Montessori Sandpaper Globe: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents


In the fascinating world of early childhood education, Montessori stands out as a method that holistically nurtures the young mind.

Among the plethora of engaging materials in a Montessori classroom, the Sandpaper Globe holds a special place.

This seemingly simple educational tool is, in fact, a treasure trove of learning for little geographers.

If you are a parent looking to immerse your child in the wonders of the world through Montessori principles, this comprehensive guide is your go-to resource.

From understanding what the Sandpaper Globe is, to exploring how to effectively introduce it to young learners, and even making one at home – we’ve got it all covered.

So, let’s embark on this educational journey and discover how this tool can open up the world to your child.

Sandpaper Globe: The Land and Water Globe
Credit: The Montessori Classroom

What is the Sandpaper Globe?

The Sandpaper Globe, also called the Land and Water Globe, or parts of the world sandpaper globe, is a small world globe that is part of the Montessori materials.

It is essentially a sphere with two different textures – the land areas are covered with rough sandpaper, and the water surfaces are painted blue.

The globe is set on a wooden base, allowing it to rotate, much like how the Earth rotates.

The Purpose of the Sandpaper Globe

Its primary purpose is to introduce children to the concept of Earth and its composition of land and water.

It helps children experience through their tactile (or stereognostic) sense the spherical shape of the Earth. 

This is crucial in helping children understand geography and how different parts of the world are connected.

The Sensorial Aspect of the Sandpaper Globe

Montessori education heavily emphasizes sensorial experiences, and the Sandpaper Globe is no exception.

The contrasting textures of the rough sandpaper and the smooth blue surfaces engage the child’s sense of touch.

This tactile engagement is essential in helping the child internalize the concepts of land and water.

The Color Coding of the Sandpaper Globe

The color coding of the Sandpaper Globe is an essential feature that aids in the learning process for children.

Typically, it is color-coded with blue and brown or tan colors.

The blue color is used to represent water bodies such as oceans and seas, while the brown or tan, which is made from sandpaper, represents the landmasses or continents.

This color distinction is not only visually appealing but also helps children easily differentiate between land and water.

Moreover, the rough texture of the sandpaper for landmasses adds a tactile dimension, which is fundamental in Montessori education.

The color coding is consistent with other Montessori materials, ensuring a seamless learning experience as children progress to more advanced geographical materials.

Presenting the Sandpaper Globe to Children

Preparing for the Presentation

Before presenting the Sandpaper Globe, it is essential to ensure that the child’s hands are clean.

This is because clean hands are more sensitive to touch.

Additionally, it is typically presented together with the Continent Globe as well.

Step-by-Step Guide to Presenting the Sandpaper Globe

  1. Invite the child to the table where the Sandpaper Globe is placed.
  2. Show the child how to carry the globe carefully by supporting the base with one hand and holding the top with the other.
  3. Introduce the Sandpaper Globe to the child and explain that it represents what planet Earth looks like from outer space.
  4. Rotate the globe slowly, allowing the child to observe the patterns of sandpaper and blue surfaces as you turn it.
  5. Feel one of the rough parts (representing a continent) and invite the child to do the same. As the child feels it, say, “This is land.”
  6. Repeat the process with another rough section.
  7. Feel one of the smooth parts (representing an ocean) and invite the child to do the same. As the child feels it, say, “This is water.”
  8. Allow the child to explore the globe further, touching and identifying the land and water areas.
  9. Encourage the child to show you “our continent”, the “red continent”, the “cold continent”, the “big continent”, the “small continent”, and so on. 
  10. In order to feel Antarctica you may wish to remove the globe from its stand.

You may want to refer to each of the different continent’s color and size.

Also, it is helpful to present as part of a short three-period lesson with them.

Presenting the Sandpaper Globe
Credit: EC Department GIMS

Extensions and Activities

Once presented and your little one is familiar with the Sandpaper Globe, you can introduce additional activities to reinforce learning.

For instance, you can use sensorial jars filled with dirt and water to help the child relate these elements to the land and water on the globe.

Additionally, you can create a DIY Sandpaper Globe at home, involving the child in the making process.

The Benefits of Using the Sandpaper Globe

The Sandpaper Globe is not just a teaching aid; it is a gateway to understanding the world.

