The Arctic: Montessori Activities

Black and white photo of a snow-caped mountain with tall pine trees in the foreground

In a Montessori environment, the study of a continent (for ages 3 to 6) entails introducing activities in Geography, Zoology, Botany, and Culture, to name a few. Today we are going to look at the continents of Arctica and Antarctica. When we think of these continents at both ends of the world, we think of ice and snow. So the very first day or week of activities to introduce to your home school or classroom environment are Sensorial activities and should include ice (and snow if you live near snow in wintertime). FYI: The links on this page were updated on 12/10/2023...

The following are Arctic animals and ice cube and snowflake activities from the My Montessori Journey blog: 

Don't live near the snow? Try this "Make your own Fake sensory snow that feels real" activity.

The second day or week the set of activities to introduce would be Practical Life, like feeding and caring for a pet. We don't have polar bears and penguins in our homes or schools, but you could go to a local zoo or a habitat museum. Upon returning from the trip, talk about the needs of the  Arctic and Antarctic animals: what they looked like, the sounds they made, plus food, shelter, and their habitats.

One mom suggested looking at YouTube clips on your computer. You would want to screen the video clips beforehand.

Third day or week: get books from the library, look through travel magazines, and maybe visit some websites like National Geographic. The books can go in your book corner and be read at storytime. Some books have related activities you can do afterward. Google the name of the book, or do a search on Pinterest, followed by the words 'activities, downloads', and or 'printouts'.

Fourth day or week Geography: Animals of the World lesson. Here are my Animals of the World lesson from my training manual. First, you introduce one animal from each continent. (Then you can start studying a group of animals from one of the continents the next day or week, like the animals from Arctica and Antarctica.)

Animals of the World Lesson

Materials: World puzzle map, animals of the world cards, or toy-sized animals (at least one for each continent).

Colors of continents: North America is orange, South America is pink, Asia is yellow, Africa is green, Europe is red, Australia is brown, and Antarctica is white.

Animals: North American bear, eagle, and buffalo; South American lama and parrot; Asia panda and tiger; Africa: lion and giraffe; Europe wolf and wild bore; Australia kangaroo and Koala; Antarctica penguin.

Introduce the Animals of the World after children have been exposed to land and water forms, globe, and continents if possible at age 2 1/2 to 3.


1. Bring out the World Puzzle Map and take out continents (or you can have a poster-size drawing of the world and the seven continents color-coded; or make continent cards, one continent on each card).

2. Put the continents out in a row on a rug or mat. Check to see if the child remembers the names of the continents.

3. Take out the first animal and match it to the continent it lives in (panda for Asia, for example). Give the name of the animal. Match the next animal, etc. Put animals back and let the child have a turn.

4. You can make a booklet as a control of error, with the continents and the names or pictures of animals that come from each continent. You can also put a dot on the back of the animal or animal card that matches the color of the continent.

You can buy line map "replicards" at  Montessori Services. Click on Card Materials and then on In-Print for Children $$. Choose Geography, then World and Continent "Replicards": Ten

line maps "replicards" show 6 continents, the U.S.A, and the World. "Replicards" (8½" x 11") are photocopied to make worksheets for the child to color after working with the Montessori puzzle maps. These worksheets can also be used in extension exercises, for coloring geological features, continent, country and state names, etc.

More activities of interest: Toddler World Map with Animals

Fifth day or week Zoology: Pictures, here is my lesson from my training manual:

Classified Pictures Lesson

Material: Boxes of flash "teach me cards" or cards with pictures of animals, which you can make with magazine cutouts; or use books from the library and show pictures (of what their natural habitat looks like).

You can also have puppets too, of the animal you are introducing, and do a puppet show giving facts and or a story about that animal. Let the children do puppet shows.

Do one animal a week (ideally).

Classify the order you present the animal (ideally): in week one, introduce the fish, in week two the insect, etc.

Presentation of (Arctic/Antarctic) mammals:

1. "Here is a special group of animals, the mammals."

2. Present the mammal card[s] or book[s]:


These presentations can also be done at Circle. Start each presentation with a concrete experience. Show the child live creatures in the environment (that your presentation is about) if possible, or go on a nature hike. Then bring out the picture cards (or library books). Show just the picture, for instance, a mammal: "Would you like to know what this mammal is called? It's a polar bear."

3. "The mammals take such good care of their babies that they keep them inside of their own bodies until the baby has grown large enough. When the baby is large enough and strong enough inside the mom's tummy it comes out."

4. "The mammal baby still starts as a tiny little egg in the tummy and it grows and grows and grows until it becomes a mouse, a cat, a dog, or an elephant."

5. "When the little mammal comes out, it has fur, its eyes are closed, and it makes little noises similar to its mommy and daddy. Soon it can run and hop around."

6. "It is not like the bird, in that the mommy and daddy do not have to teach it to fly, but still the mommy has to feed the baby. At first, only the mommy can feed the baby. As the baby eats, it gets bigger, but it always stays close to its mommy until it can take care of itself."

Note: Whenever an animal comes into the classroom or home school, don't kill it, just gather it up and let it loose outside.

Indirect Aim: Appreciation of animal life

Direct Aim: Zoology

Sixth day or week arts and crafts:

More arctic activities here:

 ~ Lisa Nolan

Black and white photo of a snow-caped mountain with tall pine trees in the foreground

Photo by Mike Jost

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