“North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.. don’t forget Australia, don’t forget Antarctica..” sang a group of proud preschool children as we reviewed the continents during a geography presentation. Geography is an essential area of interest in the Montessori classroom. At the start of the school year, we focus on land, air and water, moving into maps and globes and eventually spending time exploring the individual continents that make up our planet.
Maria Montessori believed young children have the inherent desire to define and “find” themselves; the need to understand their place in the world. While working with the continent puzzle map, a child was recently overheard telling a friend, “I took an airplane from Maine to Japan,” while drawing his finger from North America to Asia. Another child was working with the continent stamps to create his own map and stated, “Europe is red!” A teacher reminded him of his recent visit to Bulgaria and pointed to show the child the distance he had traveled to get there. “Wow, that’s far!” he exclaimed. One day, a child pointed to his half eaten bagel and announced, “It’s South America!” and it certainly bared a resemblance to the continent.
“Our care of the children should be governed not by the desire to ‘make them learn things’ but by the endeavor always to keep burning within them the light which is called intelligence.”