Here are all the different benefits:

Introduction to Geography: The Sandpaper Globe serves as a child’s first introduction to geography. It helps children understand the basic concepts of land and water, and lays the foundation for more advanced geographical concepts such as continents, countries, and oceans.

Sensorial Experience: it is a sensorial material that engages the child’s sense of touch. The contrast between the rough sandpaper (land) and the smooth surface (water) provides a tactile experience that aids in the child’s understanding and retention of these concepts.

Development of Fine Motor Skills: Handling the Sandpaper Globe helps children develop fine motor skills. They learn to carefully hold and rotate the globe, which aids in the development of hand-eye coordination.

Preparation for Reading and Writing: it also prepares children for reading and writing. The movement of the fingers over the rough and smooth surfaces is similar to the movement required for writing, while the visual distinction between land and water aids in symbol recognition, a key reading skill.

Cognitive Development: The Sandpaper Globe aids in cognitive development by encouraging children to observe, question, and understand the world around them. It sparks their curiosity and promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Cultural Awareness: Although the Sandpaper Globe primarily introduces physical geography, it also paves the way for cultural education. As children learn about different land and water forms, they can also begin to explore the diverse cultures, languages, and traditions that exist around the world.


The Montessori Sandpaper Globe is an invaluable tool in introducing young children to the concepts of land and water, and by extension, the world.

Through tactile and visual engagement, children are able to grasp these fundamental concepts which form the basis for further geographical learning.

As a parent, incorporating Montessori materials like the Sandpaper Globe in your child’s learning process can be incredibly beneficial in fostering an understanding and connection with the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What age is appropriate for introducing the Sandpaper Globe?

The Sandpaper Globe is typically introduced to children around the ages of 3 to 4 years as part of the Montessori curriculum.

At this age, children are naturally curious and have the capacity to absorb information through sensory experiences.

The tactile nature of the Sandpaper Globe makes it an excellent tool for engaging young minds and introducing them to basic geographical concepts.

Can I make a Sandpaper Globe at home?

Absolutely! Making a DIY Sandpaper Globe is not only a cost-effective alternative but also a great activity to engage with your child.

You can use a small ball, paint, some glue or tape, and sandpaper to create your own version. 

Paint the ball blue to represent water, and cut out continents from sandpaper to stick onto the ball. 

This activity can also be an excellent way to teach children about the different continents and their locations.

Why is the tactile experience important in learning?

Tactile experiences are crucial in learning because they engage the sense of touch, which is fundamental in children’s learning process.

When children touch and feel objects, they create mental associations that help in better retention and understanding of concepts.

Moreover, tactile experiences can be particularly beneficial for kinesthetic learners who learn best through physical activities.

How does the Sandpaper Globe prepare children for learning geography?

The Sandpaper Globe lays the foundation for learning geography by introducing the basic concepts of land and water.

By feeling the rough and smooth surfaces, children gain an understanding of the physical characteristics of the Earth.

This sensory experience prepares them for more advanced geographical concepts such as continents, countries, and cultures, which can be introduced through maps and other Montessori materials like the Coloured Globe.

What other materials are used in Montessori education?

Montessori education uses a wide range of materials designed to support the child’s learning and development in areas such as sensory perception, practical life skills, mathematics, language, science, and culture.

Some examples of Montessori materials include the Pink Tower, Number Rods, Movable Alphabet, and Practical Life materials such as pouring and scooping activities.

How can I support my child’s learning at home?

Supporting your child’s learning at home involves creating an environment that encourages curiosity and learning. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Provide a variety of educational materials and resources.
  • Engage in meaningful conversations with your child.
  • Encourage them to ask questions and think critically.
  • Create a quiet and comfortable space for them to study.
  • Be supportive and patient, acknowledging their efforts and achievements.

Why is the Sandpaper Globe blue and rough?

The Sandpaper Globe is designed to be visually and tactilely representative of the Earth.

The blue color represents the water bodies, which cover a significant portion of the Earth’s surface.

The rough texture made from sandpaper represents the continents and land masses. 

This combination of color and texture helps children to visually and tactilely distinguish between land and water, which is fundamental in understanding geography.

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