Learning About Land And Water Formations – Montessori Outdoor Explorations

A hands-on approach to teaching Geography has many benefits. Children grasp complex concepts with ease as they emerge into the learning process. We headed with my preschooler to the beach to learn about land and water forms – one of the subjects covered in the Montessori 3-6 curriculum.

Nature is a wonderful and inspirational source of learning opportunities no matter where you choose to explore it. Children are free to learn and discover outdoors at their own pace, which normally requires a great deal of movement.   As you probably know, learning and movement are closely intertwined. We do lots of outdoor explorations with hands-on activities. As Maria Montessori said:  “Nothing should be given to the brain that is not first given to the hand”.

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Living right next to the water gives us a great advantage in using natural resources to learn about the outside world. Simple activities turn into child-driven adventures. Learning about land and water forms on the beach seemed like a fun activity to do as a part of our Montessori Outdoor Weekly Explorations.

Since we’ve spent time learning about the shape of the Earth and the fact that it’s covered with land and water, it was time to start exploring land and water forms.  

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up

You probably noticed, if you watched the video, how precise the language is. I have seen (and have done it in my classroom) teachers adding replica animals to encourage open-ended play with these after the presentation. Also, adding food coloring to the water always adds some extra special elements. There are 10 different forms presented as a part of the 3-5 Montessori curriculum  – lake-island; cape-bay; strait-isthmus; gulf-peninsula; system of lakes – archipelago. In addition to the trays with forms, children also work with 3-part cards to learn to identify land and water forms. We found a beautiful set of free cards on The Helpful Garden Blog with many different choices of fonts.

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Making land and water forms out of the sand was a great experience. I started by presenting Lake and Island, then invited my preschooler to help make these together. Have you noticed that every time you make something with your own hands or involve different senses in the process, it helps you process and retain the information so much better? This was the case with my student. She grasped it learned vocabulary easily, and squealed with excitement every time she had to get water from the ocean to fill in the forms. So here is what we did:

  • Revisited the fact that the Earth is round and covered with water and land,  that water covers a major part of the surface of the planet
  • I pointed out that there are various land and water forms
  • I explained that we are about to find out what some of them look like
  • I made an island out of the sand and said the definition
  • I invited my student to bring some water and fill in the island form
  • Then I glided my hand to feel the island and invited her to do the same
  • It was Miss A’s turn to make a lake.
  • We repeated all the same steps once again, but this time with lake form

After that, we did make a couple more forms, but we will be revisiting them later once again.

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It was great fun and we sure did entertain many people on the beach setting up our activity and demonstrating Montessori homeschool learning in action. Geography is a fascinating subject, so why not make it hands-on and exciting? Children always love building sandcastles and digging in the sand, DIY Land and Water Forms Activity fits perfectly into that category of fun.

You can find among my free printable sets Land and Water Forms Around the World Cards.

Earth Preschool Pack – Continents, Land & Water Forms, 3 Part Cards

All about the Earth learning activity pack for preschool children aged 3-6. The earth-themed activity pack contains printables to create a wide range of hands-on experiences for young children.

earth pack printable

Students will practice phonics, building and recognizing teen numbers, cutting, push pinning, identifying continents, lands, and water forms, widening their vocabulary, learning about characteristics of the earth, developing logical thinking, learning about moon phases and layers of the earth, and so much more.

The printable features realistic clipart and photographs.

Here is what’s included:

  • Instructions and activity variations
  • Phonics – initial sound sorting cards (five cards for each letter, feature photographs)
  • Land and water mats – fine motor activity with building blocks
  • Seasons – sorting cards (six cards for each category, feature photographs)
  • Land, water, air – sorting cards (seven cards for each category, feature photographs)
  • Land and Water Forms – playdough mats and sorting cards (feature clipart and photographs)
  • Land and Water Forms – 3 part cards, definition cards, and student booklet (feature clipart and photographs, backline clipart)
  • Land and water forms included in the printable: lake, island, cape, bay, peninsula, gulf, strait, isthmus, system of lakes, and archipelago.
  • Teen number cards and backline booklet – counting, identifying, and matching quantity and symbols
  • Continents of the world (Montessori color-code) – different styles included – eastern and western hemispheres, different world map styles, outlines and color versions of continent outlines, world maps with labels (including oceans) and without labels
  • Continents of the world 3 part cards and backline booklet
  • Continents of the world – cards for
  • push pinning
  • Continent cutting strips
  • Layers of the Earth chart and playdough mat
  • Storytelling with a visual prompt
  • Phases of the Moon – (southern and northern hemispheres) charts, 3 part cards, student backline booklet


find it on Teachers Pay Teachers

you might enjoy our geography printables

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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