GEOGRAPHY 🌎 Feed

Science in a Bottle: DIY 🍂Terrarium🍃 and The 🌧️ Water Cycle (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)

Today, we are learning about the water cycle by making a terrarium and simulating rain, while understanding a very basic concept of how clouds hold water. Did you know that the amount of water on Earth is finite and has been the same since the early formation of the Earth? Yes, the glass of water you might be holding in your hand could have fallen from the sky when Brachiosaurus walked through lakes feeding on plants. And, when knights and kings ruled the land, they drank from wells, your glass of water could have been part of. And that same glass of water might fall from the sky as snowflakes hundred years from now. 

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To make a terrarium you will need:

  • nature's objects: such as bark, moss, marbles, leaves, pinecones, acorns, chestnuts (you can also use pea gravel or potting soil);
  • we also added forest animal figurines (buy here);
  • water + blue water coloring;
  • cotton balls to resemble clouds;
  • Gauze to seal the terrarium with a rubber-band.

 DSC_0087Since the Earth has a limited amount of water: the water keeps going around and around in what we call a "Water Cycle." This cycle is made up of few main parts:

  • Evaporation: the sun heating up water in oceans, rivers, and lakes, and turning it into vapor or steam. Also transpiration: when plants lose water out of their leaves.
  • Condensation: when water vapor gets cold (usually high up in the atmosphere where the temperature is cooler), it changes back into liquid, forming clouds.
  • Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The clouds get heavy and water falls back to Earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow.
  • Collection: when water falls back to Earth, it may fall back into the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land, soaking into the earth and becoming a part of the "groundwater" which plants and animals use to drink. Or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts ... ALL OVER AGAIN!

 DSC_0094Children used a dropper and blue-colored water to saturate the "clouds" causing precipitation.

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A terrarium (plural: terraria or terrariums) is a glass (or a see-through) container containing soil and plants, which is usually sealed, however, it can also be open to the atmosphere (similar to what we created).

Children learned, while practicing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, that when clouds become too heavy, it starts to rain. 

DSC_0094On the other hand, closed terraria create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium.
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This experiment was very illustrative to discuss the water cycle and how it works: 

  • Through transpiration, the moisture is carried from the soil through the plant's roots to small pores on the leaves.
  •  Evaporation occurs when tiny drops of water transform from a liquid to a gas (generally due to increased temperature).
  • Condensation takes place when the water vapor collects and turns from a gas back into a liquid.
  • And finally, precipitation happens when a lot of condensation forms, getting too heavy and falling to the ground, as here in the form of rain.

DSC_0087If you create a sealed terrarium, the heat entering through glass walls would naturally allow for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapor then condenses on the walls of the glass jar and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below, representing a complete natural water cycle. 

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As the light passes through the transparent terrarium wall, this can also be a fun experiment on photosynthesis, which is an important aspect of plant growth.

For more on Science, and property of water, see here "Pour 💦it in! Liquid Illusion," and also see here a video post "🎶Musical 💦Water 🌈Glasses (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)."


🇺🇸 Flag Day 2017

Today, on June 14th, we celebrate 🇺🇸 Flag Day, by paying tribute to the Stars and Stripes, and also to all the flags of the world. We love using Holidays as themed unit studies, and today, we are learning all about flags. 

DSC_0011This World Flag Board (see here) is a traditional Montessori Geography material, which offers a child an opportunity to practice fine-motor skills by inserting the correct 🇧🇷flags into their corresponding slots on the world 🗺map. Also, the board is double-sided, and the other side offers a child a "control-of-error" chart with flags being depicted and the names of countries they belong to written underneath, so that the child can self-correct. This is a really wonderful material to learn geography hands-on by developing spacial awareness of the positioning of the world countries, as well as learning about flags' meanings and what they stand for. It is amazing how a little piece of material can"tell" a big story!

Below is a fun fine-motor poking activity with a language twist. 

DSC_0001You will need:

  • a piece of styrofoam,
  • a marker to write a letter for a child to trace (illustrate to the child proper tracing direction),
  • flag toothpicks (buy here),
  • a tray (see here).

A child pokes toothpick flags into a styrofoam block, while tracing a letter. 
DSC_0011Adrian traced "F" for Flag.   

We then learned about flags and the meaning they convey.
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Flag of the Unites States of America. Flags of the World book (buy here).

There are fifty stars and thirteen stripes on this tricolored flag, nicknamed the "Stars and Stripes." The stars represent the number of states in the country. The last states to join were Alaska (bought from Russia for $7,200,00) and Hawaii, becoming the 49th and 50th stars. Also, there are thirteen stripes, corresponding to the thirteen original colonies in the Union. The white stripes signify honesty, and the red stripes: courage and fervor. The blue rectangle symbolizes loyalty, friendship, and justice. 

DSC_0015F Is for Flag book (on the right/buy here) is a simple beginner book to introduce the holiday.
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Flags of the World book (buy here) is a complete compendium of the world’s flags, grouped by geographic area. Each nation’s flag is paired with facts explaining flag's meaning and significance, thus providing a window into the histories, values, and cultures of countries around the world.

Waving in the wind, a flag may not seem like a code. But hidden in the stripes, stars, suns, moons, and colors of the world’s flags are the keys to understanding different countries’ shared histories and cherished ideals. Flags do much more than identify countries and groups of people. In every color, pattern, and design, the citizens and governments of countries announce their allegiances and herald their history. 

DSC_0015Ultimate Sticker Book (buy here) offers a child an opportunity to match the flags to the physical map.
DSC_0011-2Adrian also made "Flagooglish""from play-doh. (We have this International flag banner on the background).
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This is a fun play-dough craft to enjoy on Flag Day! 

You will need:

  • play-doh (we are using this natural play dough);
  • flag toothpicks (buy here),
  • googly eyes. 

Happy Birthday Stars and Stripes Flag!

See also here a post "🇺🇸 Flag Day - How We Celebrated in 2016."


🐮Land, 🐦Air, 🐙Water 🏷 Matching Activity

In a Montessori education, there is usually an introductory geography lesson focused on land, air, and water. Today, we are exploring animals' natural habitat through a matching activity, by sorting animals according to where they live: either on land, water, or air.

To introduce this lesson, I have put together a tray with the following materials:

  • a sandpaper globe to differentiate primarily land vs water (read a post here);
  • three glass containers with lids: I put some dirt/planting soil in one, some water with blue food coloring in the other, and the third one I left empty;
  • sorting and labeling cards.

I explained to Adrian that the Earth is made up of land, water, and air. I then offered Adrian to match the labels "land, water, and air" to the glass containers, and then match the animals to their respective habitats.

DSC_0018A (red) control card offers a child an opportunity to double-check the work once completed.

DSC_0018"This is what our Earth is made from!"
DSC_0019"A cow (buy here) lives on land." 

DSC_0018"An octopus belongs in the sea."

Octopus (buy here) can be easily distinguished from other squids because they have eight tentacles. They are called "octopus" because the Greek word "okto" means eight and "puos" means foot. If they feel threatened, they release an ink-like liquid, which spreads in the water like a huge, dark cloud. The octopus can thus disguise the direction of its escape. Did you know that octopus is a master of camouflage because it can instantly change its body color from grey-brown to blue-green, red or pink!


DSC_0018"A seagull is a bird. It flies in the air."

Seagulls (buy here) with their white and grey feathers, long, slim wings and their characteristic loud call are the best known coastal birds. Did you know that seagulls can drink salt water!

Animals live everywhere! They roam the land, they dig burrows in the ground, they swim in the sea, they fly in the air!  They crawl, jump, creep, leap, soar, they dive, and they fly! It is amazing how diverse their habitat is!

See a post "Animals Movement - Swim, Walk, Fly" here.

For details about matching activities read here a post "Language Objects with Matching Cards."

Read here "World Animals and its Continental Habitat" post.


💚African Savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Welcome to 💚Africa!  Jambo means "Hello" in Swahili!

DSC_0365Springbok is African National animal.DSC_0288

Disney's Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park. 

