Montessori Continent Studies: Antarctica

“Travel stories teach geography; insect stories lead the child into natural science; and so on.  The teacher, in short, can use reading to introduce her pupils to the most varied subjects; and the moment they have been thus started, they can go on to any limit guided by the single passion for reading.”

Maria Montessori

(Updated 2021:  Be sure to check out more of our favorite books, sorted by category, over at our shop.)

Hi, everyone!  Welcome to our Montessori Continent Studies!  We recently spent some time on a mini Animals in Winter Unit Study that focused specifically on animals that migrate, hibernate, or adapt during this chilly season.  We’ve also been transitioning from the concrete land and water Geography works I mentioned in our last Geography post to Continent Studies, and we have decided to do our first deep dive on the cold, icy continent of Antarctica.

We are currently beginning our Introduction to the Biomes and Antarctica is a great continent for us to get our feet wet in this type of work.  The polar regions of Antarctica comprise the sole biome for this continent, unlike the other six continents, which consist of several biomes each.  Our children are also very interested in marine life right now, so this unit study has been the bee’s knees for us.

Reference Books:

  • The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth – Great reference book with beautiful illustrations and it’s organized by continent.  You get an intro to ecosystems before learning about characteristics of, benefits of, and threats to each ecosystem.  Wraps up with some info about cycles in nature and human impact. Great resource for continent and biome work.
  • Atlas of Animal Adventures – We gather around and enjoy this large resource as a family.  The illustrations are attractive and very playful, and it visits several key locations on each continent for a diverse learning experience.  Captivating for animal lovers.
  • Maps – There’s a lot going on in this book!  Each page is crammed full of illustration, labeling, and some short descriptions.  You’ll discover geographical features, plants and animals, and culture as you peruse each continent and its countries.  This is a great resource for sparking ideas and interest in various topics.  
  • Natural World:  A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature – An eclectic assortment of neat nature topics are presented in chart form.  I tend to peruse this every time we explore a new topic and bookmark pertinent pages.  Taxonomy, biodiversity, habitats, life at the ends of the earth, penguins, the blue whale, extraordinary hunters, and ocean layers are great charts to check out for studying Antarctica.
  • Whales:  An Illustrated Celebration – The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful!  The content covers the evolution of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), anatomy, habitat, behavior, human impact, etc.  This is an awesome reference book and the illustrations generate a lot of interest in Antarctic mammals.
  • Montessori Map Work – This board book (not so cleverly placed above) is great for an introduction to the continents.  It includes tracing of each continent and a few native animals.  Our kids love bringing this over to compare when working with their continent and animals puzzle map.
  • Continents & Animals – Board book included with the continent and animals puzzle map.  Great for reinforcing content covered while building the puzzle. 

Picture Books/Living Books:

  • The Blue Whale – We love this picture book!  A great example of the “living books” that the Charlotte Mason approach incorporates.  A young boy tells a story that provides lots of fun facts about the largest living creature on earth.
  • See What a Seal Can Do – This is another excellent living book for us.  It’s a story about a seal that showcases this mammal’s amazing abilities in the water (hunting, adaptation to deep water, etc.), and proves that there’s much more to seals than what you see when they’re lazily sunbathing on the sand or rocks.  The illustrations are soft and sweet, making it a lovable story for all.
  • Penguins and Antarctica – This Magic Tree House Non-Fiction Reader is perfect for us.  Our daughter asks for it every night right now.  It’s written from the perspective of two children, a brother and sister pair, and it’s really informative with some black and white sketches included.  We’re definitely going to explore more of these.

Books on Relevant People:

  • Who Was Ernest Shackleton? – Irish Antarctic Explorer during Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
  • Trial By Ice – A Photobiography of Shackleton’s life and Antarctic expeditions.  Very cool images.  This is great for adults and children.

Activities/Shelf Work:

  • Map Projection Activity from Let’s Learn All About Maps! by The Center for Geography Education in Oregon.
  • Comparison of Continent Globe to Continent Map – This Waseca Biomes Primary Continent Globe is beautiful and more durable than the smaller Land & Water Globe we use with our Land & Water works.
Get a $15 coupon towards your first Waseca Biomes purchase here.
  • Continents & Animals Puzzle – Nice inexpensive version of the Continent Mat Bundle that comes with wooden animal tokens.  We already have Schleich animals and wooden animal tokens, so we opted for this neat puzzle version that covers the same content, but without the extra animals to keep up with.  The continents are even the traditional Montessori continent colors.  One thing to note, the orca is classified and labeled as a whale in these materials and the orca is actually a dolphin.  But for 8 bucks, this is a great puzzle and busting out a sharpie is no biggie.
  • The Continent Song – A daily favorite in our home!
  • Antarctica Biome Cards – Intro to Antarctica’s biome, animals, and people.
  • Antarctica Biome Readers – Readers with more in-depth info from Biome Cards.  These are excellent because they correspond with the sequence of the Waseca Reading Program.  Incredible illustrations.
  • Montessori Antarctica Continent Box – Great for collecting items representative of each continent.  These are great for building up a collection over the years as our geography knowledge increases.  They are also helping us organize our Schleich animal collection.  This is the first thing our son picks up in the morning from off the shelf.
  • Antarctic Animals – Blue whale, Orca, Leopard Seal, and Emperor Penguin.

  • Antarctica Biome Puzzle – Used as a puzzle and for tracing work in biome and continent studies.  
  • Stamping our Passport – Color-coded stamps of each continent will appear in our children’s passport as they make their journey across the globe.
  • Animal Research Field Notes – Biome stamps denote the continent, biome, and class of vertebrate or invertebrate for each animal studied.  We will do as a family with our toddler and early reader.

Coloring Pages:

  • Maps Activity Book – This is such a captivating, quirky resource for coloring and drawing inspiration.  Both the book and this activity book are a lot of fun.
  • Animalium Activity Book – This book has great art activities and incorporates some simple math and sorting.
Our little ones are really enjoying the resources and materials we are using for this Continent Study so far, and they’re genuinely excited about every activity and book.  There’s something that’s just so fascinating about Antarctica and we can’t get enough of it right now!  Special thanks to Trillium Montessori for all the awesome printables we are using in our Montessori Continent Studies.

We hope everyone’s enjoying their time together and exploring some cool topics.  Coming up in the queue, we have a post on our Geography-inspired handwork project, and an updated look at our handwriting/art materials in our Language area, so stay tuned for that.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 
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