Guatemala Unit Study: Montessori Inspired Foam Map [Geography]

Visualizing the country in a hands-on map is a fun way to learn about what the country looks like and where the cities are in relation to each other. For my oldest is also a fun fine motor skills activity to cut out all the small pieces – she’s getting quite good with her scissor skills too!

First I printed out the outline of Guatemala and we cut it out of foam paper. I like foam paper because it works with my map pins for pinning the cities well and it’s a fun texture for little hands. It also comes in so many fun colors!

You can download the FREE printable HERE.

We looked at maps photos of France and put our pinned our city tags to our map with map-pins.

We talked about the different cities and which ones Mama had been to (Antigua, Guatemala City). My four-year-old loved trying to pronounce the funny names; most likely I didn’t pronounce them correctly either, haha.

Tikal – is the ruin of an ancient city, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Population: ~50,000.

Flores – is in Guatemala’s northern Petén region, and located on an island on Lake Petén Itzá, linked by a causeway to the town of Santa Elena. Flores is a gateway to nearby Mayan ruins, including the national parks of Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo, with its migratory birds, and Tikal, with its towering temples. In Flores, the twin-domed Nuestra Señora de los Remedios cathedral overlooks Parque Central square. Population: ~13,000.

Puerto Barrios – is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras. The bay in which the harbor is located is called Bahia de Amatique. Puerto Barrios is the departmental seat of Izabal department and is the administrative seat of Puerto Barrios municipality. Population: >100,000.

Cobán – is a highland city in Guatemala’s cardamom & coffee growing region. Parque Central square is dominated by the huge, 16th-century Catedral de Santo Domingo, with its whitewashed facade, which was rebuilt after an earthquake. El Calvario Temple is a hilltop church offering panoramic views over the town. Nearby is Las Victorias National Park, a wooded nature reserve with a network of trails. Population: >250,000.

Huehuetenango – is a city and a municipality in the highlands of western Guatemala. It is also the capital of the department of Huehuetenango. Population: >80,000.

Quetzaltenango – is a city in Guatemala’s western highlands. It’s set against a backdrop of volcanoes, including towering Santa María with its active Santiaguito lava dome. The city is known for its neoclassical buildings, including the House of Culture and the restored Municipal Theater. Overlooking Central America Park, Espiritú Santo Cathedral has a baroque colonial façade and a 20th-century interior. Population: >150,000.

Guatemala City – is the capital city of Guatemala. It’s known for its Mayan history, high-altitude location and nearby volcanoes. On central Plaza Mayor, also known as Parque Central, the Metropolitan Cathedral is full of colonial paintings and religious carvings. The National Palace of Culture has a balcony overlooking the square. South of the city, trails lead up to the active Pacaya Volcano. Population: ~2.5 Million.

Antigua – is a beautiful small city surrounded by volcanoes in southern Guatemala. It’s renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, many of them restored following a 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s 200-year reign as Guatemala’s colonial capital. Notable architectural examples include baroque La Merced church. It’s an integral part of the city’s famous Semana Santa, a holy week with parades and rituals. Population: ~50,000.

Puerto San José – is a costal port town along Guatemala’s Pacific Ocean coast, in the department of Escuintla. Population: >20,000.

Palencia – located in central Guatemala, 17 villages call this part of the mountainous country home, and here agricultural field crops are a mainstay. Population: >30,000.

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