Sunday, August 3, 2014

Land & Water Forms

Continuing our introduction to geography, DJ had his first presentation of the land & water forms this week. This material is used to teach the various shapes of land and water found around the world in corresponding pairs such as island/lake, peninsula/gulf, straight/isthmus, etc. While this is a very common early geography lesson, it has particular relevance to the region we live in, which is rich with lakes, islands, peninsulas, straights and a sound (which is similar to a gulf except with more than one entrance from the ocean).

As with all Montessori lessons, it is strongly encouraged to allow for real life experience before beginning a classroom exercise. So we started our week at this local lake that has a 3 mile path around it and a small island in the middle. It's of course not the first time DJ has seen a lake or an island, but it was a perfect start to our studies this week.

A core material for this work are 3-part cards depicting the various forms. They are printed on cardstock and then cut into three parts, one with just a picture, one with just the word and the third with both picture and word. Since DJ isn't reading yet, I used just the picture/word combo and left the other two parts aside. The images that I used are available free from the Helpful Garden, which I'm very grateful for. She provides a print version and a d'nealian (italic) version. I, however, wanted the text in cursive so I copied the images and created my own cards.

Another material used in this presentation are 3-part cards using actual images. I copied most of these pictures from Google Images and pasted them into the same template. I chose to use aerial/satellite images rather than a vantage point from land because it's easier to see the full shape. I might at some point add another set of cards from a land viewpoint.
image source

Finally you get to the fun part of this presentation. The 3D land & water models. It is possible to buy these premade from Montessori vendors but the AMI albums suggest for you to create the forms from clay with the child and then allow the child to recreate them afresh each time they want to do this activity. This is another example how AMI presents only the core principles to the child, with encouragement to explore in more detail on their own, therefore less adult driven and more child led.

To create the clay forms, I purchased this Monster Clay which does the job but unfortunately is very hard until it's heated in the oven in which case it turns liquid if it gets hot enough. So I'll have to find an alternative if DJ is going to be able to do this work independently.

Here are my lake and island models. You can't quite make out the water in the picture. I could have put blue food color in it but chose not to. Pardon the colorful bird tray. It's the only one I have that isn't wooden and thus not susceptible to water damage.  The bowls are deli food containers that I already had in the kitchen.  They are only 8oz and I like the small size because it feels more manageable when working with all the materials together.

Here is DJ exploring the forms along with the printed cards and his continents globe. I think the look on his face says all there is to say about his opinion of this activity.  After shaping the lake & island, we also did the peninsula & gulf, only I didn't get a photo of those clay forms alone.

This photo shows DJ pouring the water into the peninsula form and you can see the gulf form waiting for its water.  You can also see the two sets of 3-part cards for this set too.  I chose images of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, because to those of us in the United States, they are the two iconic representations of these land forms.

After that DJ wanted to go play in the part of the yard where he excavates dirt with construction vehicles. (Yes, it's his favorite part.) There is a good size hole in this area so we took water from the pool to make our own mini lake. We also tried to make an island but it was pathetic and not photo worthy!

The next day, we went to a local beach on the Puget Sound for a play day with friends, which is only 5 miles from our house. Although I've lived in this region of the world for 7 years and am quite familiar with the sound, when I began studying geography the Montessori way, I had to look up the definition of Sound to understand what it is.  As I said before, it is the same as a gulf, only with more than one entrance, in this case there are three.  You can see DJ to the left of the photo. The ferry in the distance travels to a nearby peninsula. From this beach you can see the peninsula and two large islands, one to the north and one the south.

And that concludes our introduction to the land & water forms, Montessori style. With of course, MUCH more exploration to come. Stay tuned!


  1. Awesome exploration!!! And what a beautiful area to love in :)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jessica! We had a lot of fun and I'm sure we'll be revisiting this lesson many times.