In any Montessori environment, you will find these puzzle maps.
It is a material belonging to the Children’s House, or Primary level, for children from three to six years of age. However, it is a useful and interesting material for many elementary students also, particularly those from six to nine years of age.
Here Miss Adventuress is removing the pieces from the puzzle, and putting it together outside the frame on a large piece of paper to the side.
Then she decided on her own that she would like to trace each piece to make her own map. This is a common activity in the Children’s House, though it is never required.
Mr. Scientist was working on the Asia map at the same time. Each piece is a country, with the exception of a few of the tiniest which made it impossible. In those cases, there can be two countries on one piece. But as you see, that is very rare, and there are plenty of tiny pieces. There is a small knob on each piece to pick it up, and it is always in the location of the country’s capital.
Mr. Scientist was using a map from his encyclopedia to identify each country as he returned it to the puzzle frame. At the beginning, the countries are not identified by name; the puzzle is just worked sensorially, like any other puzzle. But the children soon realize that each piece has a name, and want to know the names of all of the countries. This knowledge serves them well later when they learn more about history or current events, as they can immediately locate the named location, and thus understand better what they are reading.
In this case, Mr. Scientist got out the Europe puzzle map, but never removed a single piece! After getting out the atlas to identify the countries, he became so interested in those maps that he immersed himself in them and forgot about the puzzle! Thus the primary level material can be inspiration for the elementary child, too; the same material can be used in different ways as the child develops. For elementary children, there is another type of map that is used more to learn names of different locations on the map: the pin map. But that is a topic for another post!
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