Tag Archives: Montessori

Teaching Geography? 7 Hands-On Items that You MUST Have!

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Earth Science Strategies #2: Using Hands-on Materials

In the last post, I showed you how using models was an important way to teach earth science to young children. Now let’s talk about using hands-on materials as another earth science strategy. We’ll also see how teaching geography in your earth science lessons is easy, using the right materials.

Do you work in a preschool classroom or with young adults? No matter what age your students, you will love this list of models and concrete objects for the geography classroom. So, even if you’re not a Montessori teacher, you will see the usefulness of these items, for any grade. So let’s see which ones you need for YOUR classroom. {Then click on the links for more information.}

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Globes are useful for teaching geography through earth science work. {Photo via Creative Commons}

Teaching Geography Using Physical and Visual Models

Physical Models of the Earth and Its features

The more a material resembles the real object of study, the easier it is for students to understand it. So, start teaching geography and geology using models that are 3-dimensional images of the earth and its surface features.

#1 ~ Globes: There are many globes to choose from. First, use a physical globe with realistic colors for land and water , useful for all ages. {Always start with a globe that represents land and water using natural colors: green, brown, white, blue.} Maybe turn it upside down for a great conversation starter about “up” and “down” in space!

#2 ~ Land and Water Models:  Next, let students explore land and water features using water and models of basic surface features: island and lake, peninsula and gulf, isthmus and straight. Use these ready-made Montessori land and water forms, or make your own.

http://simplesciencestrategies teaching geography

Begin globe work that use two colors, only: green for land masses and blue for water bodies. {Photo Credit (c) Jason Wilson, 2006 via Creative Commons}

Visual Models of Earth features: Photographs

So, your students have an understanding of the way the Earth looks from space. Now it’s time to use 2-dimensional images (i.e., photographs) to study geography and earth science.

#3 ~ Photos of the Earth from Space: Because I subscribe to National Geographic Magazine at home, I like to use images from the National Geographic website.   But you can also use Bing to find amazing images of the Earth from space. Post one on your SmartBoard for students to see as they enter the classroom ~ use it as a discussion starter!

#4 ~ Land and Water Form Photos: Don’t throw away old magazines! Tear out images and begin creating a picture file ~ the high-quality images are great for so many learning tasks. Don’t worry too much about sorting ~ leave your filing system open and flexible. Magazine photos make great prompts for writing, too {see this article on using picture prompts with English Learners}.

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Use real photos of the Earth from space to spark discussion during earth science lessons. {Photo Credit of Hurricane Sandy (c) NASA/Rob Gutro, 2012 via Creative Commons}

More Visual Models of the Earth: Graphic aids

#5 ~ Climates of the World: Colorful posters about the regions of the Earth are great additions to earth science and geography work. For homeschool, we use the map that comes in the National Geographic magazine. We hang it within view of our work table. These two-sided maps often address bigger issues. For example, this month’s issue visually presents the changing Pacific coastline. In my classroom, I keep these maps in a file for student use.

#6 ~ Geography Nomenclature Cards:  Students use nomenclature cards to learn important concepts. Once students learn these concepts, the teacher then adds the label with the vocabulary word on it. While you can always buy nomenclature cards online, you don’t have to buy them. You can also download these FREE Montessori continents cards, or check out this Pinterest board for tons of other Montessori nomenclature materials. Or, if you’re handy, apply the ideas to create your own card sets, using concepts from your own geography curriculum.

#7 ~ Outline Maps: Students of all ages love maps. The Notebooking Treasury has thousands of blank outline maps to jump-start your geography lessons.  Check out the continent maps and the world maps, for starters. {If you want to try the notebook pages out first, download some FREE resources first — you’ll be very happy, believe me!}

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Posters and maps showing the climate and culture of a region are helpful additions to your geography and earth science studies. {Photo credit (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2016}

Time to Get Teaching!

