Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Geography: Countries and their Flags

Here are my two little geographers, hard at work.  Lately it seems that when these boys aren't doing science, math, or a word study they are doing geography.  They have both been working hard with the puzzle maps.  Me Too mastered the Australia map and has moved on to the South America map.  Kal-El has his fingers in almost all the maps at once.  He has mastered Australia and North America.  He knows about 90% of the Asia map, 80% of South America and Europe, and 70% of the United States.

This week they are interested in flags again.  In the past Kal-El, in particular, had learned a good number of the flags available on our beginner's flag board.  This time he is serious about mastering the whole thing.  The boys spent a lot of their free time on the weekend working with maps and flags.  Kal-El has been dragging the flag map upstairs and into my bed at seven every morning.  He says, "Don't wake up mom.  I'm just going to sit up here next to you and work on my flags."  He has also been bringing the flag board to meals.  The "F" volume of our encyclopedia is getting a lot of use as well.

As is typical of Me Too, he is interested in what Kal-El is interested in but wants "his own project."  He asked me to print him blackline masters of Asian flags again.  I get these from Enchanted Learning.  This year I printed all of the flags for him, not just the ones represented on our beginner's pin map.

My mom sews a patch onto their explorer vests whenever they master all of the countries of a particular continent.  They are super excited to each be receiving some new patches.  Kal-El is getting pretty close to a whole bunch of them.  Also, Kal-El is super-motivated right now because he knows that when he has mastered all of the puzzle maps he will graduate to Montessori elementary pin maps that will have the flags for ALL of the countries, not just a select few.


  1. Hi MBT,
    I was wondering where you found the plastic flags? I have found cloth ones (very expensive), and 3 part cards, but not plastic. Thanks! :)

  2. Sarah,

    Please go to the post I linked to above ( and take a good look at the pin map and what I said about it. You can find it at just about any of the suppliers...

  3. Do you address political issues when you study maps. I know that you are a stickler for telling your kids accurate information, but there are some details of international politics (countries merging, seceding, revolting, renaming after a colonial history, etc) that seem rather difficult to broach at this age, but must be mentioned in order to teach the map accurately. How do you approach that?

    1. KSB,

      No, I don't and I don't think it is necessary to give that information to memorize a map accurately. I get the most up-to-date map I am able to get in the format I need and I teach it as is. Later on if a country merges or is renamed and it is different on a future map we' address it at that time and the explanation is only as complicated as you make it. Plus, it doesn't mean anything when you hear on the news "Country A has now split into two different countries called B and C" if you didn't know Country A existed in in the first place or where it was. We have to start somewhere.

      It is also important that they work with maps that are not ONLY about political boundaries. As we progress in Montessori elementary we will be working with biome maps (I can't WAIT to pull those out) and special maps that highlight rivers and mountain ranges. Our new globe is intentionally a topographical globe instead of a political one.

      Both boys think it is neat that I didn't know where all the Eurasian or African countries were because I emphasize that adults are always learning too. They know that some of the countries used to be bigger countries with one name when I was a kid and now have divided up into smaller countries with more names. They don't even blink an eye. Sometimes too there is disagreement between the flag that came with our kit, our encyclopedia and the most up-to-date internet information. I just say "Oh, it used to be this and now it is this."

      So basically, right now they don't need to know that Texas was once part of Mexico. They just need to know that Texas exists, it's one of the United States, and where it is. And, if someday Texas secedes from the union I'll explain it when it happens and the content of my explanation will be age appropriate. Either way, the Rio Grande is likely to be right in the same place in both circumstances.