Seven Continents for Kids: Activities for Learning

Some great geography learning goals for young children include, at the top of the list, a good grasp of the continents. Here’s a fun and easy way to learn about the seven continents for kids. It includes map work, book resources and a fun project. 

Learning about the seven continents for kids. Books, projects and map resources for hands-on learning.

Make a Continent Puzzle

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Take an existing wall map (laminated is best) and trace each continent. Then cut out each piece. If you have a laminator, laminate them.  Place one or two velcro dots  on the back of each piece and corresponding dots onto the wall map.

continent activities for kids: make a continent map puzzle

Kids activities for each continent:

  1. Kids match the continent piece to the wall map and stick it onto the velcro dots.
  2. Look at the continent in the Children’s Picture Atlas. We love this atlas because it does a great job illustrating all the animals that live on each continent. We then used our collection of plastic toy animals and tried to match up as many as we could for each continent.  
  3. Read the Children Just Like Me book.  This book is a bit dated, you can really see it in the 1990’s clothes, but my kids loved learning about what children do in each part of the world. There are photographs of each child’s house, family, friends, toys, favorite foods, school, and more. 

books for learning about the continents

You could do one continent per day or two or three per week, whatever fits into your routine. It took us about two weeks to get through all the continents and then we celebrated with a special project…

How to make Continent Cookies:  Hands-on geography

How to Make Continent Cookies

  1. Take the map pieces from the wall map project above. Give them a good wipe down, as these will serve as your cookie “cutters”.  If you weren’t able to laminate the pieces, but your map is already laminated, you can use that, like we did in our Australia learning unit.
  2. Mix up a basic sugar cookie recipe and give each child a ball of dough to work with, a floured surface, a rolling pin and a dull knife.
  3. Have them roll out the dough and trace around the shape of the continent with the knife.
  4. Transfer to baking tray and bake. You can ice and decorate them, too, when they come out of the oven.

Learning activities for the seven continents: Trace continents in dough and bake continent cookies

We enjoyed some of our cookies along with some tea while we read more library books about some of the kids favorite continents.  

Here’s a great little song to help kids remember the names of the continents.  

Nature Explorers: Painting in the Woods

The pairing of children with nature.  

Because when given the opportunity to experience nature in an unstructured, organic way, children are more likely to carry that experience with them throughout their lives, where they can, in turn, create those experiences for future generations.

Learning with kids in a natural environment. How to gather a group to explore and learn together.

Our group of 5- and 6-year-old explorers and their siblings meet about twice a month to make friends, have fun and explore nature in a very unstructured way.  

The Premise:  Provide a set of tools to the kids, little to no instructions, and let them choose the direction of their play. Watch creativity and learning unfold, and friendships, too. 

This weeks’ tools:  Paint brushes, washable non-toxic paint and large pieces of paper. 

The Place: A wooded area with large boulders.

After a brief safety discussion about climbing on the boulders, we spread the sheets of paper out and showed the children where the washable, non-toxic paint (not harmful to plants or wildlife) and brushes were located.  Some ran to climb the rocks first. Some asked for paint right away. Nearly all the kids painted at some point. Some painted on the paper, some painted on sticks, rocks, boulders, logs, leaves and nuts that had fallen from the trees.  Some painted collaboratively, some painted alone.

The children decided when they had enough of painting and ran off to explore the woods, with a few of the grownups.  They played with sticks and built a tipi, climbed on the rocks, and explored the paths.  Games of pretend play abounded.

We used a large jug of water to wash away the paint on the rocks and ground. The next rain will take care of any traces that are left.  Some children chose to take their paintings home, others seemed content to have enjoyed the process of making something.

Pictured below: Two of our Nature Explorers running through the woods after painting. 

 Rachel Carson Quote

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 Resources

  • Recommended reading:  Rachel Carson’s, The Sense of Wonder
  • Our favorite paint.  Simply Washable Tempera paint from Discount School Supply. We’ve been using this paint for all projects requiring washable paint for the past six years. Click on the photo below to see (awesome) prices.

How to Make a Solar System Model {super easy}

This is an easy and fun way to learn about the solar system. We spend some time on the planets, then the moon and stars, and other notable galactic features, like meteors, comets, satellites, and space travel, to give an introduction to all-things-space for younger kids.

How to make a solar system model. Easy Peasy.

How to Make a Solar System Model

All you need:

  • A package of multi-colored balloons
  • Sharpies
  • String or ribbon
  • Large paper plates (2) for the rings on Saturn and Uranus.

