Land, Water, and Air Unit

I’ve never been a planner.

I was always the girl who flew by the seat of her pants. The girl who let plans just fall into place. The girl who didn’t like being strapped down to certain plans in life. The girl who liked her freedom to just be and do whatever, whenever.

And then I met my husband AND had a kid. If you don’t know my husband, he is a planner. He functions on plans and schedules. He went bonkers when we first started dating and realized I was the complete opposite. When I say bonkers, I mean he would get stressed if plans were running late (let’s be real here….plans is code for me) or were changed last minute. It called for some stressful situations, but that seems to be a thing of the past now. Because when Ruby came along, plans and schedules became a HUGE part of our daily lives. Structure is how I function and keep my sanity.

When summer was drawing to a close, I decided to do some planning for the year. Ruby is at the age where she is so curious about everything. She loves fixing things, seeing how something works, figuring things out on her own, and questioning ‘why’ to everything (hello three’s). What better way to fill that brain than with some structured, yet flexible, lesson plans?

I started planning out her first lesson – Land, Water, and Air. First, we bought a globe for $.50 off a rummage sale. It was dusty, dented, and perfect for us to paint and add sand to. We cleaned it off with every intention of starting to paint it right away, and then life happened. And our globe became a centerpiece on our kitchen table. Whoops. Ruby being her curious self asked what it was, why we had it, and what we were going to do with it. I explained it was a globe, that we were looking at the Earth. I told her we were going to paint it and learn some new things about it. She wanted to paint it too, so I let her go to town with her water color paints on it, and told her to stay just on the ‘blue’ parts of the globe. She followed directions, and actually painted this numerous times before I found time to paint it myself. Lazily, when the time came, I decided to just paint over top of her water colors. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT DO THIS! Somewhere in my pregnancy brain it all worked out, but in real life, it didn’t. There are spots on our globe that are a bit discolored due to the blending of the water colors paint and the craft paint. It looks goofy, but it works for us, and did I mention it was super cheap to do?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are two ways you can acquire a sandpaper globe. The first and most time effective way, is to order one online. It will save you countless hours and nights bent over a globe.

The second way is to Do It Yourself. I’m pretty cheap, so I decided this was the best route for us. I began by finding a cheap globe – many rummage sales and Marketplace groups were searched. Ruby and I found our globe, on a whim, at a rummage sale in the middle of the country for $.50. SCORE! Again, it had two dents (which I thought I could punch out, but couldn’t), and needed a good cleaning and paint job.

After we found our globe, we went to the craft store and bought our blue paint. You will want the water to be painted blue. Seems legit, right?

After the water was painted and dried, I bought a bag of Play Sand, found my husband’s wood glue, and began painting the glue onto the land areas. After I had painted a small section of land mass, I would slap some sand on it. Try doing this as evenly as possible, otherwise you may end up with mountainous sections of sand (or uneven areas). When I went back and touched up the glue and sand, I wasn’t careful enough in remaining even, so some areas of our land are a bit more raised than the others.

When everything is dry, put a nice layer of modge podge on it all. This will help secure the sand so you don’t have sandy beach feet after your unit. 😉

Once our globe was complete, I went on Pinterest in search for some lesson plans and additional material. (If you don’t follow us on Pinterest, you can do so here, as I have all of this pinned). Here are the pieces I found and have used:

Sunrise/Sunset Images

Land, Water, and Air Classification Cards

Landform Cards

We first started with the Sunrise/Sunset Images. I printed these out, laminated them, and taped them to a post in our driveway. We spent about two weeks learning cardinal directions. Our sunrise picture was posted to the east of our driveway, and most mornings we would go outside and I would point this out to her. Our sunset picture was posted to the west of our driveway, and again, we would play outside at night and I would point this out to her. After about two weeks, she was able to say both of these on her own. We also focused on north and south when driving or walking, and she was able to learn these directions thru conversation.

Once she was able to understand directions, I set up her Land, Water, and Air shelves.

The globe is used to teach the difference between land and water. We used the three period lesson here. First, I explained to her what each part was. Pointing to the land, “This is land. Feel it with your fingers.” I then demonstrated how to feel the land. Pointing to the water, “This is water. Feel this with your fingers.” Again, I demonstrated this. The land will feel rough under your fingertips, the water will feel smooth. This helps to differentiate between the two. You can then explain the concept of air being above the land and water. Second, I said, “Touch the land,” and “Touch the water.” For the most part she understood this, but there were times where she would get it wrong, so I kept explaining it and demonstrating with her when she would get it wrong.

I hadn’t even made it to the third lesson when she needed to show off her globe to Grandma during her visit. She excitedly ran over to her shelf, pulled down her globe, and said, “Look Grammie, this is land” (as she ran her fingers across the raised sand), “this is water” (again as she ran her fingers over the smooth, blue surface), “this is air” (as she waved her hands over top of her globe”. “Feel Grandma.” She returned her globe to the shelf, carried over her jars (read below), and explained what each jar contained as well. The third period looks a bit different, but is basically the same concept. You normally ask the child/children what each thing is, “What is this?” (as you point to the land, water, air). Once they can name it on their own, they have mastered or learned what you intended for them.

The next item on our shelf was our jars. I filled up three small jars with dirt (for the land), water, and left one empty (for the air). We opened each one, smelled them, felt them, and talked about them. We then used them with our classification cards, setting them at the top of each category and working down from there. She enjoyed the pictures on each of these, and asked many questions about each one (especially the one with the children on it).

The landform cards have not been displayed yet, as I wanted her to be able to grasp this first. I plan on incorporating those with our next lesson, so be sure to check back for more details on our landform cards!

What lessons are you focusing on this week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!