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The Savanna in Africa Disney is a completely natural habitat, carefully crafted to resemble closely Africa's ecosystem. It is 800 square miles of natural terrain, including forests, wetlands of the Safi River valley, and the open bush country of the Serengeti Savanna.  To create the 110-acre Serengeti, Imagineers moved 1.5 million cubic yards of earth and planted some 2.3 million exotic plants. Over 300 grasses (75 African) were seeded so that there would be ever-flowering grass.     DSC_0317Giraffes live primarily in savanna areas in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Their extreme height allows them to eat leaves and shoots located much higher than other animals can reach. In particular, they seek out acacia trees. Their long tongues are helpful in eating because they help pull leaves from the trees. They live up to 25 years in the wild. (Buy our Giraffe figurine here.)
DSC_0317Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. Their legs alone are taller than many humans—about 6 feet. They can run as fast as 35 miles an hour over short distances, or cruise at 10 mph over longer distances. It's not only a giraffe's long neck that distinguishes him from other animal species, but also his distinctive spot pattern. A giraffe's spot pattern is similar to one of our fingerprints. It's a unique identifier for each animal, helping other giraffes recognize who is in their family groups. Reticulated giraffes have the most complicated spot patterns of any giraffe subspecies, although it's often difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish differences between species or individuals.
DSC_0317When giraffes walk, they move both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side; this is unique to giraffes. However, they run in a similar style to other mammals, swinging their rear legs and front legs in unison. They can reach 55 km/h (35 mph) at full speed but only in brief spurts.
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 Giraffes sleep less than two hours a day. In general, they sleep with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their hindquarters, but they can also sleep for short periods of time standing up.

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 Elephants are large mammals and can be found in Africa and Asia. Male African elephants are the largest extant terrestrial animals and can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft) and weigh 7,000 kg (15,000 lb).Elephants have a long trunk or proboscis, used for breathing, lifting water, and grasping objects. Their incisors grow into tusks, which can serve as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Elephants' large ear flaps help to control their body temperature. Their pillar-like legs can carry their great weight. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs while Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or level backs.

Elephants are 🌿herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts, and marshes. They prefer to stay near 💦water. They are considered to be keystone species due to their impact on their environments. Other animals tend to keep their distance from elephants while predators, such as 🦁lions, 🐯tigers, hyenas, and wild dogs, usually target only young elephants ("calves"). Females ("cows") tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow. Elephants have a fission–fusion society in which multiple family groups come together to socialize. Calves are the centre of attention in their family groups and rely on their mothers for as long as 3 years. Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound; elephants use infrasound, and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and cetaceans. They appear to have self-awareness and show 💕empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

DSC_0356The name rhinoceros means 'nose horn' and is often shortened to rhino. There are five different species of rhinoceros, three native to southern Asia and two native to Africa. All five species of rhinoceros can grow to weigh over 1000 kg (2200 lb). White rhino can weigh over 3500 kg (7700 lb). (Buy our Rhino figurine here.)
DSC_0356White rhinos are the second largest land mammal, weighing around 7,700 lbs, but the largest ever recorded tipped the scales at nearly 10,000 pounds. They can grow to be nearly 14 feet long. Interestingly, white rhinos are not white and black rhinos are not black. They are, in fact, both grey in color with the main distinction being that white rhinos tend to be slightly larger and have differently shaped lips (white rhino - also known as the "square-lipped" rhinoceros, have a square upper lip with almost no hair.) These huge creatures might look overweight and slow, but they have a top speed of up to 40 miles per hour. Rhinos have poor eyesight (they can see only eight feet ahead) which may explain why they will sometimes charge for no reason, but have an exceptional hearing. White rhinos have complex social structures. Groups of sometimes 14 rhinos may form, notably females with calves. Adult males defend territories of roughly one square mile, which they mark with vigorously scraped dung piles. Sadly, the white rhinoceros is now an endangered species as they have low birthrates and many are unnecessarily killed for their horns which superstitious people believe have healing powers.


DSC_0356Can you see a cheetah?

Cheetah are the fastest land animal, which has a recorded speed of 109.4–120.7 km/h (68.0–75.0 mph). But they sprint only for short intervals, resting in between to cool their body temperature. 

DSC_0365Zebras are several species of African equids united by their distinctive black and white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Buy our Zebra figurine here.


DSC_0365Did you know that zebra is black with white stripes, as evident by their black nose. 

It was previously believed that zebras were white animals with black stripes, since zebras have white underbellies. However, embryological evidence shows that the animal' skin color is actually black, and the white stripes and bellies are additions. 

