Sandpaper Land and Water Study

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Sandpaper Land and Water Forms

As part of our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit, we circled back around and reviewed our land and water lessons.  Educational research indicates that children tend to retain information better when it is presented different ways and using multiple senses.  This is an example of how a Montessori education does just that.  This is a traditional Montessori Activity Sandpaper Land and Water forms.  This sandpaper activity is considered a sensorial activity. explains sensorial works well and will be beneficial for the basis of our sandpaper land and water study:

The purpose and aim of Sensorial work is for the child to acquire clear, conscious, information and to be able to then make classifications in his environment. Montessori believed that sensorial experiences began at birth. Through his senses, the child studies his environment. Through this study, the child then begins to understand his environment. The child, to Montessori, is a “sensorial explorer”.

Through work with the sensorial materials, the child is given the keys to classifying the things around him, which leads to the child making his own experiences in his environment. Through the classification, the child is also offered the first steps in organizing his intelligence, which then leads to his adapting to his environment.

It is not very difficult to make your own sandpaper land and water forms using sandpaper you purchase from a hardware store and foam board from a craft store… I’m not so sure they would be less expensive, but I’m sure your children would have fun making them with you! 

Land and Water 3 Part Cards

These are three part cards that are an extension of the sanpaper land and water forms. I found these free downloads at The Helpful Garden Montessori and they are perfect for this work. I am always amazed and thankful when I realize how many of us are making these materials and willing to give them away!  What an absolute blessing!

Not only are there free 3 part cards online, there are also lessons on how to present the material.  I found the explanation below at Montessori Teachers Collective.

LAND AND WATER FORM CARDS (Lesson Presentation)

Material: One set of cards of ten major geographical land and water forms. Ten land and water models.

Presentation: Invite a small group of children to join you. Have one child layout a mat, then have the children bring over all the land and water forms. The teacher shows the children where the Land and Water Form cards are kept and then brings them to the mat. Review the names and give a brief definition of each model. The teacher holds the cards. Show the children one card and ask a child which form it matches. Child places the card beside the form. Repeat for the other forms. Ask the children to name all the geographical forms they remember by pointing to the cards. Give a three period lesson for all the cards they do not know. Present three at a time, isolated at the bottom of the mat. Continue according to the children’s interest. Replace materials when finished.

Exercise 1 As in presentation, continue until children know all the forms using the cards only. Review cards previously learned.

Exercise 2: Children can draw their own land and water forms. They may label their drawing if appropriate and/or include the flora and fauna.

Purpose: To associate the three dimensional form with the pure concept presented on the card.

Age: 4+ years

Land and Water Definition CardsAnother extension of this work is teaching your children not only the name of the land or water form, but also the proper definition of them.   Again, I found the cards free!  This time from Montessori Materials.  


Material: Outline maps large enough to show major land and water forms. Use one map for each set of forms. Two colored pencils brown or green for land, blue for water.

Presentation: Invite a child to join you. show the child where the outline maps are located. Start with the map of the world. Use one map for each land or water form. Decide which land or water form you are going to look for, i.e. island, and select the appropriate pencil crayon. Say that you are looking for all the major/large examples of islands. Child locates first example. Show how to color it in carefully. Child locates next example and colors it in. Have him point out the other examples which he will color in. Child proceeds for as long as he wishes. When finished, label the map according to its geographical form, i.e. Islands.

Exercise 1: As in presentation, repeat the process for all geographical forms.

Exercise 2: Child may use maps of continents or his own country, as long as he knows the appropriate language.

Purpose: Identifying major land and water forms world-wide.

Age: 4.5-5 years

DIY Land and Water TraysMany families make their own land and water form trays. These are usually plastic and some form of clay. Here is one set from Shannon’s Sharings and they are great!  These are  adding another dimension (water) to this already very tactile work. 

And, believe it or not, there are still more extensions to this one activity! One that I particularly love (and will be doing with the boys) is graham cracker land and water form snacks that Deb Chitwood presented on her website.  Just use food coloring with white icing to make the water and the brown of the graham crackers makes the land. So fun and yummy!  

Edible Land and Water Forms


Well, I hope have enjoyed seeing just one of the many reasons why we chose Montessori as the foundation  for our children’s education.  As they reach middle school and are abstract thinkers, their educational materials tend to be more traditional.  Although, as you see on my homeschool blog, we still lean heavily towards hands-on learning!  

Until next time… 


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Trish Corlew

Founder and Author at Live and Learn Farm
Trish has been married to her best friend, David, for 16 years and they have three sons (aged 13, 12 and 9). Trish is from the coast of North Carolina, but they now live in rural West Tennessee on a 40+ acre farm. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and her homeschool style leans towards a Montessori approach with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. They also own a small business that Trish runs from home. Trish’s family is Messianic and they love studying the Scriptures, learning Hebrew and growing in their faith and walk daily. In her spare time, Trish loves to write, work in their garden and can regularly be found trying to learn something new, modeling that learning is indeed a life-long endeavor!


  1. Hi Trish! I have done a few lessons on Land Forms that you might be interested in…

  2. This is great, Trish! Thanks so much for including my post about the land-and-water-form snacks. I added your post to my Montessori-Inspired Fun with Land and Water Forms at


  1. […] Land and Water Forms 3 Part Cards from the Helpful Garden and are Free.  Here is the post about how we use this activity.   […]

  2. […] and Learn Farm has a sandpaper land and water study with lots of land and water form […]

  3. […] a fabulous round up of what you can do with Land and Water forms. Of course, I have a post about Sandpaper land and water forms too. I highly recommend you get some works that help the children actually study about the land and […]

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