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 began our study of Australia by looking at the animals that live there. A friend of a friend sent us some beautiful photographs he took of Australian animals in the wild, so I made 3-part cards for us to use. [I don’t own the rights to those photos, so unfortunately I can’t share them as a printable for you.]
Whenever we do 3-part cards as a group activity, I have N match the pictures while L matches the words.
In my search for ways to teach about Australian Aboriginal art, I first found these Aboriginal Symbols cards from Simple Living. Creative Learning. After we matched them, we tried using them to tell stories to each other. L loved it!
We also studied some Aboriginal art and learned that when Aboriginal artists began painting on permanent objects like canvases, they used dots to disguise the sacred elements of their stories so that outsiders would not understand them. We decided to make our own hidden meaning dot paintings using Q-tips. When she had finished, I asked Lila to tell me about her painting, and she said, “Shhh! I’m not gonna tell you — it’s a secret!”
The same friend of a friend had also sent us photographs of Australian landmarks, so we used those as 3-part cards before moving on to study our favorite thing in each continent: FOOD!
We couldn’t pass up making some fairy bread, of course: Just spread some butter on bread (you’re supposed to use white, but we used whole grain)…
…pour on some sprinkles…
…and chow down, mate!
Our Instagram friend from Australia sent us TONS of Australian snack foods to try, so we were eating those for about 3 whole weeks. N actually enjoyed Vegemite on toast!
As you can imagine, we read quite a few books about Australia in the three weeks 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 Australia 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:
Australia, by Jean F. Blashfield
New Zealand, by Donna Walsh Shepherd
Papua New Guinea, by Mary Virginia Fox
Solomon Islands, by Judith Diamond
Great Barrier Reef, by Krista Finstad Hanson
Joey: The Story of a Baby Kangaroo, by Hope Ryden
Do You Really Want to Meet a Platypus? by Cari Meister and Daniele Fabbri
Australian Art, by Alex Kuskowski
Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester
Koala Lou, by Mem Fox
Ready to Dream, by Donna Jo Napoli and Elena Furrow
The Thank You Dish, by Trace Palla