Sunday, March 29, 2020

Continent Studies - Africa Part 1


It has been all hands on deck these past two weeks since we have had our school suspended for COVID-19.  Since that time I have been working with many other Montessorians across the globe to get things into the hands of educators and parents.  I have been wanting to get back to blogging with regularity for some time now but have had other very pressing and difficult circumstances in my family's life to take care of first.  I am so glad things had gotten to a good place before all this happened.  I am also so grateful I have this platform already in place to make an impact for my own students as well as for so many others.  I wish to thank my readers for the outpouring of love and kindness at this time and in the past.  I want to be one of the helpers.  Thank you also for being one of the helpers.

We are gearing up for our Africa studies in Sequoias Class and I've been knee deep in creating new materials that are friendly to not only the classroom but for home as well.  In this post I will endeavor to share what I have made and a few other things I absolutely love.

Continent Globe
Continent Puzzle Map

Setting the Stage

Whenever we are introducing a new continent for study I will always take the Continent Globe and Continent Puzzle Map together during a Line Time.  We will sing the Continent Song together while pointing to the continents on the Continent Globe first and then again using the Continent Puzzle Map.  The WHY behind doing this is simply - the younger the child the more often they need to see that these things mean the same thing.  With the continued one-to-one correspondence practice more children will pick it up.

Every time we begin a new continent of study the children in our class renew their interest in coloring, cutting and pasting, and painting the continents.  

More advanced Early Childhood students will appreciate making their own Continent Globe.  This is also very beneficial for adults to create when a Continent Globe is not available.  If the child is really interested you can have them do the coloring with a little support.  The cuts make it difficult for Early Childhood students to know what color belongs where but it is such fun work.  I take whatever color they should be using and make a small mark in the spot to color.  This way they can be as independent as possible with the least amount of interference from adults.  Once colored they will need plenty of support in taping it together so it forms a globe.  

Continent Flat Map Work
The Colored Globe Cut Out
The assembled Globe
This following Coloring sheet is so helpful for this.  Whenever there is work that has a specific way to be done you should create a Control of Error.  That is one which is colored in the correct colors as an EXAMPLE. I always write EXAMPLE on the paper or else it may grow legs and go home with some little one.  Even then it may happen, but much less often. 

Continents of the World Coloring Sheet
This can also be used when a Continent Puzzle is not available.  You can print off two sets, color one set in the continent colors and the other with the blue ocean.  Then you can cut out the 
continent set and use them in place of the Continent Puzzle Map.

Assembling the Continent World Coloring Sheet to be used in place of a Puzzle Map
Continents Coloring Sheet Assembled as replacement for Puzzle Map

Introduction to Africa

Once we sing the Continent Song I will point to Africa and ask which continent this is.  Once that has been answered I will tell the children we will now begin our study of Africa.  There are two very good ways to introduce a continent.  The first is with ARTIFACTS and the second is through PICTURES.

In Montessori Classrooms we sequence our work from most concrete to most abstract.  Artifacts are the most concrete representation of a continent.  I find artifacts from friends who have visited and brought things back for me, by visiting my local second hand shops, and sometimes online.  I try to get as many things second hand as possible.  Carvings, textiles, jewelry, money, art etc. all make great artifacts for students to explore.

Add in photo of artifacts

Line Time Photos of a continent are large enough for everyone at the circle to see.  We want to give an overview of the continent in a short enough time to keep the interest of the entire group while whetting their interest for more.  That is easy to do with all the continents, but Africa is fabulous!

Introduction to Africa Line Time Cards

Once I have introduced our Continent it is time to give small group lessons for these very cool works.

This work is so lovely for the youngest students to use and they love it.  All works on a Montessori shelf should have an indirect purpose.  This work with play dough and the fitting into the small spaces of the map develop both the gross and fine motor control of the child.

Africa Play Dough Map
This work helps the child with the fine motor control as they tear green paper strips into pieces small enough to be glued onto the paper.  The older the child the better they will be with the fineness of their tears.  It is a great thing to challenge your older and more advanced students to stay as much in the lines as possible.  This also develops hand-eye coordination.  I have included a page of green in case there is not access to a green sheet of paper.  It works best to cut the papers the child will use into a 1/4th of a sheet or even into strips 2 inches wide.

Africa Tear Map
When presenting this work I will show a small group of children the African Mask cards and then invite them to color, watercolor, paint, or use oil pastels to create a beautiful mask with the African Masks Coloring/Painting Pages. They are meant to be cut in half.  We keep a smattering of the masks on a tray for the children to choose from.

African Masks

African Masks Coloring/Art Pages

Something the children seem to enjoy a lot is the bold patterns of many African textiles.  These cards could to be printed twice to make a matching set.

African Textile Cards
  They could also be traced to make clothing like you see here using the Clothing Cut Out Patterns
Clothing Cut Out Patterns

This new work has been fun to create.  It is best suited for more advanced students to do independently.  Younger students will love doing this with a little support.  Follow their needs and help only as much as they need.

African Savannah Diorama Animals

African Savannah Animals Diorama Completed

Keep a look out for Installment 2 of Africa Activities!
Stay Safe!  Stay Healthy!


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