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Bringing Montessori to the iPhone and iPad.


Blog: Inside Montessorium

Montessorium partners with Rand McNally Education

Angie Leinen

We’ve partnered with Rand McNally Education on our newest app, Intro to Geography - World Edition, which is now available in the iTunes Store. We’re really excited about this partnership, as it allows us to take the lessons of a one-hundred-year old educational method and combine them with one-hundred-and-fifty-years of map-making expertise. 

Maria Montessori, the Italian physician who pioneered the Montessori method, envisioned that her new type of education would lead to a more expansive understanding of the world around us. More specifically, by helping children develop a geographical appreciation of their world, she conjectured that this new generation of learners would eventually adopt a more inclusive approach to different cultures. 

Stephen Fletcher, the CEO of Rand McNally, says this rather eloquently. "Rand McNally shares Montessorium's mission to promote geographic learning using creative digital tools. Combining geography with educational technology increases students' curiosity about the world around them, and helps instill strong global citizenship.” 

By following the interests of her students on an individual basis, rather than providing overt instructions to everyone, Maria Montessori believed that if children had the opportunity to take learning into their own hands, instead of being told what to do and how to do it, they would invariably chart a new course for civilization. As the world becomes smaller, with jet planes no less than social networks, we believe it becomes increasingly important to expand our understanding of our global community.

Our perspective is, who better to join forces with than Rand McNally, who has been helping open classrooms into the world for generations? We believe this is only the first project in what will be a long-lasting partnership. 

We really hope you enjoy Intro to Geography - World Edition.

A Global Experience, A Shared Reality

Angie Leinen

As a child, I recall hours passed pouring over the pages of the World Book Encyclopedia in search of adventure. From a small town in South Dakota, these books reflected a modernized sense of discovery. I might start with volume P and travel to Peru to experience the grandeur of Machu Picchu. Or to volume F that held both the beaches of Fiji and the Eiffel Tower of France. Each entry bore a map to make clear that despite their proximity on the pages, the distances existed. And, in that distance was difference. I couldn't imagine a trip beyond the oceans, or the Midwest for that matter. The world was so infinitely large.

My daughter, now six, is an explorer as well. With the click of a mouse, these worldly wonders appear on her screen. The Grand Canyon is returned in the same search results as the Serengeti. She's witnessed in real-time the devastation of earthquakes in Nepal and the celebration of soccer fans in Brazil. Where was Nepal? Was it close to Brazil? To my daughter, it didn't seem to matter. The answers are all there and there is so little to be discovered. She assumes a global experience and a shared reality.  And, for her, the world is very small. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I had begun to feel the same way as well until recently.

I returned in August from a gathering of 450 young world citizens. Over 100 countries were represented and at least that many perspectives on the world. Each conversation of introduction began as you would expect, with a stumbling exchange of names through a varied of languages. Soon after, the conversation would shift to place and geography. Where are you from in the States? Is that in east or west Africa? How close is it to China?

Geography provides us with a sort of clarity of context and position. It reflects the tensions that can exist across borders - and shared purpose that can come through proximity. It gives us a specific place and boundary but also higher level affiliations and affinities - east and west, pacific and Atlantic, Scandinavian and subcontinent.

On this trip, I found that distance and direction, country and culture are critical to understanding difference. Now, the task it to provide my daughter with the same sense of how big this world actually is.

Written by Hugh Weber

The World at your fingertips

Angie Leinen

Intro to Geography - World Edition by Montessorium with Rand McNally Education is a brand new app, teaching children the names, locations, and flag of every country in the world. We've got some pretty big aspirations here at Montessorium, and this app helps to achieve one of them: inspiring a love of geography in young children.

 But how exactly, does Intro to Geography - World Edition work? How is it organized, and more importantly, why is it set up this way? We'd love to take a moment to answer these questions, and as always, would love to hear from you if you have any additional questions. We've put a submission form at the bottom of the post for just that reason! So, here we go...

The activities in Intro to Geography - World Edition, like all our apps, are organized based on the work in the Montessori classroom. There's a purpose behind everything, no features are added 'just because', or to infantilize the experience. We could go into that further, but decided it deserved its own special post, coming soon.

When you first open the app and choose a continent, you can work through the first series of 6 activities on the roadmap for free. We chose to utilize in-app purchases in this app to give you and your child a chance to try out the functionality of the app first, before purchasing. That way, you know if it's something you'd like to invest your time and money in. 

Next, place the countries in their appropriate location. The default is 6 countries at a time, but you can personalize your app! Head to the parent settings, found in the compass rose on the world view, and choose how many countries you'd like to work with at one time. If your child is just starting out with geography, perhaps start with sets of 3. Older children might enjoy the challenge of 12 countries at a time! Please note the app does reset completely when you change these settings.

After that, each country is presented individually, giving your child a chance to see the shape and hear the name of each country in the set. This is exactly how new vocabulary is presented in the Montessori classroom as well!

Next, after learning the countries and their names, similar to the 3-period lesson in the Montessori classroom, you will be asked to identify a country by tapping on it. This is deliberate repetition, giving your child feedback and affirmation about the new vocabulary they just learned. 

Each country represents itself through a self-appointed flag, and how beautiful they are! In Intro to Geography - World Edition, you and your child can explore the colors of the world. First, each flag is presented, much in the way the countries are introduced. Then, like in the screenshot above, you're asked to tap on the flag of a country. 

Finally, the 6th activity in the roadmap is coloring the flags, all by yourself! Choose the color you'd like to work with, and if you need a hint, tap on the eye on the left-hand side of the screen to get a peek at what the flag should look like. And what happens after finishing all the flags in the set??

Earn a stamp of achievement! In South America, there are three stamps to earn when working with sets of 6, but other continents have more countries, and therefore more stamps. Guess what! You did it. We really hope you enjoy this new app. We can't wait to hear what you think.