Montessori Focus – Land Water Air Activity

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Today I am going to share with you one of the classic Geography lesson setups in the Montessori classroom for preschool children. It is a fun, hands-on Geography lesson that will help the child understand the concept of land, water, and air.

land water air activity

After presenting Sandpaper Globe (1), which helps the child to develop a concept of the shape of the earth, and gain an understanding of the distribution of land and water over the earth, the child is ready to work with Land, Water, and Air activity.

When presenting this activity to my 3-year-old daughter I offer her a tray with:

The child gives us a beautiful lesson – that in order to form and maintain our intelligence, we must use our hands. ” Maria Montessori The 1946 London Lectures

In the beginning, I ask A to put soil in one jar – I love this because it prompts her to activate problem-solving skills. She has to think about where she can find soil and how she can get it. The same happens with water. She is asked to bring water to the pitcher, pour it into a jar, and add a drop of food coloring. The fun part begins when you ask the child to put air in a jar. When presenting it in the classroom some run outside and swing the jar in the air, others blow into it. My kiddo waves her air jar from side to side.

Land and Water Forms 3 Part Cards Playdough Mats Land Air Water Sort

After we have all three jars ready, I demonstrate the sorting of the cards and allow my daughter to finish the rest. Once the sorting process is complete, she can check her work for mistakes. In order for her to do a self-assessment, I put stickers on the back of the cards.

As an extension or additional activity, this is one of my daughter’s favorites.

Other land, water, and Air hands-on activities

Another idea for a similar activity is to sort geographical pictures of water and landscape. You can find my free printable for water and land activity from the Free Resource Library here. 

land and water printable
Download from Free Resource Library

Here a 3-year-old child is building the Earth using green and blue block pieces to distinguish between land and water parts.

lego pieces making the earth
Land and Water Forms 3 Part Cards Playdough Mats Land Air Water Sort

Children enjoy building land and water forms using rocks and have sensory play with toy animals. Here we used two shallow containers, a jug, blue food coloring, rocks & shells, land and water forms posters and sorting cards, and toy animals to create this hands-on exploration.

child playing with toy animals that are in a tub with blue water
Land and Water Forms 3 Part Cards Playdough Mats Land Air Water Sort

Hands-on Geography Activities You Might Enjoy

Earth Preschool Pack – Continents, Land & Water Forms, 3 Part Cards

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.

earth pack printable

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, 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
  • push pinning
  • 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


find it on Teachers Pay Teachers

  About Anastasia. Anastasia is a former Early Childhood Teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 20 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Browse Anastasia's educational resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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