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May I also suggest…

 How to Make a Solar System Model {easy peasy}

We did a few planets each day. My 5-year-old looked at pictures of each planet on the placemat and colored the balloons with Sharpies. Don’t fear the Sharpies with kids. Protect your surfaces, and supervise the kids. PROTECT and SUPERVISE.  That’s my motto for Sharpies with little ones. Besides, regular markers smudge and make a terrible mess. While he was coloring, I read to him from the Usborne Book about each planet (see link above). 

I am not the first to do this project. There are lots of  other ways, like hanging balloons from the ceiling or using embroidery floss and glue.

 
Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Science:  Astronomy on Pinterest.
 

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Learning How to Tell Time

Learning how to tell time comes with practice.  Set up an easy time telling station at kid-eye level. This one is in our kitchen near the stairs. We all walk by it a hundred times a day. It’s been great practice for the kids and an easy way for me to point out times we need to keep track of throughout the day. We are learning how to tell time while we are on the go.

Telling Time Station for learning how to tell time throughout the day 

The clock station can be used in many ways, for all levels of learning how to tell time. Right now, my 5-year-old is learning to tell time by the hour and half-hour while my 8-year-old is learning more precise times.

See the one that says “Screen Time 4:00″? That is the super motivating one in our house right now. 

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What You Will Need

  • Face clock Choose one that is easy to read. I chose this one because it also has the time in 5 to 60 minute increments.

learning how to tell time at home

  • Digital wall clock Battery operated and about the same size as the face clock (these clocks are 10 inches).
  • Moveable teaching clocks. Package of 6. I got these at a local teacher supply store and I wish I could find a link for you, but I haven’t been able to locate one yet. 
  • Laminator  This is optional of course, but this is what makes the moveable teaching clocks have the dry-erase capability so we can work on various times.
  • Circle Punch
    (also optional). I just like the uniform look of a space to write the times underneath the moveable teaching clocks. There are a million uses for the circle punch.
  •  Command Hooks and Strips
    For hanging everything on painted surfaces and not leaving a mark when you remove them. How did we live before Command Strips existed? I truly don’t know. I use these for everything. I used the Velcro Picture Hanging Strips to secure the two big clocks to the wall. Even though they are hung with nails, being at kid level, I thought they may get knocked down so I used the velcro for extra attachment.

learning how to tell time

 

For more hands-on math learning, you may also like:

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Fine Motor Activities ~ Scissor Skills

Preschool and kindergarten work often includes fine motor activities such as scissor skills to strengthen little hands in preparation for writing, manipulating zippers and buttons and so much more. Here’s a fun activity for practicing cutting skills with some really big bang fun at the end.

Fine Motor Activities: Scissor Skills for Preschool and Kindergarten

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When my 5-year-old was getting extremely frustrated with a scissor skills worksheet, I knew we needed to take a step back. Offering him scraps of foam to cut freehand, not having to follow the lines on the worksheet took away the frustration factor.   Foam is very satisfying to cut. He became very intent on cutting the tiniest little pieces, turning the foam and manipulating the scissors. Yes! That’s exactly what I had in mind.

Fine Motor Skills: Working with scissors and foam.

We are using  left-handed scissors . All 3 of my kids are left-handed and when I was working with my middle child on scissor skills, it suddenly dawned on me that maybe her challenge with this activity had to do with using a right-handed scissors with her left hand. My oldest left-handed child actually prefers to use scissors and dribble a ball with his right hand. But once my middle child had a left-handed scissors, her cutting skills were the bomb. 

Left handed scissors for kids.

Once we had a good pile of confetti, we used a funnel to put some inside 3 balloons. We blew up the balloons and then I gave him a pin (with supervision, of course) to pop them. How fun to see this big confetti explosion! Sadly, I did not get a good photo of that but I’m sure you can imagine how delighted he was to do this.

And now I am going to show you an amazing object for cleaning up this big confetti mess, since I often get critical comments on some of my messier kid activities about how MESSY they are (except most of those are not worded so nicely so I delete them). 

Look. It’s called a Vacuum Cleaner. You can buy them on Amazon! I know! Isn’t it awesome? And here is a blurry picture taken with my phone of my child strengthening his gross motor skills by using this amazing invention. Isn’t that great? [end of sarcastic rant]

Don't be afraid of messy learning projects.

Messy Play and Learning Activities: Love Bug vacuuming up confetti NEXT TO our water table which is filled with sand. We are really living on the edge here.

 

For more ideas, messy and not so messy, follow along on Pinterest.

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Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Kindergarten on Pinterest.