In this post, I’ve shared just seven teaching materials that you must have, if you want to be a great geography teacher. Using these materials, teaching geography, in your earth science lessons, will be engaging and rich, for all ages.

What classroom supplies do YOU want to add to this list? Let me know in the comments section, below.

{Please note: this post contains some affiliate links. It also has links to some free and wonderful stuff that other educators are offering to all of us!}



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Earth Science Strategies, #1: Using Models

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Picking the Right Earth Science Strategies for the Very Young

Have you ever tried to teach about something vast, to little children who think their dad is huge? Or have you ever tried to explain why we have seasons, or night and day, to a five-year old?

Often, our classroom resources don’t help us. They are often written by science experts who work with older students. So, the earth science strategies and materials we are given in these lessons are ones meant for big kids. Furthermore, it seems that they simply water down the concepts, or take away the “hard” ideas, for preschool and kindergarten …  And what we have left isn’t what we know our kids can learn!

Beyond Rocks and Minerals: Big Ideas for Small People

What SHOULD little ones know about the Earth’s surface?

By the end of kindergarten, children should understand the following big earth science ideas:

  • Systems in the natural world have parts that work together;
  • Models are used to represent relationships in the natural world.

In this post, you will learn two earth science strategies that can help you teach these big earth science ideas, to even the littlest Einstein:

  1. Using models of the Earth and its features;
  2. Working with hands-on materials to explore the structure of the Earth.

By including carefully chosen classroom materials and using models of big ideas, you can teach big earth science ideas in an easy-to-understand and age-appropriate way.

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Using models makes understanding huge things – like mountain ranges – easier for young children. {Photo credit: (c) Karyn Christner, 2007 via Creative Commons}

What are Models?

A model is something that is used to explain an important idea or process, especially if it is very abstract or hard to see. It might be a physical model (such as a scale model of a monument or a diagram of a plant cell. But it could also be numerical (such as the equation length x width x height = volume), or verbal (“I before e, except after c”). Today we will be focusing on physical models.

Earth science strategies that include the use of models help young children learn about the Earth’s systems. First of all, they can represent something that is otherwise hard to imagine. In earth science, where we are teaching about huge things (planets, solar systems, stars), this is extremely important. Second, models of these things help children see how the parts work together in a system. Furthermore, a child who can physically move the parts of a model benefits even more.

What is NOT a Model?

Many people confuse replicas with models. A replica is just a copy (usually miniature) of another object. Kids playing with plastic animals in a sensory table are engaging in replica play. The plastic animals aren’t models, as they don’t explain an important concept, relationship or process.

Sometimes, we use activities that we THINK are earth science strategies that use models, but which aren’t. A well-known, and much-loved, example is the volcano that erupts using baking soda and vinegar. It’s fun, but it doesn’t teach students the important information about volcanoes:

  • their structure
  • relationships between the part above the Earth’s surface and materials below
  • the process of eruption
  • role of lava in forming the volcanic cone…

So, if you can’t answer the question, “What did you learn about the relationship between ______ and ______?” using a model, then it isn’t a model!

Models and Hands-On Materials for Kindergarten Earth Science

How do we select the best models for teaching earth science? Let’s look at early childhood programs based on Montessori, Charlotte Mason and Reggio Emilia ideas. Here, we find a number of good types of classroom supplies used to teach little ones, and see what earth science strategies use them. You will find these materials a help in teaching earth science to early learners, no matter where you teach.

Here are three kinds of science models that have withstood the test of time and are effective, hands-on ways to help young children understand concepts in earth science:

1.       Globes

First up in our list of earth science models is the globe. Globes are smaller-scale representations of the Earth. By using globes in earth science, students learn that the Earth is a sphere, surrounded by space, and that the oceans and land masses on its surface interact with one another in a global system.

Many Montessori classrooms also show the difference between the land masses and the oceans by using sandpaper to cover the continents of the Earth. As a result, students learn that there is a pattern to how the globe shows land and water in both color and texture, and the distribution of land and water over the Earth’s surface. Globes can also be used in demonstrations involving light sources, to help students understand day and night, and seasons.

