Dr. Montessori knew the importance of children having a personal and sensorial experience with something as their introduction to new work or concepts. The opportunity to explore with their hands, accompanied by the gift of time for that exploration, creates a position of readiness that supports memory and understanding. While this process is evident throughout our Primary and Elementary classrooms, the Montessori maps reflect this awareness and practice in a beautiful way.

In Primary, children work with puzzle maps. The initial introduction to the work is presented as a puzzle. Children become confident and aware of the relative position, size, and shape of the continents of the world and the countries of those continents. Later, spoken language is added and finally written language is added in the form of labels. Students also have the option of creating or coloring a paper map of the world or country they are studying. Because the 3 to 6-year-old is learning with an absorbent mind, the names, locations, and orientation of the continents and countries are easily learned and remembered.

In Elementary, the child moves to the reasoning mind and wants to understand why countries have these shapes and differences, as well as additional details about the areas. This leads to the knowledge that landforms often create borders, that there are political and cultural differences in adjacent countries, and an awareness of how the geography and resources of an area played a significant role in the settling of that region. The pin maps offer a more abstract look at world geography with the hope of sparking interest while also exploring different areas of the world. The maps have different colored flag pins that are used to mark rivers, other landforms, large cities, and capitals. This process can require extensive research to discover where these pins should be placed and often inspires additional research on an aspect that sparks the interest of the children working on it. This might range from the question, “Just how big is the Sahara Desert?” to “Why did they call Greenland green when it is mostly ice?” The gift of discovery is a powerful element of the Elementary child’s work and this process supports the development of both a growth mindset and the development of a life-long learner – not to mention an understanding of geography.

Liana Oram, Head of School

Puzzle and Pin Maps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to site

Mountain Shadows Montessori School offers AMI programs for students 12 months to 12 years old.

...So, what is AMI?

Association Montessori Internationale

AMI is the organization that is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the integrity of Maria Montessori's legacy. Mountain Shadows and AMI share a mission to support children's natural development and to help them become the transformative force of society.

This comes with a commitment to a standard of excellence, defined by...


Rigorous and extensive training

including the study of child development and a deep understanding of the Montessori materials to assist the teacher in creating the environment necessary for this work.


Three-year age ranges

within each classroom that allow children to work at their own pace and level of development.


Extended work time,

including a three hour uninterrupted work cycle.


Upholding international standards

through expert consultation every three years and regular and ongoing study of pedagogy and practice.

For your child, this means...


Whether it's digging in the dirt or discovering the universe.


Whether it's speaking your mind or learning to speak up.


Whether it's composing a song or coming up with a big idea.


Whether it's for ourselves or for others.


Whether it's work or play.

Critical Thinking

Whether it's studying science or solving a problem.


Whether it's doing your part or doing what's right.


Whether it's planning your day or preparing your own lunch.


Whether it's deciding together or sharing the work.


Whether it's supporting your friends or saving the planet.

This is what Mountain Shadows means for your child.