Geography and Cultural Studies
The Montessori Geography curriculum is two-fold: physical and cultural. Physical geography discusses the formation of the universe, the creation of the earth, and all its physical properties. Cultural geography is the study of human society and culture. The two together show the child that we are all members of the human race who must co-exist peacefully in order to survive.
The need to define and “find” oneself; the need to understand one’s place in the world. These fundamental human questions of self and the world are inherent in all of us. The youngest of children have a need to belong, to know they are safe, to understand their place in their immediate community – the family. It is within the confines of the family where the infant first learns about her place in the universe. The rituals and routines of the family are absorbed unconsciously, allowing her to later learn about and identify with other cultures. Using her senses, she expands beyond the family to discover the natural world.
Physical Geography Materials
• Puzzle Maps: These are specially made maps in the forms of intricate, color-coded, wooden jigsaw puzzles representing the continents, the countries of each continent, and the states of the United States. Children learn the names of given countries, the continents of the globe, the nations of North America, South America, and Europe, along with most of the states of the U.S.
• Land & Water Formations: materials designed to help the very young child understand basic land and water formations such as island, isthmus, peninsula, strait, lake, cape, bay, etc. At first, they are represented by three-dimensional models of each, complete with water. Then the children learn to recognize the shapes on maps, and learn about famous examples of each.
• Countries are studied in many ways. A number of festivals are held every year to focus on specific cultures and to celebrate life together: Anything that the children find interesting is used to help them become familiar with the countries of the world: flags, boundaries, food, climate, traditional dress, houses, major cities, children's toys and games, stamps, coins, traditional foods, art, music, and history. This interweaves through the entire curriculum.
• The study of the regions, cultures, and natural resources of the United States, including geography, climate, flora and fauna, major rivers and lakes, capitals, important cities, mountains, people, regional foods and traditions.