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Added Oct 14, 2014

The Land and Water Forms

The Montessori Land and Water Forms introduce the child to a concrete experience of common topographical features, as a part of our larger curriculum in Geography and the Cultural Subjects.

In the Primary classrooms, five pairs of Land and Water forms are presented:

•island and lake

•gulf and bay

•archipelago and system of lakes

•cape and peninsula

•isthmus and strait

With each, the child is introduced first to the shape in isolation, learning the name of each shape as he feels the relative land and water. Each shape is molded from heavy, durable plastic, allowing the child to feel the raised "land" and to fill the trenches with water.Then, children are able to work with matched shapes, noticing that each form in a pair is the inverse of the other form. Eventually, children can search on topographical maps of the continents for examples of real forms in nature.

The Land and Water forms are naturally appealing to young children, who love to use these wet, messy lessons and will often concentrate for long windows as they explore the feel of the water on their fingertips. Building on that natural motivation, the materials introduce proper language for topography at a time when children are also more easily able to remember and integrate those unusual words. "Isthmus" and "peninsula" become playful sounds to construct. And cleaning up the material helps children to take responsibility for their work space, to develop their own coordination and sense of order and to build independence.

Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.

Christopher Academy Alumna

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