The Montessori puzzle maps come in different forms, including a map of the world, maps of each continent, and maps of individual countries. Let’s examine the Puzzle Map of the United States.
USA Puzzle Map
Each state, except for Hawaii, has its own piece with a knob. As with other Montessori materials, this knob helps prepare the child’s hand for holding a pencil! It’s called indirect preparation.
The classroom guide will help identify when the child is ready for this larger map, perhaps after practice with the world map or the map of North America. The child might start by taking out only pieces of a certain color, like pink.
Next, after practicing one color, the child might take out two different colors. They’ll eventually work their way up to removing and replacing every single piece, a significant challenge!
The work also incorporates vocabulary building. During the presentation, the guide may isolate the home state of the child or school. For example, “This is South Dakota, where we live. What’s the name of this state?”
Puzzle Maps are a great material for the child to learn new vocabulary while practicing spatial awareness. Montessori believed strongly in a ‘global education’ to help young children develop an understanding of the connectedness of people around the world. This geography work is a step towards that understanding!
The Thermic Tablets are a fascinating material from the Sensorial area of the classroom that are designed to help a child refine their haptic or thermal sense.