, maps, coupons, etc. from places we have visited, coins, traditional items like fans, bags, and bookmarkers, and "daily living" items like in the US but written in Korean (e.g. a Taco Bell coupon/punch card!). Just let me know and we could work out specifics:) BTW-I started a blog when I arrived in Korea...check it out if you'd like. (Adding some new posts is on my to-do list!) It's renaecummings.wordpress.com

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