Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Continent Bags

Yep, that's right - continent bags! Traditionally, boxes are used, but I opted for bags instead...
I did this for a few reasons: 1) it's easier to store bags than rigid boxes, 2) I really wanted to honor the traditional colors Montessori uses for each continent (see below) and I knew I'd be able to do this with fabric (no chance I'd find colorful and uniform boxes down here), and 3) I knew I'd need more room for the contents than a box can offer.

~UPDATED TO ADD: Several of you have asked a bit more about the bags. They have a drawstring closure and are 12"w x 13"l in size. I didn't use any kind of pattern, I just sort of eyeballed it. I wanted them to be large enough to hold a standard size folder, but I do wish I had made them just a bit bigger. They looked plenty big until I put everything inside of them! And yes, they are hand-stitched (I still don't own a sewing machine). :) I thought about putting an applique of the coordinating continent on the outside of the bags, but I decided against it because I could just imagine the image folding along the natural creases of the bag, thus making it hard to discern its shape. Also, James has memorized the colors for each continent thanks to our extensive use of the continent puzzle map, so it's really not a necessity in our case.

Now I know some of you are wondering, what exactly is a continent box?
A continent box is simply a container filled with information and various items that represent a specific region of the world. There's one box for each of the seven continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia (aka Oceania or Australasia) & Antarctica. Continent boxes are a part of the Montessori geography curriculum and they are a very fun and tactile way for children to learn more about the world. Depending on what's included in the boxes, a multi-sensory experience can be had.

I'm so excited because after months and months of planning, printing, laminating, sewing and collecting, I'm about 98% finished preparing our continent bags. I'm eager to share more about this project with you and I'll do so over the course of several posts. I really want to give you all the details (read: TONS of photos, tips and links for each bag) and there's no way I'd fit it all in one post, so stay tuned!

Oh, and for those of you who'd like to know, here are the traditional Montessori continent colors:
North America - Orange
South America - Pink
Europe - Red
Asia - Yellow
Africa - Green
Australia - Brown
Antarctica - White

You might also these other posts from my Continent Bag Series:
Our Continent Bags - Storage
Our Continent Bags - North America
Our Continent Bags - Asia
Our Continent Bags - Antarctica
Our Continent Bags - Europe
Our Continent Bags - Africa
Our Continent Bags - South America
Our Continent Bags - Australia

~Thank you for your comments!~


Debbie said...

I can't wait to see! I first read about continent boxes earlier this year, and I've looked at several blogs about them. I love geography, so it's something I've really wanted to do. I brought back several items I had in the States, and I've already purchased the boxes. Mine are plain white, because I want to decorate them with art, pictures, and maps for each continent. Your bag idea looks really neat, though, and they're really pretty! I'll eventually write a post about mine, but I still have lots to do and more to collect.

Montessori Beginnings said...

I know I've said this before but you totally rock mama!!!
That is one thing I wish I could have done with L because I know I would have enjoyed putting them together.
Can't wait for your upcoming posts and links. I'm sure I'll end up putting something together for L in the end to go with her work at school!
Hope all is well with you guys and you are enjoying your new house!

Pomegranategrl said...

I love them! They are beautiful!

bedelia said...

I'm really excited to see the contents of these.

Beach Mama said...

What size are the bags? I can't wait to see what goes inside!

Anonymous said...

Love the bags they are so bright! I can't wait to read all about them!

Zonnah said...

can't wait to see what you put in them. I am starting to collect items for mine and love seeing what others put in.

Deborah Stewart said...

What a terrific idea! This would really help you prepare and pull together the best resources for teaching about each country!

Kathy said...

Bags are a great idea. Keeps all the things inside, especially
small items, and they are light
enough to pick up off the shelf,
where a box can be a bit clumsy
or heavy. In my training there
were continent folders (European)
but the little things tend to
fall out! This solves the problem.
I am interested in the size you use.

Olives and Pickles said...

This is a great idea..I am getting ready to make some continent boxes but You changed my mind... I will go for bags...I love the idea of making each bag with the color of each continent that is smart!! Thank you for sharing!! This is why a love internet you can get so many cool ideas!

Andrea said...

I am so excited to see what you have done with these! Thank you for sharing all your amazing activities and projects. I found your blog about a month ago and have read through every post - I've made a long to do list from your ideas. It is amazing how what you do can positively affect so many children.

Jessie, The Education Of Ours said...

Great idea! I started with folders, moved to boxes. They take a ton if space. I love the textures, too.

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you so much for your comments and emails - I've updated the post to answer your questions. :)

Darcey said...

Great idea! I can't wait to see what's inside the bags!

Jill Stanish said...

Your bags are beautiful! And it is an incredible encouragement to know you hand-sewed them. I really enjoy your blog and your ideas.

Anonymous said...

These are lovely! I can't wait to read about what you put in them! I have been working on our continent boxes for about a year, and they still need so much more work. I'm ready for your amazing inspirational ideas! : )

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

How interesting! I didn't know that Montessori has a color associated with each continent. I am looking forward to reading more about the content of your bags later.

Coedith said...

Hi. If you are interested I can share my classification cards of each continents foods. I have them in pdf given to me by a friend who is an AMI guide. (I honestly am not trying to promote my blog on your page I just couldn't find your email to make this private.)
I enjoy your blog and get so many ideas from it I'd love to give back. Just let me know.

Maureensk said...

Cool idea! Thanks so much for explaining what continent boxes are and what the continent colors are! Other bloggers post about these things assuming we all know what they are talking about. I've even read a couple of general Montessori books and so far, none of them have even mentioned continent boxes, though they did mention the continent colors. Is the reason for the colors being specific so that everything is consistently color coded, no matter where or when the Montessori item is bought?

Counting Coconuts said...

You're welcome, Maureen, I'm glad you found that extra bit of information helpful.

You're right about the materials being consistent no matter which store you purchased them from, but I doubt this is WHY they are color coded.

The colors are supposed to represent the region in some way, for example, white for Antarctica is meant to simulate ice/snow.

Color coding is a common theme throughout a Montessori classroom. Subjects are color coded as well, for example, Botany work is green (because the plants are green) and Zoology is red (to represent blood).

I'm not surprised you haven't found information about Continent Boxes in Montessori books. I've read nearly a dozen and I don't recall seeing any specific reference either. For the most part, Continent Boxes are a modern adaptation and they are something you won't necessarily find in ALL Montessori classrooms.

Jen said...

Gorgeous and such a fun way to learn geography! James is one lucky boy to have such a creative and resourceful mommy!

Anonymous said...

Your continent bags are awesome!
Can you tell me a little more about them? Where did you get the items to put in them? DO you have a link showing whats in all the bags?

(Sorry, Im a detailed person)

I totally LOVE them!

Also, is there a link or somewhere I can check out the Montessori Geography?


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