How to explain the continents of the world to a child?

Knowing the planet we live on is an important part of raising a child. In this article we tell you how to explain the continents to him.

Understanding spatial notions is quite complicated for little ones, especially when talking about distant places. So what’s the best way to explain the continents of the world to a child?

Firstly, for the teaching of this subject of geography, children need to be able to make abstractions and orient themselves. This usually happens around the age of 10 or 11. If they are already that age, we can start telling them about the continents with an interesting story. What do you think about this idea?

The history of the continents

When the first maps of America appeared, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the shape of the continents could be distinguished and geographers began to put forward the idea that they had been united in the past. But it wasn’t until 1912 that Alfred Wegener, a German scientist, gave this idea definitive form with his theory of continental drift.

Thanks to her, today, every child knows that the continents move and that they were united at the time when the dinosaurs appeared.

Simply put, the theory says thatthere’s originally had one large original continent, called Pangea, consisting of plates floating on a fluid (magma) and drifting in certain directions. It is on these plates that the continents are located.

Over time, Pangea began to separate and its various plates adopted their current configuration. With this story of the supercontinent, you will already captivate the children!

The names of the continents

Now they need to learn a bit more about it, continent by continent:

  • America : it is made up of South America, Central America and North America. This continent owes its name to the explorer Amerigo Vespuccci.
  • Asia : it is the largest and most populated continent. Its name derives fromAszua word of Assyrian origin meaning “sunrise”.
  • Africa : this is where the first humans apparently settled. Its name comes from a tribe in the north of the continent known as Afri .
  • Europe : it is a small continent, but of great importance in the evolution of Western history. Some scholars associate his name with the Greek word euryswhich means “a vast region”.
  • Oceania : named after the Latin word Oceanusbecause the mainland is divided into many islands in the ocean.
  • Antarctic : this name comes from the Greek antarktiké, which means “in front of the Arctic”. The so-called “white” continent today is a protected and international space.
Starting with a story of Pangea and its separation may pique the interest of children. Then they can be taught the names and meanings of today’s continents.

How to explain the continents to a child

How do you explain the continents to your child with this story? Now that you know the names of each, follow these steps:

  1. Search the Internet for continent maps and print them.
  2. Cut out the figure of each.
  3. Assemble the Supercontinent then simulate its separation.
  4. Give them their current names.

Montessori maps to explain the continents

The Montessori card method is simple and very practical for teaching this subject. To put them together, print the continents, cut out their silhouettes and color each one a different color. Once they are ready, stick them each on a piece of cardboard and put their name on it.

To start the game, unfold a large world map. Then tell the children to place each card on the corresponding continent. It is good to repeat this activity until the little ones can succeed without having doubts.

My school, my city, my country, my continent

Children learn location and spatial orientation by focusing on their experience. They will only understand the concept of distances when they can develop an abstract thought.

An effective method for this, related to the theme of the continents, is to invite them to situate themselves spatially from their school and begin to expand their vision with the use of a map as a medium.

In this way, they will be able to understand that they are in a city, in a country and on a continent, even if they do not see it. Once the children have expanded their vision, you can ask them the following questions:

  • If a child is in a school in New York, what continent are they on?
  • Which continent is closest to where we are now? And which one is the farthest?
  • Which continent would you like to know and why?

Teaching the Continents Using Technology

Technology offers very interesting tools for discovering continents. Moreover, learning in this way will surely be very attractive for children.

There are several apps and programs that can help make teaching kids about continents fun and interactive.


With over 1 million downloads, this app is a great medium for kids to learn. learn more about continents, countries and their capitals. You can download the app for Android and also for iPhone mobiles.

Carmen Stories: detective game

It’s a detective game. You must follow the tracks around the world with Carmen Sandiego, which will allow you to learn more about continents and countries where the adventure takes place. You can download this app from the Play Store.

Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Street View

With the use of these google programs, you can teach kids everything about continents. They can even visit countries, cities and streets to appreciate the details of each place.

Explaining the continents to a child means broadening his vision of the world

Children have a limited view of the world since, for them, only count their experiments and the space which surrounds them. However, when they learn geography, the planet gets bigger and more interesting.

In conclusion, although explaining the subject of continents to a child seems somewhat abstract, you should know that this knowledge will help him to situate himself in time and spaceto understand that there are other distant places and that these have different characteristics from its known space.

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