Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homeschool Geography: Montessori Pin Flag Map of the Olympic Nations

Our Olympics unit study has been a huge hit with the kids, and has led to so many enriching academic experiences so far, from looking up historical footage of Olympic games on Youtube, to Will choosing to research Iran and North Korea after listening to comments that Matt and I made about them during the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, to watching live coverage of all kinds of sports the kids had never before seen.

One of the most rewarding activities so far, and one of the most enjoyable for Will, especially, to complete, has been this Montessori pin flag map that I set up for the 2014 Winter Olympic nations:

The materials for this activity are, in my cheapskate opinion, pricey, but you can re-use these pin flags and maps over the entire course of your children's educations--we've already used them enough to make them money well-spent.

For the pin flags, I culled the appropriate flags from my complete collection of Montessori pin flags. When the flat-headed sewing pins got too expensive, I switched to using steel-head pins, instead. These are less desireable, because they're more difficult for the children to push into the cork or foam board, but they're easily replaced, and it's good for developing grace and focus (not to mention strengthening those handwriting muscles, something that Will, in particular, can always benefit from).

I also now use a different storage system than I planned for in that post, but I'll go on and on about that another time.

The map keys are another resource from Montessori Print Shop. I have them laminated, with the labeled map on one side and the blank map on the other, and keep them with our set of Montessori puzzle maps.

The multi-page world map is a print-out from Megamaps--I use them ALL the freakin' time (our US map in the kitchen is also a Megamaps print-out). I printed the world map in a two-by-two page format--although bigger would be better (you'll see, in a minute, how crowded Europe inevitably is, sigh), this is the largest size that fits the big piece of foamcore board that we use, now, instead of corkboard for these maps.

I was surprised that Syd wasn't more interested in this project, since she's usually our biggest puzzle lover, but Will ADORED placing these pin flags. Seriously, she loved it. She had to be manhandled away from it when we absolutely needed her attention elsewhere. Mind you, at least for a nine-year-old, this is not a project that can be completed by the kid while you're in another room, happily minding your own business, and for that, it's not very "Montessori," but since Will isn't in a three-year classroom with a 12-year-old to help her, I played reference librarian and helped her with the research, usually giving her the continent where a particular country could be found, but also looking up anything that she was curious about. We looked up a LOT of pronunciations! We also did a lot of looking up of places on Google Earth so Will could see them in real life (I am a big proponent of having Google Earth in one hand anytime you have a paper map in the other), and plenty of talking about country borders, the Soviet Union, what happened to Hong Kong and Taiwan, and how politics works in India and Russia.

Heady stuff! My nerd heart was practically bursting with happiness.

Will spread this pin flag map work out over several days, coming back to it and focusing in for a while, abandoning it, but then being inexorably drawn back to it a little later:

Often, while watching the Olympics, a kid would recognize a flag that had been placed and go fetch it.

This pin flag map was clearly such fun to put together that I have to say that it's just bonus points that the result is so gorgeous:

We'll leave the completed map out until the Olympics Closing Ceremonies so that the kids can refer to it as needed, but then I'll spend a tedious couple of hours putting the flags back into place in their storage binder, untape the map from the foamcore board and store it back behind the bookshelf, and that's everything ready for another day!

Although perhaps I should prepare another pin flag map invitation for Will right away, since she liked this one so much. A US pin flag map *would* fit in nicely with our geography studies...


Tina said...

That is a beautiful pin map! I think I might have to make something like this for Emma's horse geography.

julie said...

Horse geography would be AMAZING! This is the first project that I've "created" using the pin flags, but I'm really inspired, now. I might make my own flags for our SOTW map work.

Tina said...

I think this year I will break down and by all the SOTW downloads. As much as we loved the one CD we got to listen to a few years ago, I think it would be a wonderful addition to our audio book collection.

julie said...

You know I'm biased, because I LOVE SOTW, but I think you should! We listen to our SOTW audiobooks practically every day.


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