This week, I’d like to share with you a DIY felt continent map we made to teach our daughter geography-related Chinese words. You’ve probably heard of Montessori continent map before, and maybe you are thinking about to buy one for your little one because it looks so much fun, right?
That’s what I thought until I checked the price online. Depending on the sizes, the price for a felt continent map ranging from $35 – $120 if not more. I wanted to buy a larger size at a minimum of one-meter width so that we can play on the floor. That means I needed to pay more than $100 for it.
Then, I thought, why can’t I make a DIY felt continent map? So I did with the help of my husband and daughter.
It took us a couple of weeks to finish with the bit-and-pieces time we had here and there. But, we had so much fun making this map. What I particularly loved about it was that we involved our daughter in this process from beginning to the end.
We always try to teach our daughter to create toys instead of buying them. Making the felt map was a perfect opportunity to show her how it’s done.
The DIY felt map we made was in size 1000mm x 600mm (or 39 x 24 inches). The cost was AU$28.
If you want to make one yourself just like the one shown in the image at the beginning of this post, read on as I’ll show you step-by-step how we did it.
Step 1. Get the materials you will need to make the felt map.
- Download the map template below. It’s FREE.
2. Buy the following materials:
- 1 x light blue felt sheet ( 1000 x 1000mm, or 39 x 39 inch square).
- 1 x white felt sheet (1000 x 1000mm, or 39 x 39 inch square)
- 7 x felt sheets in 7 different colours ( size: 500 x 500mm, or 19.69 x 19.69inch). You can use the colours shown in the FREE map as a reference, and buy the felt sheets in those colours as close as possible. Alternative, buy the colours you like.
- A bottle of spray adhesive/glue.
Step 2. Prepare the seven paper continent templates.
- Print the map template ( the black and white page in the FREE downloads) in a printing shop in A1 size paper (841 x 594mm, or 33.1 x 23.4 inches). Unless you have a commercial printer at home, most of you will need to print in a shop, which only cost me $4.
- Cut out the seven continents from the A1 paper map you’ve printed by following the outline of each shape.
Step 3. Prepare the seven felt continents.
You will need to prepare two sets. One set of seven is in WHITE, which will be used as the base to be glued on the map. The second set is in 7 different colours, which are the top continents for play. Here is how you do it:
- Use the seven paper templates you’ve prepared in Step 2 to draw the seven continents on the large WHITE felt sheet (the 1000 x 1000mm, or 39 inches sheet).
- Cut the seven WHITE felt continents out by following the outlines of the shapes you’ve drawn.
- Use the paper templates to draw the continents on the seven colours felt sheets – one colour for each continent.
- Once done, they should look like the image below.
- IMPORTANT: if you bought the 500 x 500mm (19.68 x 19.68 inch) light blue felt as per the materials I listed in Step 1, you will need to draw Antarctica on the felt sheet DIAGONALLY like this photo on your right.
- Otherwise, you may find the Antarctica paper template may be too long to fit on the felt sheet if you were to cut it horizontally.
- Of course, if you’ve bought larger than 500mm felt sheet, then you don’t need to worry this.
- Now, your continent map should look like the photo below.
Step 4. Time to put the Montessori-inspired felt continent map together!
- Measure and cut the large BLUE FELT SHEET (1000 x 1000mm, or 39 inches square) to this size: 1000mm x 600mm or 23.62 inches).
- Place the seven WHITE continents on the blue felt base. Make sure you get the position of each continent correctly (refer to the FREE colour map).
- IMPORTANT: Outline the shapes of the WHITE continents on the blue map base lightly using a pencil. This way, you know where to glue the white felt continents on next.
- This step is OPTIONAL if you want to have the left and right sides of the map curved like the one we made, or you can leave it straight. If you want curved sides, then draw and cut the curved lines on either side. Make sure the curved lines are outside of the seven continents.
- Put a WHITE felt continent on a piece of paper for protection and start to spray one felt continent at a time.
- Spray adhesive on the back of the seven WHITE felt continents and glue them on the BLUE MAP BASE by matching the shapes of the pencil outlines you’ve drawn.
- Then you are done!
- Note you don’t glue the seven colours felt continents because your child will need them to play the matching game.
Notice we switched North America and South America to the right? That’s because we made a mistake when gluing the white felt North America onto the blue map base. Instead of sticking it on the left, we stuck it on the right. So we decided to leave it like that because the globe is round anyway.
The map in the FREE downloads, however, looks like the map below.
The North and South America is on the left, which is what you see most of the time. Either way, it works.
Now, you have a DIY felt continent map. You might wonder how you are going to play with it. If you are teaching your child Chinese at home, then you don’t want to miss this blog post: How to introduce Chinese geography words to kids playfully?
I’ve created a set of bilingual worksheets and cards to teach my daughter geography-related Chinese words. This set of resources will cover the Chinese and English names for the world’s seven continents, five oceans, ten landmark buildings, and 35 animals (5 animals for each continent).
I’ve also added the Chinese Pinyin and the English to go with them.
I’ll also make a video to show you how I’d use these learning activities to teach my daughter Chinese at home.
My daughter is in year one at the moment, and her school has started teaching the continents and oceans. It’s a perfect time to show her the Chinese words so that she can co-relate to what’s been learning from school in English.
Anyway, let me know how you are going with making this DIY felt map, Montessori style!
Remember, the DIY felt continent map doesn’t need to be perfect. What’s important is to enjoy the process with your little one. Show your child how to create things from scratch is a lesson itself.
Have you started teaching your child Chinese geography at home? What are the FUN ideas that you use? Please share with us by leaving your comment below or go to our Panda Mama Chinese Facebook community to join the conversation.