Some globes split in two, revealing the layers of the Earth within. In this way, the model is used to show the relationship between the land masses on the surface and the materials deep within the Earth.

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Using globes helps young children understand the Earth’s position in space. {Photo Credit: (c) Jon Jordan, 2012 via Creative Commons}

2.       World Map Puzzles

To further explore the land and water of the Earth’s surface, early childhood teachers use a variety of sturdy world map puzzles to teach the relationship between the land masses and oceans of the world. Ideally, the pieces of the puzzle are shaped like the land and water masses of the Earth’s surface. Most early childhood teachers use wooden puzzles, often with knobs to help little hands grasp and place the pieces more easily. These sturdy classroom materials last for many years.

Earth science strategies that involve globes and maps also are used to connect to geography, as teachers can begin with physical maps and globes, and then gradually shift to using political ones.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com earth science strategies

World maps should have pieces shaped like the land forms of the Earth’s surface. {Photo credit (c) Katherine Clark, 2012 via Creative Commons}

3.       Montessori Land forms

The third example of the earth science strategies that I love to borrow from Montessori classrooms is the use of land form models. Using these models, students learn about the names for different land masses: peninsula, isthmus, delta, etc. Some teachers buy these land forms models. Still others create them using salt dough or similar materials, or even have the children make them.

Students focus on identifying and describing a specific land form, using its unique attributes. Then, they can apply this learning to their work with maps and globes.

4.       Other Helpful models and materials

There are other models that are helpful for specific parts of earth science instruction. One model is the stream table. Stream tables are extremely useful when talking about the interaction between the water and land masses of the Earth’s surface. Another model that I would add to your classroom is a timeline. Geological timelines can help students understand how slowly Earth changes are happening. Finally, when possible, use real fossils, rock and mineral specimens, and other earth materials for authentic hands-on work.

Final Thoughts on Using Models

Today, I’ve taught you what a model is. Additionally, we discussed how earth science strategies using models can help young children learn important earth science concepts. Finally, I shared with you three models that I think all early childhood classrooms should have: globes, world map puzzles, and Montessori land forms.

Next time, I will share with you some ways that preschool and kindergarten teachers have incorporated these models into a purposeful sequence, so that little ones learn important ideas about the Earth’s surface.

If you’re shopping for teaching materials…

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Illuminated globe with base ~ $49.98 at Hearthsong.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com earth science strategies models

World map puzzle ~$11.04 at Barnes and Noble

 

 

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What models do you use to teach earth science?  Leave a comment below!

 

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Get Started Teaching Science: You, Too, Can Be a Science Teacher!

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Teaching Science … Who, Me?

So, you’re teaching science next week… Moms, teachers: please raise your hand if you were a science major in college.

{Crickets chirping}

Chances are, you raised your hand – and that’s okay. Because most people weren’t. As a result, you know that teaching science is something that you must do this year… But where to begin?

You probably have a teacher’s guide for language arts. On your desk, you have workbooks with tons of math problems and handwriting practice. Maybe you boast ten lifetime memberships to computer game sites. And, of course, your library is filled with just-right books for you children. But the “what” and “how” of teaching science intimidates you.

So, to help you out, I will share ten tips for getting started teaching science ~ ways that anyone can begin. Choose any of these tips, and stick with it for 30 days, and you will be on your way to building a solid science teaching habit in your homeschool or classroom. I promise.

10 Tips for Getting Started Teaching Science

If you are anxious about teaching science, maybe you have one of three main problems:

  1. You have no clear science topic in mind;
  2. Perhaps you have a topic, but don’t have any ideas for presenting it;
  3. Or, you have a topic and some ideas, but wish you had more science knowledge.

So, let’s look more closely at each of these problems, and talk about some tips for solving them.

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You might be worried about finding a topic for your science lessons ~ but you need go no farther than your own yard to find one! {Photo credit (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2016}

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