I am very lucky to work at a school that promotes exploration in the classroom. As some of you may remember, we began an in-depth study of China the other week. Each grade in our school is currently digging deep into a “Social Studies” topic. To introduce our kindergarteners to China, I first wanted to help them understand the world that they live in. In a previous blog post I wrote about how I created a hands-on map for my students following a pattern from the blog Imagine Our Life. (If you have never been there, go check it out!! It’s awesome!)
I also took her suggestion and went to AC Moore and bought 4 tubes of plastic animals and places from https://safariltd.com/. The best part about buying them at AC Moore is that they often have 50% off coupons AND you get your teacher’s discount on top of that! That made this very affordable and so worth it!
At first, my students used the map to practice matching the continents to their places on the map and saying the name of each continent. However, as my students became more familiar with the names of the continents, I started slowly teaching them a little bit about each one. I slowly introduced a place or an animal to my students and added them to the center.
I wish I took a video of my students interacting with this material because their conversations were amazing. On Friday afternoons we get an extended center time and I put out this “work.” A group of my students went over to the activity and took turns placing different animals and places on the map. They talked about the animals, the places, and where they should go. If they got stuck, they used our World Atlas to help them. (They were not always correct in placing the objects but that was ok!)
The most amazing thing was that my students were engaged in the activity for over 35 minutes. The conversations were amazing and they loved it. By creating a hands-on item and pieces for students to explore, they were able to learn so much.
Now I know that some of you might be reading this and think, ‘but I don’t have time to make that map.’ Maybe you are thinking ‘but I don’t know how to sew.’ That is alright! You could very easily print out shapes of the continents and cut and laminate them. Add a blue sheet or a large piece of blue paper and you could very easily replicate this lesson! Buy adding an element of interaction and student lead discovery, your students will learn SO much about the world they live in!
By making these lessons hands-on, it turned what could have been a very mundane lesson, into one of my students’ favorite activities!
I would love to hear from you! What are some hands-on lessons that you have used in your classrooms that were huge hits?! Feel free to comment below or to comment on my Facebook page!