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Z (3 years old) loves and already knows all the seven continents, but I wanted to show him the concept of Western and Eastern hemisphere.
So here’s what we did:
Western and Eastern Hemisphere – Cutting an orange in half
First, I decided that I needed to show Z how the Western and Eastern hemispheres come about. Concrete learning is very important for children aged 2-6 — it is the way they are able to learn before moving to an abstract level.
I took an orange and drew a rough impression of the seven continents, making very sure that when we cut the orange in half, the hemispheres would turn out correctly. Then I used acrylic craft paint to paint the continents.
I hand-wrote and drew the labels for Western and Eastern Hemisphere with arrows. The arrows work as a control of error in this exercise. I also colored the arrows with the continent colors (except Antarctica which is just white.) Although he can’t read yet, he can roughly guess words using the beginning sounds — in this case it’s “w-w-western” and “ea-ea-eastern.”
I find it so thrilling when the activities I do with Z spark a deeper interest, curiosity or question. You can see the gears in his mind are just cranking away! He is already wondering about “up and down” and so the Northern and Southern hemispheres would definitely be another lesson in the near future, along with compass directionality.
Western and Eastern Hemisphere – Paper plate watercolor painting
Then I thought we can incorporate a little art into our lesson, after all when a child reproduces his work, the lesson becomes reinforced in his memory.
I created a rough outline of the continents — first using pencil, then a marker, then using crayons. I apologize that my outline was really bad. You may have noticed that Antarctica in the Western hemisphere is way off! Plus I spelled Antarctica wrongly and just realized it. I learn something new every day through my children!
Then I let him paint away! The continents were a breeze for him to paint.
Then he had to paint the oceans. And painting carefully around the continents isn’t an easy job for a 3 year old, it requires some practice. He went really rough in the Western hemisphere and poor South America is totally covered by water, but after I demonstrated how to carefully paint around the lands, he did much better in the Eastern hemisphere.
The paintings and the labels will be left on his shelf for further exploration and repetitive work. I love how he is making his own learning resources! (except the labels) 😉
- Curiosity peaked on Northern and Southern Hemispheres. If you watched the orange cutting video, you will notice that he is already asking where is the “up and down”, so a lesson on Northern and Southern hemisphere is coming soon. Compass directionality will be a natural extension as well. I just have to go buy a compass (so sad that we don’t have one in the house.)
- Coloring inside/outside the lines. Today’s art exploration made me realize that while Z wasn’t able to stay inside the lines using colored pencils, somehow he does much better using liquid watercolor. I believe it has to do with being able to make wider strokes with a brush and needing to use less pressure. So I will be doing more painting with him to encourage him to slow his movements, concentrate and color carefully.
- Awareness of the big body of oceans. Z has always known that the blue represents the ocean or water. But he wasn’t aware of how big it was until he had to paint so much of it today. At night, when he showed Daddy his work, he named all the seven continents effortlessly as usual. Except this time, at the end, he added “… and the oceans.” This is my cue to start introducing the oceans to him! My strategy is to do a few more art activities with him first, using and exploring some other art techniques, but really focusing more on the oceans but without saying or teaching anything … until he asks me the golden question “Mommy, what is this ocean called?” (or something along those lines.)
- Here’s our first geography lesson — it has our DIY Montessori continents globe, videos of him singing the continents song, and the Montessori continent colors (the continents are color coded so the child is able to connect more advanced lessons later on, such as habitats, animals, people, culture, etc.)
- Oceans 3-part card and control card — These are really pretty ones!
- Montessori oceans puzzle — This is a beautiful one, but unfortunately it’s in the UK and will be too pricey to ship to Canada. Wanted to list it here anyway so you have a rough idea.