A Geography Lesson in Spanish
Watch a 3-year-old discover the globe, in a LePort Spanish immersion Montessori classroom, and see how we teach geography, from preschool through elementary.
Geography at LePort Montessori
See how we teach geography, from preschool through elementary.
Early in the preschool years, a LePort Montessori child gets introduced to the Montessori globe. First, he learns about land and water: the smooth blue areas are water, called oceans; the rough areas are land, called continents.
Next, the continents and oceans are named—and colored to identify them more clearly.
Then, children see how continents on a globe are represented on a flat map. In preschool, they use planisphere puzzle maps, taking pieces in and out while saying their names. Note that each piece has a small knob, which is lifted by the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. This repetitive grabbing of the little knobs helps strengthen the fingers needed to properly hold a pencil–one example of the multiple purposes of our Montessori learning materials.
More advanced versions of these puzzle maps show countries within continents, and states within countries. Again, initially children just use these to explore sensorially–to take pieces out and fit them back together again. Once they have mastered this step, they may continue to match countries to a control map, reading their names.
Often, children decide to make their own maps. In Primary (preschool & kindergarten), you can often see children punching out the shapes of countries with little pins, then gluing them on a large piece of paper. This process both helps them strengthen their three-finger grip—and, as it takes a very long time, helps develop concentration and persistence.
Older children may trace around the puzzle pieces, and color them in with colored pencils. This, too, is a great preparation for later writing and reading, as they need to color carefully within the lines.
Elementary children may make more elaborate maps—sometimes coloring them in with watercolors, and labeling them in neat cursive handwriting.
In elementary, they also encounter more advanced maps. With these pin maps, they label countries. They label capitals. They associate a country’s flag with the country.
Other versions of pin maps allow the children to label geographic features—key mountain ranges, rivers, lakes.
Geography of course extends beyond political and physical maps. As early as in preschool, our students explore and learn the names for land and waterforms. While archipelago or isthmus may seem hard words for adults, they are just one more easily absorbed piece of vocabulary for a five-year-old.
Further study in the elementary years includes labeling and understanding more detailed features of geography—such as the parts of a river. In this material from one of our Spanish bilingual elementary classrooms, children can do the work in both English and Spanish.
Once students get interested in learning about places around the world, the Montessori elementary class sets them free. Here, a student is doing research on a country, using books both from the classroom library and from trips to a local library. They integrate knowledge for their lessons on fundamental needs of man, a part of the Montessori history/social studies curriculum—discovering how different people live—their clothes, their food, their shelter, their work, their spiritual lives. They write reports—integrating geography with language arts work. Explicit geography work continues in our upper school program.