GEOGRAPHY 🌎 Feed

DIY ☀️Solar 🌎System Craft From ❌♨️No-Cook Natural 🏡Homemade Play Dough 

As a tribute to National 🚀Space Day, which is held annually on the first Friday in May, we are making a DIY Solar System craft from homemade no-cook natural play dough.

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 To explore our solar system and the planets, we read National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space which is kids' absolute favorite Space book with colorful illustrations and simple text, explaining basic concepts of the universe as well as its wonders!
DSC_0122First, to resemble Space, Adrian made black play dough. ( See the recipe and details on how to make this natural play dough here ~in a post "No-Cook Homemade 🌈 Play Dough Recipe.")
DSC_0122Next, apply glue to a large cardboard piece and spread the black playdough over it.
DSC_0122Leave empty the space for the sun as it will be easier to glue the Sun to the cardboard rather than over the play dough. 
DSC_0122To resemble our universe and the sparkling twinkling stars, galaxies, and supernovas, we are adding glitter to our black play dough.

DSC_0134 We are using this iridescent and this chunky-holographic glitter.
DSC_0134Did you know that stars come in different colors and sizes? From blue to orange to red!

DSC_0134Making the Sun from our natural no-cook play dough. 
DSC_0134Yellow glitter adds shine and sparkle to our yellow Star.

DSC_0134Next, trace planets on a cardboard. We are using this book for size-reference.

DSC_0134Glue the Sun to the part of cardboard that has no play dough. 

 Earth Play DoughMake each planet (by spreading the play dough over the cutout cardboard piece) according to planet's characteristics, such as size, color, surface.

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Finally, arrange the planets in order: 1) Mercury, 2) Venus, 3) Earth, 4) Mars, 5) Jupiter, 6) Saturn, 7) Uranius, 8) Neptune. Discuss the four terrestrial planets, separated by the asteroid belt from the four gas giants. Bring child's attention to any distinguishable planetary detail: such as The Great Red Spot on Jupiter (a huge storm raging on for hundreds of years) or Neptune's The Great Dark Spot (a huge spinning storm in the southern atmosphere of Neptune which was about the size of the entire Earth). 

DSC_0160You can also discuss the solar flares and winds and how the Earth's magnetic field interacts with the solar wind and acts as a shield to protect Earth from damaging solar particles.  See a video from NOVA’s Sun Lab here

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We also watched an amazing series NOVA - Origins which presented some startling new answers to questions such as "Has the universe always existed? How did it become a place that could harbor life? Are we alone, or are there alien worlds waiting to be discovered?" Both, Julia ( 8 yo)  and Adrian (4 yo) were absolutely intrigued and engulfed in this miniseries ~an absolute must-have DVD for any inquisitive child (or an adult)!

Please, see our entire Space and Universe round up here ~ in a post "🌌Cosmos 🚀Space ☄️Universe Inspired Themed Unit Study."

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❄️Polar 🌎Regions Unit Study • 🎅🏻 🇦🇶Land 🌊Water 🌬Air

Today, we are learning about polar regions of the Earth, also known as the Earth's ❄️frigid zones that surround Earth's geographical North and South Poles. These regions are very cold, covered by snow and polar ice caps: the northern resting on the Arctic Ocean and the southern on the continent of Antarctica.

DSC_0166Adrian is using Montessori Sandpaper Continent 🌎Globe (read a detailed post here).

The differences between 🎅🏻 the Arctic and 🇦🇶Antarctica:

Antarctica, or the south pole region, is a continent which is covered with an immense ice cap. The Arctic, on the other hand, is a polar region surrounding the North Pole and consisting of the large Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. Polar habitats are too cold for trees to grow, so tundra, the only place where any vegetation grows, takes up a lot of the area. In tundra, during spring and summer time, the ground only thaws just enough for short grasses and moss to grow, but the tree's roots can not go as far down into the ground as they need to because deep down the ground is frozen. Animals who live in polar regions have adapted by having thick fur or feathers to keep warm, and hunting fish or each other rather than relying on plants and vegetation which are scarce to maintain their diet. Polar bears live solely in the Arctic, while penguins are found in the southern Antarctic regions, amongst others. So, since penguins reside only in the Southern Hemisphere, they had never crossed a path with a polar bear.

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As a first lesson, Adrian sorted animals by their habitat: 🎅🏻 🇦🇶LAND, 🌊WATER, 🌬AIR, rather than by the pole's geographical location. 

DSC_0039Parts of a Penguin Puzzle (buy here), Arctic/Antarctic animals set (here), Killer Whale (here).

 

🎅🏻 🇦🇶 LAND

DSC_0063  To represent LAND, I placed some soil in a glass jar.

We talked about Inuit people in the Arctic building igloos from snow as a shelter (also known as a snow houses or snow huts). Air pockets trapped in snow make it an excellent insulator, so the temperature inside the igloo when warmed by the body heat alone may range from −7 °C (19 °F) to 16 °C (61 °F) while on the outside, it can be frigid cold as low as −45 °C (−49 °F) - that is more than 100 °F difference!

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DSC_0058Caribou, also called reindeer (buy similar here), are native to the Arctic region. In the spring, herds of Caribou make a long journey north from the Arctic forest. It is the longest migration made by any land animal. On the way, they give birth to new calves. When they finally reach the tundra, caribou eat everything in sight. When winter comes and the food is scarce, the fat stored in their bodies gives them needed energy.

