For each continent, we have a Montessori continent box full of small cultural objects, money, photos, and pamphlets from the continent. When we were beginning this unit, I asked my Instagram followers from all over the world if they would be interested in sending us things — and so many said yes! That is where the majority of our cultural items are from, but you can also purchase the contents for your Montessori continent box if you don’t have those personal connections — check here and here.
We first studied Europe as a whole continent before breaking it up into different countries. We used three-part cards of animals for each of our continent studies — I like these ones of European animals from Imagine Our Life. We also used our Children of the World Cards from Tanglewood Hollow to look at what people who live in Europe might look like. Another great resource is the Europe Unit Geography & Culture Printable Pack and the Europe Unit Language Printable Pack, both by Every Star is Different. We used those printables to learn about the flags of the countries, art and artists, and historical sites in Europe.
Once we had studied Europe as a whole, we began diving into some of the different countries. We did not go in-depth with every country in Europe, but mainly stuck to those whose residents had sent us something for our continent box or those with which I had personal tourist experience.
We spent about a week in Austria and Germany since my sister lived there for a few years teaching English. She came over for a visit and taught us some words in German for types of clothing.
I made 3-part cards of “die Kleidung” (clothing), which you can find as a free printable HERE.
The girls also loved tasting German chocolate, which I found at Aldi. While my sister was visiting, she taught us how to cook Kaese Spaetzle, Wiener Schnitzel, and Sachertorte! We love eating our way through the continents!
A follower from Poland sent us tons of great Polish items for our continent box, as well as photos of her family there and videos of cultural festivals. My girls really enjoyed watching traditional Polish dancing and folk music like these: Kapela Biesiada – Hej, bystra woda & Zespół Mazowsze “Tańce Podhala”.
Another follower from Spain sent us some delicious Spanish recipes to try — the paella was a hit with all of us!
I had some photos of a trip I took to Great Britain with my mom when I was a child, and the girls loved seeing me at 12 years old and looking at all of the castles there.
I also had some photos of a trip to France when I was about to graduate from college, so we went there next.
In keeping with our “eating our way through Europe” theme, I found some French Food 3-Part Cards as a free printable from Welcome to Mommyhood. After we matched them all, we got to taste all of the ones I could find at Aldi — croissants, baguette, and brie! Mommy tasted some of the wine. 😉
We finished up our Europe study with a week in Scotland, where L was delighted to discover that the national animal is a unicorn! A follower from Scotland sent us a bunch of things for our continent box, including a sample of tartan.
That inspired me to make tartan matching cards — all I did was Google “tartan fabric” and then print the search results twice, cut them out, and present it as a matching work.
As you can imagine, we read quite a few books about Europe in the month and a half we spent studying the continent. I scoured our local library as well as our personal book collection, and these are the books I chose for our Europe study. Please keep in mind that my choices were limited to the books available at our little library, so I couldn’t possibly include everything — but I do recommend all of these ones:
Austria, by R. Conrad Stein
Germany, by Jean F. Blashfield
Ukraine, by Deborah Kent
Children Just Like Me, by DK
Eyewitness Books: Castle, by Christopher Gravett
Fireflies in the Dark, by Susan Goldman Rubin
A Picture Book of Anne Frank, by David A. Adler
The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler’s Sons, told by Ruth Sawyer
England, by Jean F. Blashfield
The Unexplained: Stonehenge, by Sean McDaniel
Spain, by Barbara A. Somervill
Poland, by Will Mara
Marie Curie, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Frau Isa
Alfie Gets in First, by Shirley Hughes
Out and About, by Shirley Hughes
Giving, by Shirley Hughes
The Best Family in the World, by Susana Lopez and Ulises Wendell
The Beautiful Butterfly: A Folktale from Spain, retold by Judy Sierra
France, by Don Nardo
A Picture Book of Louis Braille, by David A. Adler
France ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of France, by Sharon Katz Cooper
Scotland, by Barbara A. Somervill
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse, by Patricia MacLachlan
Mama’s Perfect Present, by Diane Goode
Where’s Our Mama? by Diane Goode
Little Salt Lick and the Sun King, by Jennifer Armstrong
Tam Lin, by Jane Yolen
Nursery Rhymes, by Debi Gliori