Extension lessons in each area of the classroom can and will vary from each Montessori affiliation and training course. They are often under used or ignored by Montessori teachers because they feel that by using them they are deviating from the 'real' Montessori curriculum. Or, they're still so new to Montessori that they aren't familiar with them.
There are some wonderful extension lessons that aren't necessarily recognized by any Montessori affiliations, yet they are very effective and loved by many children! Our online store at Montessori Print Shop offers hundreds of variations of printable Montessori Extension lessons that will compliment your Montessori materials at school or at home.
The bottom line is that Montessori extension lessons help the child to have further experience with the concepts of the materials. Often times the extension activity draws the child towards a more abstracted view of the original concrete concept that was introduced.
Most Montessori materials have extension lessons - in fact, it's hard to think of some that don't! There are many extension lessons that are shown in the form of 'games' and do not require any additional materials or 'paper work'. These games are seen mostly in the Sensorial area when using the geometric solids, playing matching games with the geometry cabinet and cards, the botany cabinet, the color tablets, combining the pink tower and broad stair, etc. As long as the child shows an interest and desire, the extension lessons made available to the child really are limitless.
Below you will see how the globes and map of the world lead to various extension lessons that can follow a child from their earliest experiences in the Casa (primary) classroom (2½ years) all the way until they are 7 or 8 years old.
Extension Lessons for Montessori Geography Materials
The child is first introduced to the world through the Sandpaper Globe. The terms used are 'land' and 'water'.
Once the concept of 'land' and 'water' are understood the concept of 'continent' and 'ocean' are introduced using the Color Globe.
The child then learns to use the map of the world as a puzzle - taking the pieces out and then replacing them.
The child is given the language for the continents; verbally at a young age, then given geography labels (free download) to read and place on the correct continent at an older age
An extension lesson that can be used along with the puzzle map is the Continent 3-Part Cards (or other 'world' materials). The child can use the Continent 3-Part Cards to practice the names of the continents; matching the individual pictures with labels and using the control cards to check their own work. The child does not require an adult to sit with them and give the names of the continents, unless of course, the child is not yet able to read.
Continent Boxes - The children can taste various foods, and plays musical instruments from each continent. This brings the continent, its people, and their culture closer to the children. It helps to give the children a greater understanding of the similarities and differences from around the world. Some things that can be included in the experience: musical instruments, pieces of clothing, tasting foods, reading books, watching a videos, looking at post cards, handling money, listening to music, learning which animals live on each continent, etc. Most of these items can be stored in a small box (shoe box) and decorated to reflect the continent.
Other extension lessons that do not require adult intervention are the Continent Folders (found throughout our Geography section). These photographic images are usually in the form of a 3-Part Card and cover topics such as animals, culture, food, landmarks, musical instruments, and daily life. These are an excellent addition to your continent boxes and give children a visual impression of life around the world.
Children can create their own map using a round hard plastic circle the same size as the hemispheres on the world map (as seen in the picture below). The child traces two circles on to a large sheet of paper. Then they trace around each of the continents on to a corresponding color of construction paper. The child pin pokes along the line of the shape using a stylus or sharp push pin.
When all of the continent shapes have been poked out, the child places them on the correct hemispheres they traced on to the large sheet of paper. The child then glues the continents in place, print out the labels (or ask for assistance if they are not yet capable) and glues them as well.
After the world map is complete then the child can choose their 'home' continent to begin further exploration using the puzzle map first and following all of the above extension lessons to gain further knowledge (names of countries, states, provinces, capitals, flags, etc.). Instead of pin poking each part of the map, the child can color in a blank map, then add labels, learn the flags of the country (make a pin map), add labels for lakes, rivers, mountains, etc.
The most important thing to remember when using or creating an extension lesson is to follow the child! If we pay close attention to the children they will lead us to places we've never been. Enjoy the ride!