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Musk Ox (buy here) have inhabited the frozen Arctic for many thousands of years, and their long shaggy hair is well adapted to the frigid climate. The outer long furry hairs , called guard hairs, keep Musk Ox warm and cozy. Underneath all that hair is a layer of shorter wool undercoat, which provides additional insulation in winter. This undercoat falls out when temperatures climb at winter's end. Musk Ox roam the tundra in search of the roots, mosses, and lichens that sustain them. In winter, they use their hooves to dig through snow to graze on these plants. During the summer, they supplement their diet with Arctic flowers and grasses, often feeding near water. Musk Oxen are herd animals, and groups of two or three dozen animals are sometimes led by a single female. Herds use cooperation to deal with predators, such as wolves. When threatened and to protect the young calfs, they "circle the wagons" and array themselves with their young in the middle and their sharp horns facing outward toward their foes. A cornered musk-ox can be a fearsome enemy, charging with its massive bulk and attempting to use its horns to deadly effect.


🌊WATER

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Seals (buy here) live in the cold ocean waters of the Arctic or off the coasts of Antarctica. Some seals make caves in the snow to live in, while others never leave the ice pack and poke breathing holes in the ice. Fur seals and sea lions (buy here) live in the Northern Pacific between Asia and North America and off the coasts of South America, Antarctica, southwestern Africa and southern Australia. 


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A polar bear (buy here) was tricky for Adrian to sort, so he placed it in between the LAND and WATER. Polar bear is the only bear considered to be a marine mammal because it depends on the ocean for majority of his food, while spending a lot of time on ice hunting, mating and denning. Its fur is thicker than any other bears’ and covers even the feet for warmth and traction on ice. A thick layer of blubber beneath the fur provides warmth and insulation. The front feet are large, flat and oar-like, making a polar bear an excellent swimmer. Polar bear is the largest land carnivore in the world (rivaled only by the Kodiak brown bears of southwestern Alaska), thus sitting at the top of the food chain in the biologically rich Arctic. Polar bear feeds primarily on seals, the remains of which provide food for many other Arctic wildlife species, but it is also known to eat walrus, beluga whale, birds’ eggs, and (rarely) vegetation. 


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Orcas (buy here) are marine mammals, and although called killer whales, they are not actually whales, but are the largest members of the dolphin family, in the order Cetacea, which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Some killer whales feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals (known to grab them right off the ice), sea lions, seabirds, and even other adult whales, employing teeth that can be four inches long. Orcas were given the name “killer whale” by ancient sailors’ observations of groups of orcas hunting and preying on larger whale species.  They called orcas asesina ballenas, or “whale killer.”  Their Latin name, Orcinus orca, also reflects this observation as Orcinus translates to “of the kingdom of the dead,” and orca refers to a kind of whale. "Killer whales" are one of the world's most powerful predators, which can be found in each of the world's oceans in a variety of marine environments: from the Arctic to the Antarctic to tropical seas. Orcas are also an apex predators - meaning that there is no other animal that preys on them. For more on Orcas, read here.


🌬AIR

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A snowy owl (buy here) is a large species of owl, but due to a snowy habitat, it often has snow-white plumage that echoes its Arctic origins and protects it from chilly Arctic winds. A snowy owl has a thick feather coating even on its feet, protecting them from the frigid Arctic cold. The snowy owl is a patient hunter that perches and waits to identify its prey before soaring off in pursuit. Snowy owls have keen eyesight and great hearing, which can help them find prey, such as arctic hare, that is invisible under a thick snow-cover.

Atlantic puffins, (buy here) also known as dubbed “sea parrots” and “clowns of the sea,” have large brightly-colored beaks. Crisp black and white markings on their plumage, as well as superior diving capabilities, have led people to compare the northern seabirds to penguins. However, Atlantic puffins are actually not related to penguins at all. They are in fact small seabirds (about 25 cm, or 10 in., long). 


In continuing our Polar Regions of the 🌏 Earth unit study, Adrian enjoyed putting together Parts of a Penguin Puzzle (buy here). Having aesthetically pleasing wooden design, the puzzle stands faithful to the Montessori ideals of beauty, simplicity and realism, while teaching the child parts of the animal.

DSC_0037View a video of Adrian putting this puzzle together in this post


To learn the names of the 🐋🐇🐧 animals, Adrian is using Polar❄️️ Animals matching cards. 

In the process, he is practicing recognizing written words and matching a picture to an object. This video is featured in a post "🐋🐇🐧Polar Animals Matching 🔖Cards 📽️ Activity" - see here.


IMG_9745See here 🎅🏻 North vs 🇦🇶South 🌎Pole 🌬Frozen ❄️Sensorial🙌🏻Invitation to Explore.

I hope you enjoyed our Polar❄️️ Regions Unit Study. For more on Winter activities, see here ☃️ Winter Inspired Unit Study. 

You might also like to read here our "🌊 Ocean Unit Study."

Read here about matching stages for Montessori 3-Part-Matching 🔖cards.

If you have missed our Holiday Inspired unit, see here a roundup of December activities in 🎄Christmas Inspired Unit Study.

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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 🎇)."

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🇺🇸 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."

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🐮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.

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