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Learning Geography with the Earth Balloon

James H. Vernon School 3rd graders took a “trip” around the world without leaving their school gymnasium. Through an educational program by Nassau BOCES, students studied the “Animals of Our Continents and Oceans” using a giant inflated balloon of planet Earth as an instructional model.


Presented by Ms. Mary Watros, a naturalist with Nassau BOCES, students learned about different types of maps and scale, the seven continents, land forms and oceans, and animal habitats while studying the outside of the Earth balloon. Ms. Watros introduced some basics of plate tectonics and continental drift while focusing on Madagascar, then had students “swim” across the ocean to explore North and South America. Ms. Watros displayed various photos of animals and landscapes from her travels to such places as Peru and Costa Rica. Students then had the opportunity to go inside the balloon to examine Antarctica and point out Long Island while noticing that the continents were in reverse.  The program, offered annually in the District, supports the 3rd grade social studies framework for geographic reasoning.


“The Earth balloon is a great opportunity for our students to go beyond the classroom to build their geography skills,” said Mr. Joseph Pesqueira, K-12 Supervisor for Social Studies. “Students are engaged and excited about learning with the Earth balloon, making the information at hand more meaningful and memorable.”

class poses with Earth balloon

James H. Vernon School 3rd graders learned geographical concepts through Nassau BOCES Earth Balloon program.

students study maps during Earth balloon program

Naturalist Ms. Mary Watros teaches students about different types of maps.

animals in their habitats are discussed during Earth balloon program students enter the Earth balloon

Students learn about animals in their habitats, left, and then enter the Earth balloon.

students look up inside the Earth balloon  students point to Long Island  

Inside the Earth balloon, students point to various locations, above, and learn more about animals and their habitats, below.

learning about animals while inside Earth balloon