Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Antarctica continent box

As the children grew more and more confident identifying continent shapes, I introduced the children to our Antarctica box.Why starting with this one? Because we were still right in the middle of winter and the box fitted well with our Winter theme in the classroom. This box is definitely not finished and I am trying to gather more plastic animal to match our 3-part cards distinguishing animals living in the arctic world. Children have responded quite well to this new way of presenting a continent. What I used to do in the past was to leave a full box in our geography corner and let the children root though it. I did find the exercise quite upseting as the children were only using it as a treasure box, messing everything and not really learning anything. This year, I decided to introduce the children to the contents of the box gradually. To do so, I used several trays to display the materials. 


We started with pictures of some landmarks. The children used the 3-part cards matching the cards together and noticing what they could see as they went along: water, ice, iceberg, snow, moutains etc... I didnt insist too much on the specific name sof these landmarks as long as they registered distinctively the major traits of the Antarctic landscape.
Then, I added another tray with simple cards representing what goes on in Antarctica. The children were amazed to discover that some small boats need to break the ice in the sea to allow bigger boats to get through. They also had a look at the ice pics used to climb mountains and the special spiked boots required to be able to walk in an icy and slippery environment.
Another time, I introduced a tray with 3 part-cards of animals that can be find in Antarctica. I got all the materials from Montessori for Everyone, laminated them and bound them together.

When the kids were a bit more familiar with these animals, we went look in more details into a certain type of animals: penguins!

This was so much fun to extend the study to other areas of the classroom: books in the circle-time corner, drawing and pre-writing skills area (we did the same activities as last year, see right here) etc... Later on, I added plastic animals. I am still looking for a whale, an octopus, a seal and a star fish to add to our collection. But I'll get there!

This new presentation of my continent box was a success. Having ony a couple of trays set out at a time really made the materials more visible and a lot more inviting to use correctly.