A hands-on approach to teaching Geography has many benefits. Children grasp complex concepts with ease as they emerge into the learning process. We headed with my preschooler to the beach to learn about land and water forms – one of the subjects covered in the Montessori 3-6 curriculum.
Nature is a wonderful and inspirational source of learning opportunities no matter where you choose to explore it. Children are free to learn and discover outdoors at their own pace, which normally requires a great deal of movement. As you probably know, learning and movement are closely intertwined. We do lots of outdoor explorations with hands-on activities. As Maria Montessori said: “Nothing should be given to the brain that is not first given to the hand”.
Living right next to the water gives us a great advantage in using natural resources to learn about the outside world. Simple activities turn into child-driven adventures. Learning about land and water forms on the beach seemed like a fun activity to do as a part of our Montessori Outdoor Weekly Explorations.
Since we’ve spent time learning about the shape of the Earth and the fact that it’s covered with land and water, it was time to start exploring land and water forms. For those who are not familiar with Land and Water Forms Presentation, you can watch this video made by Montessori Training – Montitute
You probably noticed, if you watched the video, how precise the language is. I have seen (and have done it in my classroom) teachers adding replica animals to encourage open-ended play with these after the presentation. Also, adding food coloring to the water always adds some extra special elements. There are 10 different forms presented as a part of the 3-5 Montessori curriculum – lake-island; cape- bay; strait-isthmus; gulf-peninsula; system of lakes – archipelago. In addition to the trays with forms, children also work with 3-part cards to learn to identify land and water forms. We found a beautiful set of free cards on The Helpful Garden Blog with many different choices of fonts.
Making land and water forms out of the sand was a great experience. I started by presenting lake and island, then invited my preschooler to help make these together. Have you noticed that every time you make something with your own hands or involve different senses in the process, it helps you process and retain the information so much better? It definitely was the case with my student. She grasped it and learn vocabulary easily, and squealed with excitement every time she had to get water from the ocean to fill in the forms. So here is what we did:
Revisited the fact that the Earth is round and covered with water and land, that water covers a major part of the surface of the planet
I pointed out that there are various land and water forms
I explained that we are about to find out what some of them look like
I made an island out of the sand and said the definition
I invited my student to bring some water and fill in the island form
Then I glided my hand to feel the island and invited her to do the same
It was Miss A’s turn to make a lake.
We repeated all the same steps once again, but this time with lake form
After that, we did make a couple more forms, but we will be revisiting them later once again.
It was great fun and we sure did entertain many people on the beach setting up our activity and demonstrating Montessori homeschool learning in action. Geography is a fascinating subject, so why not make it hands-on and exciting. Children always love building sandcastles and digging in the sand, DIY Land and Water Forms Activity fit perfectly into that category of fun.
You can find among my free printable sets Land and Water Forms Around the World Cards. You can access it by signing up for my newsletter here.
Learning Resources YOu Might Find helpful in Your Classroom
All about the Earth learning activity pack for preschool children aged 3-6. The earth-themed activity pack contains printables to create a wide range of hands-on experiences for young children.
Students will practice phonics, building and recognizing teen numbers, cutting, push pinning, identifying continents, lands, and water forms, widen their vocabulary, learn about characteristics of the earth, practice developing logical thinking, learn about moon phases and layers of the earth, and so much more.
The printable features realistic clipart and photographs.
Here is what’s included:
Instructions and activity variations
Phonics – initial sound sorting cards (five cards for each letter, feature photographs)
Land and water mats – fine motor activity with building blocks
Seasons – sorting cards (six cards for each category, feature photographs)
Land, water, air – sorting cards (seven cards for each category, feature photographs)
Land and Water Forms – playdough mats and sorting cards (feature clipart and photographs)
Land and Water Forms – 3 part cards, definition cards, and student booklet (feature clipart and photographs, backline clipart)
Land and water forms included in the printable: lake, island, cape, bay, peninsula, gulf, strait, isthmus, system of lakes, and archipelago.
