Crafting the World: Moveable felt world map adventure!

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Is your child trying to learn the continents? Or perhaps knows them, but enjoys puzzles and putting things together? Let them try out this experiment!

This experiment allows kids to work with a world map with moveable continents to introduce or practice placing the 7 continents in the proper location on the Earth. It opens the door to having a deeper conversation about each continent (what major landmarks you can find, hemispheres, equator, animals you may find there, etc.).

Ready to take flight and visit the 7 continents? Let’s do it!

How to make the Crafting the World Felt World Map science experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

Here’s a good book to accompany this experimentOpens in a new tab.. It shows the outline of each continent (for the younger learners) and a few facts about each continent (for the older kids).

Before you start

If your child is cutting out the continents, please keep a watchful eye on them while working with scissors.

Instructions

Here is how to do this experiment with your child:

Step 1: Print out the 7 continents

We are doing Montessori homeschool right now, so the continents have their own associated colors in that curriculum.

These are the colors we used that go along with the Montessori curriculum:

  • North America: Orange
  • South America: Pink
  • Africa: Green
  • Asia: Yellow
  • Europe: Dark red
  • Australia/Oceania: Brown
  • Antarctica: White

I just did a Google search to find an outline for each hemisphere. If you would like to use what I used, here’s a free download for you.

I printed the eastern hemisphere four times on different color paper and the western hemisphere two times. Again, these colors go with the Montessori curriculum; you could choose whatever color(s) you have on hand too.

Printed hemispheres based on color for each continent

Step 2: Cut out each continent

The great thing about printing these out by hemisphere is you have a good idea of the location of each continent with respect to the others.

The hard part is knowing exactly where to cut when the continents touch one another. Just remember: it likely won’t be exact, and that’s okay.

We’re using this as a general teaching tool to show our kids the continents and where they sit on the Earth. We can make these more exact when we move on to individual continent felt maps!

Here’s where I made my cuts (Antarctica is pretty simple, so not including that here):

North America in orange, cut where Panama meets Colombia
South America in pink, cut where Panama meets Colombia
Europe in dark red, cut roughly along the transcontinental countries (Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan)
Asia in yellow, cut roughly along the transcontinental countries (Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan). Notice the western half of New Guinea is part of Asia here.
Africa in green, separated from Asia at the Sinai Peninsula
Australia/Oceania in brown, with the eastern half of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea) included

Step 3: Hot glue continents to felt backing

I wanted these to last, so I decided to use heavy-duty construction paper and hot glue it to cut out felt in colors that matched.

Doing this step also ensures that the continents do not easily slide around the felt backing, which is important when you’re working with a lot of moving parts like this.

Step 3: Talk through World Geography

All that’s left now is to talk through some of the science behind this fun exercise.

For toddlers, this may look like singing the “Continents Song” and introducing each of your cut-out continents with their names, then working on placing them on the map together.

For kids, this could look like identifying the continent by its shape/color, perhaps having them write the name of the continent on the cut-out, and placing it in the proper spot on the map. You could even talk about each continent (on a high level!) as you place them.

As always, meet your child where they’re at. If they have not yet had exposure to the continents, just watching you talk aloud and place them on the map is a great way to initiate exposure.

If they’ve worked with continents before, keep stretching them to see how much they have retained and how much they can learn.

Assembling the world map
Final product: an assembled world map!

The science behind the Crafting the World Felt World Map experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • World Geography
  • Spatial awareness
  • Sense of achievement

How it works

Creating a felt map of the world is a great educational tool to teach your young child about all of the continents of the world and where they fit around the Earth.

The continents can be color-coded to fit into any curriculum your child follows or you can choose the color(s) you would like to use (we followed the Montessori curriculum colors).

Using felt and heavy-duty construction paper is a great way to make sure your world map stays around for a long time!

World Geography

This world map puzzle is a way to introduce your child to the continents, where they are located on the Earth, and what separates continents.

The puzzle pieces represent the 7 continents of the world. As we fit each piece, kids can learn to identify and differentiate between the shapes of continents. This hands-on experience can make the abstract concept of continents more concrete and tangible for them.

The activity can be integrated with other subjects. For example, discussions about the types of animals found in certain continents can link to biology, or talking about famous landmarks can connect to history and culture.

Spatial awareness

Assembling the puzzle requires an understanding of spatial relationships. Kids can learn about the relative positions of continents to each other on the globe. They start to grasp concepts like which continents are near or far from each other and how they are arranged.

Working on a puzzle involves orienting and placing pieces in the right direction. This can contribute to their directional awareness, helping them understand cardinal directions like north, south, east, and west in the context of world geography.

Sense of achievement

Knowing your continents and where they are located on a map are both big accomplishments worth celebrating!

If your child is able to put the continents in their correct locations and name them as they do it, this will build their confidence in the classroom and give them pride in themselves. That’s a win!

More experiments about the Earth and spatial awareness to try out with your child

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