Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Geography and Montessori Homeschooling: Use Google Maps

While we love the traditional wooden maps in the Montessori classroom, there is no denying the fact that they are expensive! We encourage you to try to buy at least one -- perhaps sharing it among several families -- so your child can work with the small knobs and have the experience of handling the pieces, both require hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Google maps is a tremendous resource for parents at home. In the sample above (top picture), we searched for Australia, printed the results in a PDF file, and trimmed the excess. You can print this material for everything you want to use at home.

From the continent level, you can search for a state or country within a continent such as Queensland, Australia, shown in the bottom picture. Now you can print out a sectional map with the names of cities, areas, major bodies of water, and routes within that area.

Suggested exercises:
1. Print out continent maps for each continent. Arrange them on the wall so that the layout corresponds to a flat map of the world.

2. Children can color the land one color and the water another.

3. Your child can look up and draw the flags of each country or the main countries of interest. You can also print a flag for reference.

4. Older children can begin to research the continents, bodies of water, and countries to write short descriptions of each.

5. You can make your own cards with descriptions. For example, the Australia card might say "The Commonwealth of Australia, usually referred to as Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania along with a number of smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia is unique because the country is a whole continent." The cards can be used with pictures to mix and match.

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