Learning about the seven continents is a great way for preschoolers to start learning about geography. The continents are quite large and relatively few in number, making it easier for preschoolers to identify them. Preschoolers can better learn to identify the continents by reproducing them through art projects like painting or drawing. They can also use art projects like modeling and painting to learn more about the cultures represented by these continents.
Create a Map or Globe
A map or globe can help to reinforce the shape of the continents so that preschoolers can recognize them by sight. Cut out the shapes of each of the continents from different colored construction paper and write the names on them. If you want to create a map together, use a large foam board and let preschoolers paint it with green, brown and blue paint to represent the land and water. Then glue the continents down in place together. If you create a globe, you can do so with a styrofoam ball or papier mache. Again, let the students paint, color or decorate the globe with markers. Once the continents are in place, allow them to paint or draw anything they know about the place, such as pictures of foods or animals.
Design Landmark Models
Working with safe, air-drying clay or Play Doh, preschoolers can design models of famous landmarks from different continents. For example, the pyramids can represent Egypt, the Great Wall of China can represent Asia, and the Golden Gate Bridge can represent North America. Of course, you will have to show photos of these items to the preschoolers so they can model them. The art project will teach preschoolers more about the culture of different continents, as well as to reinforce concepts of basic shapes, such as pyramids and squares.
Paint World Flags
Flags are highly recognizable symbols of countries within continents. Many preschoolers may only be familiar with the flag of the United States. After showing them some flags from around the world and talking about where they are from, invite preschoolers to paint their own world flag. Use small pieces of paper, such as 3-by-5-inch index cards, for the flags. Children can refer to pictures when re-creating their flags. You can then post the flags on a large world map to show where those countries are on the continents.
Construct Continent Boxes
Living Montessori Now recommends that preschoolers make items to represent the continents. After talking about different animals, foods, and other items that can be found in each of the continents, ask children to draw, paint or model these items from clay to put in a small shoe box. This might include an elephant from Africa, a rainforest tree from South America or an eagle from North America. Each child can pick whatever items they want to create, and then the whole class will sort their creations into the appropriate boxes. It will be helpful to hang a poster board for each continent on the wall with different ideas.
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