Exploring the World: Activities, books and ideas surrounding Geography, Landmarks & Architecture

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Lately we have had an explosion of interest in architecture in our house. Quentin has (like many children his age) an extraordinary memory for facts.
Then we noticed that he had the entire route to school memorized with all the “landmarks” in order along the way. All 30 minutes of it. It was time to help him explore this new love of his world.

It started (as it so often does in our house) with books.

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1. Walk this World 2. Young Frank Architect 3. If You Find a Rock

These are gorgeous books.

Young Frank Architect is one of Quentin’s favourites, and has a moral that thinking outside the box is a good thing and that kids creations are as relevant as the great architects of the 20th Century. It features at trip to the MoMA and showcases some of the “great Franks” of the architectural world.

If You Find a Rock is absolutely beautiful, and I will be sneaking it out of the house to use in my new classroom before our nature walks. A lovely poem about stopping to observe your surroundings and finding “special” and beauty in the natural world.

Walk This World is Quentin’s absolute favourite book at the moment. We’ve read it twice today. It features a day walking the world through some of the major cities. The art is amazing and simple. And it’s a door flap book kind of like a paper advent calendar. Behind the doors there are lots of hidden treasures including a tiger in the Taj Mahal, and a chicken riding the bus in…well, I’ll let you find out for yourself.

I also purchased some Safari Ltd. Toobs for Quentin. The Around the World Toob and the World Landmarks Toob coupled with some matching cards I made have been a hit, and he loves naming and matching them. Sometimes he will tell me a fact he has remembered.

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The Taj Mahal is made outta white marble. The Statute of Liberty is made outta copper. I don’t know what dis Parfannon place is. I gotta look dat up.

Part of this experience we are offering Quentin is the very basis of the Montessori “My place in this World” activity. It begins with a child identifying their house, their community, their region (state/province) and so on circling outward. Our nature walks have begun to incorporate not only being mindful of nature but also identifying “landmarks” such as bridges, trees and even rocks.

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We “Follow the Child” allowing time for him to stop and explore something more closely. We will walk to a point and then turn around and ask him if he remembers what’s coming up next. “The bridge!” He exclaimed rushing by on his bike, face full of concentration.

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Having him point out familiar things like the firehall or the park strengthens his sense of order and placement of the world around him. Allowing him time to explore and take pleasure in the things he sees is hopefully instilling a life long love of adventure and a knowledge that there is a big world out there to discover.

Montessori Book Review

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This book is one of the gentlest, guides to Montessori in the home I have ever read.

Broken into three parts (the 1st year, 1-3 yr olds, adults roll) it uses clear language to describe the different Sensorial Periods, and how a home environment can be easily modified by parents to help us support the immense inner potential of a child beginning at the hour of their birth. Not wanting to step on the toes of anyone else that has reviewed this book, I wanted to write about how this book made me feel.

As I said I was surprised how it reads like a novel, not a “Montessori Text”. It didn’t make me feel confused, or “dumb”. Instead it showed pictures. Lots of pictures all the way through of children using materials, and parents offering experiences to young children. Many of the pictures I felt a connection with because we have done the same thing with our boys.

There are no charts or graphs. Nothing to put that terrible little seed of “my child doesn’t do that” into my brain. Instead the book simply speaks of things to try in the general age groups mentioned above.

For example:

A mat on the floor, in a room that has been completely prepared for safety, allows a child to come and go, exercising all his developing abilities.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant and interested in Montessori. I would also recommend it to those parents that are like me: seeking a simple, gentle, but thorough guide of how their child sees the world, and what we can offer them in support of themselves.

Novel Ideas

This post can also be found on the new page with the same name. I’m hoping to keep this going there.

A room without books is like a body without a soul-Marcus Cicero

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We are a family of bibliophiles. I have fond memories of my Father reading to me every night. I spent many a sunny summer day, perched in a tree, surrounded by open fields, feasting on literature. So, when my parents came to visit us after Quentin came home, the first thing my Father and I did was make him a bookshelf.

On Quentin’s shelves for July: (the following contains affiliate links)

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Simple text, colourful artwork and a happy ending. There’s a reason it’s stood the test of times.

Jon Scieszka’s Seen Art
A small boy accidentally visits the MoMA looking for his friend Art. A great story and introduction to many artists and their work. Probably suited for 3yrs+ but Quentin loves the pictures.

Eric Carle’s Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see
Quentin asks for this every night. Not exactly Montessori due to the unrealistic colouring of the animals, but he loves pointing out the animals and claps at the end when we turn the page to the children.

Lois Elhert’s Eating the Alphabet
A new one for us. The artwork is stunning. A fantastic vocabulary builder for Quentin. Anthony enjoys reading the history of the foods in the back pages.

Lois Elhert’s Color Farm
This one is interesting. I love the geometric shapes, but the animals are too abstract for Quentin to identify them. Still, he loves the cut out pages. We will return to this one when he’s a little older.

Jon Scieszka’s Science Curse

Don’t ever tease a wee amoeba
By calling him a her amoeba.
And don’t call her a him amoeba.
Or never he a she amoeba.
‘Cause whether his or hers amoeba,
They too feel like you and meba.<

We’re also full blown science nerds.This is really just us making sure Quentin assimilates.

Lara Vaccaro Seeger’s Green
Also a new one for us. One of the most beautiful children’s books I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Although most of our rooms have bookshelves, not to mention the books on our bedside tables and coffee tables, this small bookshelf is one of my favourite things in the house. It is a memory holder representing a lineage of book lovers and holds my memories of my parents, grandparents and even my great grandparents sitting in a quiet spot reading. It is also a memory builder. Many a quiet hour has already been spent feasting.