DIY Montessori Globes on the Cheap!

Montessori materials are so beautiful, precise, and beaming with science-backed educational quality.  Seriously, I could look at them all day.  If you've done the same, you have likely noticed that they are also very expensive!

DIY Montessori Globes (Left: Continent Globe, Right: Sandpaper Land and Water Globe)
DIY Montessori Globes (Left: Continent Globe, Right: Sandpaper Land and Water Globe)

If you are running a Montessori school or have many children, the cost may be worth investing in for genuine materials.  Or maybe if you have a working homeschool budget much larger than mine.  We however have one child, who will typically only need to be presented and work on a specific lesson before she masters it.  This really adds up.  In fact, most of the time when I try to DIY materials, she has already mastered it just by looking at what I am preparing and we may never use it as intended because she knows it.  Frustrating, right?

The sandpaper/textured globe essentially lets children feel where the land on earth is by touching the rough sand surface that is on the landmasses.  The smooth blue areas are water.  It seems simple for adults because we know how all of this works after years of figuring it out, but when you are 2 or 3 years old, it may not feel so obvious.  

These globes also introduce a child to the fact that our planet is a sphere.  M had a very early grasp of these concepts (she was naming off planets by 13 months and would pretend play planetary orbit as a favorite game by 16 or 17 months, those were the "space days" as I call them).  So the globes weren't as useful as they might be for other kids, that's okay!  In any case, they look amazing in our classroom and will likely be here for years to come.  She still plays with them too looking at the different continents or driving little paths across the landmasses on the sandpaper globe.  Still a win in my book!  These also go so well with our worldly travel theme this coming school year.

child looking at the diy globes made in this post.  child is aged one to 1.5 years since globes were initially made.
These DIY globes are still really fun for M.

Anyways, what you are likely here for is the DIY on how I made these 2 globes.  The process is exactly the same until you begin to paint the land masses.  I will note what to do down in the steps below.

Here are the materials you will need:
  • 2 globes you can find on amazon here.  (Alternatively you can use your own globes that you find, but I had a terrible time finding any, especially 2 of the same size.)
  • Blue acrylic paint like this.  (I got my paints at Walmart though)
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Orange acrylic paint 
  • Pink acrylic paint 
  • Red acrylic paint 
  • Green acrylic paint
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • Fine grain sand
  • School glue and something to spread it with (like a paint brush) and something to squeeze it into (like a small bowl or plate)
  • Paint brushes, water, etc for painting (a larger brush is useful for the water and then smaller tip brushes are necessary to get the tiny areas accurately)
  • A tray to work on (to contain all the sand you'll be pouring)
So, let's get started!  Beginning with the sandpaper water and land globe:

Begin by gathering your materials and getting your blue paint ready to apply.

2 globes on table with acyrlic paint ready to be painted as montessori sandpaper and continent globes
The globes are ready to paint!

Begin applying the blue paint.  Start with the large open bodies of water first, then make your way closer and closer to the land masses.  If you make a mistake, you can still cover it up with the brown (or other color) later, but it may be hard to tell where to paint if the maps are not visible.  So what I am saying is this might not be a good project when you have a toddler bouncing all over you.  Once all the major water sections are painted (probably with at least 2 coats), move in near the land.  Paint all the little tedious areas with your extra steady hand!

DIY Montessori Sandpaper Globe with the water portions of the globe partially painted blue
Painting the water portions of the sandpaper globe.  Note that the continents globe will be painted identically at this stage.

Once the water areas are completely painted, with multiple coats, so it looks really solidly covered, begin painting the landmasses brown (or colored for the continent globe, which I didn't actually get pictures of during the process.  Oops.)

For the continent globe, the different continents are the following colors:


After this step, the continents globe is complete!  Hooray!  For the sandpaper globe, continue on below to step 4.

DIY Montessori Sandpaper Globe with continents painted brown and water blue
The sandpaper globe with the continents painted brown.

Once all the paint is dry for brown the landmasses we begin by attaching the sand to make a rough texture on the land portion.  I began by squeezing school glue into a small cup.  I used a paint brush to carefully apply the glue in a small area (I broke Asia up into 3 or 4 sections).  The glue dries fast, so don't put too much on at once.  Be sure to have your tray underneath your globe.  Take pinches of the sand and drop it right on the glued areas. Continue this process until all your land is covered.  To make the sandy areas very sandy, I applied multiple layers to the point there weren't any gaps.  To do this I let the glued on sand dry and went in for a second, or third, round.

DIY Montessori Sandpaper Globe being covered with the sandy parts
Montessori sandpaper globe getting covered with sand!

Step 5 may be optional, depending on the sand you purchased or found.  The only sand I could find at that time was bright white.  So, I ended up painting over the glued on sand with the brown again to make the final product look more polished.  

DIY Montessori Sandpaper Globe getting the white glued on sand areas painted over with brown so it looks more polished and put together
Covering the sandy areas of the globe with brown paint again for a polished look.

Theoretically you could skip step 3 (painting the landmasses brown), but I found that this made for a nice guide for where to apply the glue.  The print text and what not all over the original globe was really visually distracting, for me anyways.

Now, your globe(s) are complete!  If you enjoyed this DIY tutorial on how to make these Montessori globes on the cheap, let me know in the comments!  If you gave this tutorial a try, and liked it (or didn't) I would love to know.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to be featured on our Instagram with your DIY Montessori globes!

DIY Montessori Sandpaper & Continent Globe Pinterest Link, image for the pinterest post showing the 2 finished globes

What other Montessori materials have you DIY'd?

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