Teen number cards and backline booklet – counting, identifying, and matching quantity and symbols
Continents of the world (Montessori color-code) – different styles included – eastern and western hemispheres, different world map styles, outlines and color versions of continent outlines, world maps with labels (including oceans) and without labels
Continents of the world 3 part cards and backline booklet
Continents of the world – cards for
Continent cutting strips
Layers of the Earth chart and playdough mat
Storytelling with visual prompt
Phases of the Moon – (southern and northern hemispheres) charts, 3 part cards, student backline booklet
Major Biomes of the World is a set of 3-part cards, information posters, and worksheets for students to learn about the major biomes of the world. It includes a map, 3-part card activities, descriptions, follow-up coloring, handwriting, and sorting activities.
Three-part cards and sorting activity with three major groups of rocks – Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic. Rocks are often a great point of interest for lower elementary students. It is easily translated into a hands-on experience for children who enjoy looking up various types of rocks and learning their origin and proper name pronunciation.
Seasons in Nature Printable contains: 4 work mats for sorting 24 picture cards for sorting (6 for each of the seasons) Sun and Earth rotation poster to place in the middle British and American versions
The printable features photos of birds and eggs. Each card set comes with a photo of a bird + a label, a label card, and a photo card of eggs including a picture of the bird that laid them. This makes it easier for children to connect the right picture of eggs to the right bird without assistance.
From a fragile and beautiful bird egg to a glittering meteorite from space, discover more than 100 intriguing natural objects with fascinating tales to tell in this beautifully illustrated wildlife book for children. This unique nature reference book has a fun, new approach that teaches children about nature through objects. It includes: • More than 100 amazing objects that you can find in nature made by geological processes, or by plants and animals. • Four chapters: Animals; Plants, Fungi and Algae; Minerals and Rocks; and Made by Nature. • Illustrated diagrams that support understanding. • Large, detailed photographs of truly fascinating objects. • Eye-catching jacket finishes: gold foil, holographic foil and metallic gold edges.
NATURE JOURNAL: Exploring nature with children through fun journaling. These activity books were created by parents who found a way to guide kids to discover and observe the outdoors with simple drawing and sketching. When given a purpose and excitement for finding plants, animals, and landmarks, your kids will enjoy learning to draw on this illustrative workbook in their own backyard.
by Editors of Storey Publishing (Author)
Jump-start curiosity with this take-along field guide for children ages 4 to 8. From worms, birds, and spiders to trees, flowers, and clouds, young explorers learn what to look and listen for wherever they are — whether in a nature preserve, an urban park, or a suburban backyard. Seek-and-find lists, on-the-trail art projects, and discovery games get kids engaged in hands-on learning about nature, and a real pull-out magnifying glass helps them get a close-up glimpse of leaf veins, seed pods, and tiny insects. Filled with activities, checklists, and stickers, this interactive nature guide belongs in every kid’s backpack.
See the world in a whole new way! Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman combines art and science in this exciting and educational guide to the structure, function, and personality of the natural world. Explore the anatomy of a jellyfish, the inside of a volcano, monarch butterfly migration, how sunsets work, and much more. Rothman’s whimsical illustrations are paired with interactive activities that encourage curiosity and inspire you to look more closely at the world all around you.
From the smallest speck of sand to the stars that blanket the sky, nature is full of incredible things to explore. Inspire little ones to learn about the world they live in with this colorful and imaginative choice in nature books for kids. It’s packed with fascinating info and full-page photos that teach children about the weather, seasons, plants, animals, and more.
Kids are full of big questions like “What makes plants grow?” or “Why does the moon change shape in the sky?”. Awesome Outdoor Experiments for Kids can help them find the answers! It’s a treasure trove of outdoor adventures, with more than 50 fun experiments that show kids science in action as they play outside.
When words in verse are paired with the awesomeness of nature, something magical happens! Beloved former U.S. Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis curates an exuberant poetic celebration of the natural world in this stellar collection of nature poems. From trickling streams to deafening thrunderstorms to soaring mountains, discover majestic photography perfectly paired with contemporary (such as Billy Collins), classics (such as Robert Frost), and never-before-published works.
Girls can do anything, and Adventure Girls! proves it! Packed with exciting activities and crafts for girls (ages 6 to 12), this book inspires young adventurers to be curious, innovative, and bold. From stargazing and animal tracking to making a pinhole camera and building a shadow theater, Adventure Girls! is not one of your typical craft books.
