Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rediscovering Asia

Kal-El's interest in Asia has been sparked.  Today he wanted to read about some Asian animals and place them on his puzzle map.

I pulled out our puzzle map of Asia and the control map as well so that I could show him the different places we needed to find in order to place the animals accurately on the map. We promptly got into a lot of trouble.  Two lessons learned:

1.  As mentioned repeatedly in any Montessori book or album, TRY OUT YOUR PRESENTATIONS before you do them with the child.  I was caught off-guard by Kal-El's request and got cocky :)

2.  Be careful when you buy your puzzle maps.  This is actually our SECOND Asia puzzle map.  I won't be buying a third, but I want to.  The good maps will allow Malaysia to be removed as one piece instead of two.  They will also have Indonesia remove as one single piece.

I realized we were in trouble when I wanted to put the orangutan on Borneo or Sumatra.  I realized immediately that the piece for Sumatra didn't remove and Borneo was in more pieces than I expected.  So, I double-checked our control map only to find that Sumatra was not labeled and Borneo had two mysterious arrows pointing to it identifying it as both Brunei and Malaysia.  So, we worked with a few animals and then I told Kal-El that I knew the names of the islands but not the names of the countries and that I wanted to look it all up before we continued.

I wound up having to alter our control map some.

If you look at the Nienhuis control map, you would see that I have drawn some large blobs to group some of the islands so it all makes sense.  What I couldn't change is the fact that our puzzle map (from Adena) is annoyingly inconsistent regarding what constitutes a "puzzle piece" in this region.

Indonesia should remove all as one piece. Instead, some portions don't lift at all and oddly they have chosen three spots to lift out as pieces in that area.  There is a piece that constitutes the western portion of the island of New Guinea. That area contains two of Indonesia's 33 provinces.  They have taken countless islands south of the island of Borneo and made them into one piece that looks like a big island that doesn't actually exist and labeled it "Timor-Leste" which is to my understanding NOT one of the provinces of Indonesia, but rather a country located on the eastern portion of one of the large islands in the clump that they turned into the non-existent blob they made a puzzle piece.  The Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo also lifts out.  Which is odd in its own right because Borneo is an island that contains three countries (or a portion of them in the case of Malaysia).  But, the puzzle map only divides it into two pieces (Malaysia and Indonesia).  It provides the name "Brunei" floating in the water north of the island with no arrow and there was no line indicating its location and there is not even a different color painted on the puzzle piece (as is the custom when a country is too small to cut the piece) to show its existence.

This whole thing stirred up my confusion regarding Papua New Guinea, Papua, and New Guinea.  All the while (while we were looking at Oceania) I've been wondering what happened to Irian Jaya.  II should have looked it up long ago. It turns out I was confused because the provinces in that area have been renamed as recently as 2007.

I wound up making MYSELF some index cards to keep it all straight.

I also printed some small but ACCURATE maps of the specific areas on my index cards.  I'll glue them to the back.  But now, I have a better map of the Indonesian provinces to refer to when I need to find a specific location for the animals we are learning about.

Not wanting to be caught unprepared AGAIN, I took some time to review the changes that have occurred in the rest of Asia.  I learned all of my geography in the 1980's.  I made sure I knew how to pronounce Azerbaijan and its continental neighbors.  I was also unfamiliar with Bahrain which has been a kingdom since 2002. I found very helpful in providing audio and written pronunciations for these countries.  I even made myself a little pronunciation card.

At any rate, I thought I would share my experiences today so that no one else will be caught off guard by the inaccuracies in their maps.

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  1. Whew! What alot of little places to keep all worked out. I think that geography confuses me and it makes me a little hesitent to teach it! Thanks for posting how you worked it all out!

  2. That has always frustrated me, too. My final map set was a Gonzagarredi set. Ahhh how I loved it. They took the time to work out the way it worked best. (And I loved that the water section could be removed for outline drawing - excellent in Elementary for geo-mapping as opposed to political. It wasn't perfect, but way better than the Montessori Outlet maps I had in their first year of making maps- boy was that a disaster.

  3. Wow! A lot of good information. Still another good reason why I am loving homeschooling, you get to learn along the way too. Good work!! Thank you for sharing.

  4. It never occured to me that the maps would be inaccurate, maybe out-of-date, but not wrong. If you were going to buy a third set of maps, what store would you get them from? I'm considering the KidAdvance maps. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Amy,

    I don't know if "inaccurate" is the right word. Inconsistent might be. One of the main things that make Montessori maps special is that each "country" on each continent is supposed to have its own piece (unless it is too small to allow the piece to be cut). The maps I own break this rule by having more than one piece for certain countries. And, when they break that rule there is no rhyme or reason to what they DO make a piece. It would be one thing if Indonesia was going to come apart in more than one piece, but why they chose the pieces they did and why they didn't choose other.

    The labels on the control map are not incorrect, just poorly placed.

  6. Amy,

    Oops, almost forgot. The kid advance maps are a good price and seem to handle the indonesia/malaysia area properly. Go for it.

    Just don't be surprised when Israel is missing. That piece is too small for the map and Kid advance does not seem to have painted it on.

    I find it slightly disturbing always that Israel is missing from the maps.