Continent Boxes - a collection of photographic picture cards, small objects and knick-knacks relevant to 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 cards and objects that should be included in a continent box: musical instruments, money, pieces of clothing, landmarks, animals, food, and flags. Most of these items can be stored in a small box that is decorated to reflect the continent. Or a table or shelf can be dedicated to one continent at a time. We carry an extensive collection of photographic cards for each continent.
After the world map is complete, the child can then choose their home continent to begin further exploration using the puzzle map first, and then following all of the above extension lessons to gain further knowledge (names of countries, states, provinces, capitals, flags, etc). Instead of tracing and pin-poking or cutting each part of the maps, the child can color in a black-line master (outline map) using the corresponding puzzle map colors. They can 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 the most interesting places!
Children can create their own map using a round hard plastic circle (the same size as the hemispheres on the world puzzle map). The child traces two circles on a large piece of paper. They then trace around each of the continents on to corresponding colored construction paper. The child pin pokes along the lines of each shape using a stylus or sharp push-pin, or cuts it out using scissors. When all of the continents have been traced and cut out, the child glues the continents in place on the two traced hemispheres. They can print out continent labels (or ask for assistance if they are not yet capable) and glue them on to their map.
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'.
The child is given the language for the continents; verbally at a young age, then given labels 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. The child can use the 3-part cards to practice the names of the continents; matching the individual pictures with the labels and using the control cards to check their 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.
The child then learns to use the map of the world as a puzzle - taking the pieces out and then replacing them.
Once the concept of 'land' and 'water' are understood, the concept of 'continent' and 'ocean' are introduced using the color globe.