This homemade geography nesting set is a great way to give kids a hands-on lesson about the world they live in. The visual and tactile design is especially helpful for younger children who don’t fully grasp the idea of cities being within states, countries being within continents, etc. And, as a bonus to teaching your kiddos about their environment, you can also demonstrate how to protect it by using upcycled materials.
For this project you’ll need:
- four or more containers in a range of sizes
- paint and painting supplies
- print-and-stick paper
- Mod Podge (optional)
- small memento (optional)
To begin, collect some used cans and canisters of various sizes. The goal is to find containers that will fit into one another. We used cardboard containers and metal cans that held oatmeal, hot cocoa mix, cranberry sauce and pineapple juice.
The next step is to paint the containers. We went with the same color to keep things uniform (and to spend less money on paint), but you can get creative and employ an ombré effect (use the same hue but different saturation levels) or even paint a rainbow.
To make the labels, you’ll need a sheet of “print-and-stick paper,” which basically is an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sticker. Search online for images of the states, countries and continents you want to include. Copy and paste the images into a blank word processing document, then print out the page using the sticker paper and your regular computer printer.
Cut out each label, then peel off the backing and stick the label onto a container. If you want to ensure long-lasting durability you can go over the stickers with a thin layer of Mod Podge. (Or, you can skip the sticker paper altogether and adhere ordinary paper labels using only Mod Podge.)
Let the Mod Podge dry (if you used it), and you’re all set. The kids will have fun stacking and nesting while they learn all about their world. For an extra special touch, place a memento that symbolizes your hometown inside the smallest container. We chose a figurine of the Space Needle to represent Seattle.
Another great idea is to make several of these sets to keep together, especially if there are places around the world that have special meaning to your kids. To accurately convey the concept of geographic scale, make sure that the “state” containers fit into the “country” containers, the “country” containers fit into the “continent” containers, and so on.
Photo Credits: Stephanie Morgan