DSC_0273Meet the Lapped-Faced Vulture - the clean up crew of the natural world!

With a wingspan reaching up to nice feet, the African Lappet-Faced Vulture is the largest vulture in Africa. They eat the meat of dead animals, such as carrion and carcasses, which reduces the spread of diseases to humans and other creatures. Vulture's bold head is constantly infested with bacteria which decompose a dead body it eats, but the sun quickly burns off all the deadly microbes of vulture's bold head, preventing vultures succumbing to diseases. Besides vultures' faces, their large intestines are covered with bacteria that is toxic to most other creatures, but these birds of prey have evolved a strong gut that helps them not get sick from feasting on rotting flesh.

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The vulture’s bald head prevents bacteria from sticking to its body, and its powerful beak can tear open the tough hides of antelope and buffalo.

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Native African animals living in African Savanna are: Antelope, Mandrill, Black Rhino, Cheetah, Crocodile, Elephant, Flamingo, Gazelle, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Lion, Okapis, Ostrich, Warthog, White Rhino, Wildebeest, and Zebra. Overall, there are over 200 different species of birds and animals found throughout this preserve. Notably, many species are endangered or are on the brink of extinction, such as African elephants, American crocodiles, tigers, gorillas, white rhinoceros, and lapped- faced vultures, just to name a few, but thanks to Disney Imagineers, those species might be saved! 

p.s. Read here a post African Animals Language Objects Matching Cards and African Savanna Animals at Animal Kingdom Disney, pictures we took during our last trip to Disney.


Interactive 🇺🇸 United States 🗺 Map Puzzles

In continuing with our Geography 🌎 Theory 📖 Curriculum Lesson on 🗺 Mapping (read a post here), today, we are putting theory into practice by assembling some of our favorite interactive map puzzles. 

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We are also using miniature replicas of U.S. monuments (buy here) to add a 3-D to our puzzle.  

This USA Wooden Sound Map Peg Puzzle (buy here) is a light-activated puzzle, which says the name of the capitol when the puzzle piece shaped as a particular state is placed in the puzzle board correctly. Besides helping develop fine-motor and pincer grip via the use of the peg, this sound puzzle helps a child learn about the 50 American states and their capitols. The puzzle has 40 pieces, and I did not expect Adrian to be able to complete it at 41 months, but interactive sound really kept him engaged, and he tenaciously kept going until he had finished the entire puzzle. The light on his face when he exclaimed: "Mommy, I did it; I did it!" and the sense of accomplishment and confidence it gives to a child is immeasurable, and is worth all the effort.

Adrian also has been enjoying interactive TAG pen (buy here), and today, for the first time, he independently assembled Interactive United States Map Puzzle (buy here). This two-sided jumbo map puzzle teaches U.S. geography, map skills and famous U.S. landmarks through numerous interactive games  and over 300 audio responses. 

DSC_0028This puzzle works with a TAG pen, which is sold separately (buy here), but it is worth the investment since the pen works with any LeapFrog Reading system. 

Visit landmarks, meet children from around the country, explore state capitals, find fun facts and play 10+ games on a jumbo 2-sided U.S. map puzzle. Age 4-8 years Features Climb volcanos, fly planes, navigate lakes and learn about animals from coast to coast—with 300+ audio responses. Hear kids from across the country tell you about how they live, play and eat on the Great Plains, in Alaska and around the United States! Locate cities, measure distances, compare regions and find the 50 states and their capitals. Touch the compass rose to go on a musical journey across the United States and listen to regional songs. About the Series The Learn through Reading Series supports reading development by providing children with knowledge-building opportunities in areas of personal interest. Learning Difference Interactive maps are a great way for young children to explore the world and build basic map skills. Fun facts and engaging games inspire children to make real world connections with the settings of their favorite stories. 

DSC_0035The reverse side of the puzzle reveals the political map of the U.S.

For your convenience, I added these two puzzles as well as the geography materials we are loving to my 💖aStore 🛍 here under a single subcategory "Geography🌎Materials & 📚Books." 

For more on U.S. monuments and landmarks, see a post here "Presidents' Day - How we celebrate (U.S. Landmarks🗽 and Monuments🏛)"