Crawl into the wonderful world of bugs—a fun photographic adventure for kids ages 3 to 5 Take your child on an educational adventure bursting with the kinds of colorful photographs you need in bug books for kids. The Backyard Bug Book for Kids has everything you’d want in bug books for kids: a story, pictures, and activities combined. Introduce your little one to the types of bugs they’re likely to see during their day, then help them remember what they’ve learned with fun, on-the-page challenges.
by Fiona Cohen (Author), Marni Fylling (Illustrator)
Filled with fun facts and 100 full-color, beautiful, and scientifically accurate illustrations, this nature guide will inspire kids to go outdoors and discover the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Did you know that baby raccoons are smaller than a bar of soap? Or that salmon smell using little pits in the front of their eyes? Curious Kids Nature Guide is filled with full-color illustrations and fun facts about the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest, encouraging kids to discover and explore nature in their own backyards and beyond.
Immersed in the natural world, The Organic Artist for Kids inspires creativity by connecting kids and their adults to our wilderness roots. In addition to offering a wide variety of fun, collaborative projects using nature as a source for art supplies and inspiration, this book also introduces the concepts of awareness and perception that are fundamental to the creative process.
In the era of screens and devices, the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors, and children are no exception. Not only does this phenomenon have consequences for kids’ physical and mental health, it jeopardizes their ability to understand and engage with anything beyond the built environment.
Wild creatures, cloud formations, plant habitats, and more―nature is full of wonders to behold and explore! In this nature journal, young naturalists will get all of the guidance they need to study and record their experiences of the natural world.
Clare Walker Leslie shows kids how to experience nature with all five senses, whether they live in the countryside, a major city, or somewhere in between. Guiding children through inspiring activities like sketching wildlife, observing constellations, collecting leaves, keeping a weather journal, and watching bird migrations, The Nature Connection encourages kids to engage with the world outside and promotes a lifelong love of nature.
From the author of the bestselling book 50 Things to See with a Small Telescope, this colorful edition explores the constellations with young readers, guiding them to dozens of galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Every page features a helpful “telescope view”, showing exactly how objects appear through a small telescope or binoculars.
Get ready to explore the sky above, the ground below, and all the plants and creatures in between! Made just for kids, this nature anatomy book teaches you about the incredible forces and living things that exist in nature.
by Pamela Hickman (Author), Carolyn Gavin (Illustrator)
Balancing child-friendly facts with colorful illustrations, this perfect introduction to plants is sure to inspire the budding naturalist in every child. From crowded cities to open prairies, deserts to wetlands, plants grow everywhere! This comprehensive introduction will open children's eyes to the plants that surround them every day and how important they are to life on our planet. It covers the basics of plants, such as their parts, life cycles and growing zones.
The birds, the bees, the flowers and the…TREES! How do trees grow? Why do leaves change? What kind of tree is that? The acclaimed Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s guide answers all kids’ (and their parents’) tree-related questions in an easy-to-understand way. It features 33 different trees that grow in North America, from rural Georgia to the streets of New York City to the California suburbs.
Anyone can get lost while camping or on a hike and Survivor Kid teaches young adventurers the survival skills they need if they ever find themselves lost or in a dangerous situation in the wild. Written by a search and rescue professional and lifelong camper, it’s filled with safe and practical advice on building shelters and fires, signaling for help, finding water and food, dealing with dangerous animals, learning how to navigate, and avoiding injuries in the wilderness.
by Mrs. Peanuckle (Author), Jessie Ford (Illustrator)
With playful text, bright illustrations, and sturdy pages, Mrs. Peanuckle's alphabet books will engage toddlers, and take them on an alphabet adventure through the natural world! Explore the wondrous world of hiking while learning the ABCs with Mrs. Peanuckle! Mrs. Peanuckle takes on the outdoors and shares all her favorite animals, plants, and more in her latest tour of the ABCs! From A to Z, Mrs. Peanuckle introduces toddlers to 26 different natural-world experiences. With bold, colorful pages, strong graphic art, and exciting design, these simple nature words are sure to be a hit with budding hikers and curious young scientists.