Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Felt Continent Map

I have always wanted a Montessori-style continents puzzle for our classroom, but I can't stomach spending $40 or more on this one item.  After many months of searching for a good deal, I gave up my shopping quest and decided to make it myself.

I am NOT a very crafty person, so this was a big undertaking for me. It's certainly not perfect, but it serves my purpose just fine.

The intention of this activity is to help my children learn the names of the seven continents and where they are positioned in relation to each other.

It only cost me $5. Here's how I did it:
  • Print out outlines of the continents from a website such as Owl & Mouse.  I suggest choosing "World 1" at the 4x4 size. I started off trying to do each continent individually and ran into some trouble with the continents not being equally proportioned.
  • Cut out each continent and pin them to a sheet of felt. You could also use iron-on transfer paper. 
  • I purchased the felt for 29 cents a sheet at Michael's (they are running a coupon right now for 25% off your entire order, including sale items, expires July 23)
  • I choose to follow the Montessori color-coding system for continents, so I bought seven different sheets in the appropriate colors (orange, brown, pink, green, red, yellow, white). Be aware that one yellow sheet is slightly too small to capture all of Asia. I pieced some of the scraps together to complete the continent. In hindsight, I wish I had just left it cut off, though.
  • Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the shape of the continents out of the felt. I was worried about precision, but it really wasn't difficult. Actually, the hard part is deciding how detailed to be and how to deal with islands and such. 
  • I printed out labels from Free Montessori for Everyone, laminated them, and hot glue-gunned them to little pieces of felt (using the Montessori color coding system).
  • I created a felt board by hot gluing a big piece of blue felt (about $2 at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft) to a piece of foam board ($2.89 at Target). I can see using this felt board for other projects in the future. 
  • I printed and colored this world map to use as a control of error. The children use it as a guide as they place the felt pieces onto the board.
I introduced this project to the boys this morning, and they've already made huge progress with the intended learning objective (something I've had a hard time getting them to focus on up until now).

Thanks to Maya, Susan, Martianne and Jennie for all your helpful advice on this!! I really appreciate it.


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!! What a great idea to a seriously "wish I could afford the continent maps" problem. Awesome!

  2. Love this idea and the price. Thanks for sharing
    Marcia :)