Continent Folders? You're thinking, "You mean Continent Boxes, right?"
Nope. I mean Continent Folders.
They actually also go by "Montessori cultural folders" as well. Either name is accurate and neither name fully describes them!
|These were originally going to be our Montessori Continent Boxes.|
Now they are toy boxes.
Ultimately, I went with what I received in Montessori training. Folders. The continent/cultural folders spark discussion, they promote interest... and then we can pull out the objects we have around the environment which the child is surrounded by for further discussion and experiences: books in the reading area, artifacts used as decoration around the environment (also used for polishing, dusting, flower-arranging, etc.), games to play with friends and family, etc. The objects and experiences are throughout life, rather than kept together in one box. The child is surrounded by cultural objects rather than having them boxed up. The child can go into the environment and gather appropriate objects for this study.
LATER UPDATE (just this paragraph) - these materials seem so SIMPLISTIC and many people have told me "no, the cultural/continent boxes are a much better idea because it is all 3-d; some pictures can be added there too." That is your choice. Here are some points to consider to ensure a full Montessori balance/experience:
- are you providing keys? so that your child can explore and have something to discover for his own self?
- do you still have some cultural objects around the environment that your child can discover and say, "Oh! this is the Eiffel Tower from France! We have a picture of this in our Europe culture folder!" And it is something they can polish, clean, draw, etc. thus part of the environment around the child.
- the continent/cultural folders are also intended to incite conversation and story-telling (these are extensions on the album page)
|Image traced on with a print-out of the continent|
or with the world puzzle map pieces
Displayed in an elevated rack
The continent folders then sub-divide into a variety of topics (not photographed here) - these can be smaller packets or pouches, or even a book on the topic (that's what we did - just read books, watched videos, or had real-life experiences with the sub-topics).
This work is found in the Spoken Language section of the AMI Language album.
The continent folders photographed here I had made for training and then used them at home with Legoboy. I was marked down for them because I didn't use all lowercase letters (since these are for such young children - younger Montessori children will write in all lower-case to start, then move to capitals at age 5 and 6, without the use of sandpaper letters). Technically I could have left them unlabeled altogether and not been marked down at all.
Disclaimer though: My son has a hard time "caring" about capital letters anymore (despite starting to write with capital block letters) - so I do not regret having this material available to him with proper capitalization. At least he KNOWS where the capital letters go.
How was this particular set of cultural folders made?
It is a set of file folders - 1 file folder for each continent (in this set) - I chose to keep the tabs all in one place, but could have alternated them (the original plan was that the sub-sets would have tabs in different locations, so the children re-sort them easily based on the tab location). I used packing tape to close up the sides; then covered it in color construction paper (wish I'd used cardstock because construction paper fades) just over the folds. Laminated the whole thing (had to slit the lamination to re-open the pouch).
If I were to do it again, I think I would prefer to use contact paper - only because the contact paper could wrap around the sides more securely. Or use colored pocket folders (now that pink and white are more easily found than when I was in primary training) and laminate those for sturdiness.
I always thought Legoboy would add to these picture sets in elementary - that was/is his typical thing. For some reason, he didn't; instead he delved into cultural studies, loves reading books and watching videos - he can talk to you about different things when he is interested - and he loves to learn about other cultures. But he has never sought to add to the images. Just when I think I have him pegged ;)
Continent folders can be an alternate to the bulkier continent boxes - or can be an addition to them. I highly recommend having multi-cultural items around your home - not just in the boxes. Alternate what is out at various times so that items can rotate into the box and out to the environment. I personally prefer to have an image of someone using the chop-sticks, with a quick description on the back, have a conversation with my child - then he "discovers" we have chopsticks in the kitchen where they would actually be used (instead of as an artifact in the box) - perhaps because I conveniently left them where he would find them (hehe - that's called strewing - homeschool moms get good at that) - and then we pull up a YouTube video to show us how to USE them. It just feels more real to me.
In the end, I see the benefit of both continent boxes and continent folders, and lean towards the cultural/continent folders as my "core" with the boxes as peripheral. Your mileage will vary ;)
Links for additional information on continent/cultural folders:
This continent folder set doesn't quite match what is in my own AMI albums:
Downloadables of animal images - though still not quite the same description:
One sample of using pocket folders - hers gets to it but my training dictated colored background on the cards (could be an optional feature if you have coding somewhere else so the photos can be re-sorted to their proper folders):
This continent folder set looks really neat actually:
And these cultural folders sound about right too: