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 South America as a whole continent before breaking it up into different regions. We used three-part cards of animals for each of our continent studies — I like the ones from Every Star is Different that can be found in her South America Unit. We also used printables from that unit to study some South American landmarks as well as country and flag cards.
Once we had studied South America as a whole, we began diving into some of the different countries. We did not go in-depth with every country in South America, but mainly to the ones recommended by a friend who had lived there for a while along with some that I thought would be of particular interest to my girls.
We began in the north and learned how to count in Spanish. We examined the Galapagos Islands through books (you can find my list below), because I knew my girls would be fascinated by the many different animals to be found there.
Moving into the central part of South America, we spent a few days looking at the Amazon rainforest!
The girls had a blast putting together this printable puzzle as we learned about the layers of the rainforest. We also explored several books about the wide variety of animal and plant life there. We even tried counting in Portuguese — it’s not easy!
Our friend spent a lot of time in Peru, so we ended up there for about a week. We learned about the ancient Incas and Machu Picchu as well as looking at the animals that live in the Andes mountains and the Atacama Desert. We may have stalked our friend’s Facebook photos to take a virtual tour of Peru!
And of course we ate! We made empanadas (pictured above) and arepas at the suggestion of several of our South American followers. Eating our way through the continents is our favorite way to study them!
As you can imagine, we read quite a few books about South America 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 South America 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:
South America, by Libby Koponen
Cooking the South American Way, by Helga Parnell
Ecuador, by JoAnn Milivojevic
The Galapagos Islands, by Greg Roza
Guyana, by Marion Morrison
Venezuela, by Terri Willis
Suriname, by Carolyn S. Lieberg
Colombia, by Nel Yomtov
Isabella’s Bed, by Alison Lester
Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon, by Sy Montgomery
The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins, by Sandra Markle
The Tapir Scientist, by Sy Montgomery
So Say the Little Monkeys, by Nancy Van Laan
Brazil, by Ann Heinrichs
Uruguay, by Marion Morrison
Bolivia, by Byron Augustin
Peru, by Marion Morrison
The Inca Empire, by Sandra Newman
Machu Picchu, by Elizabeth Mann
Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, by Gary D. Schmidt
Maria Had a Little Llama, by Angela Dominguez
Argentina, by Jean F. Blashfield
Chile, by Michael Burgan
The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan
Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World, by Jacqueline Ogburn