My Own Little Piece of the Universe Nesting Boxes

Recently, at a bookstore signing event, I met an energetic and passionate Montessori teacher who shared with me her creative, hands-on Geography tool that also happens to be a perfect companion to my book Light Up the Night.  Please welcome Pauline Meert and her fabulous Universe Nesting Boxes!

I am a Montessori teacher to 20 amazing 3-6 year olds.

In my years of teaching I noticed how hard it can often be for children to understand the differences in the terms – city, state, country, continent and how often they are mixed up.

Within the Montessori materials we have many wonderful lessons we use to teach children these concepts. We use a globe to differentiate the continents. We have maps of each continent with every country of the world, and objects from all over the world. Yet even with these amazing materials, I still found children struggling.

After some time on Pinterest and racking my brain for a hands-on and concrete way to teach this concept, I created nesting boxes that began with the solar system, then to our planet, then the child’s continent, country, state, and city. In the final box I placed a mirror to show who lives in that city. The activity quickly became a hit in the classroom and it helped me teach the correct terminology more easily and concretely.

When I came upon Jean Reidy’s book Light Up the Night, I was blown away! Not only did it follow almost identically the nesting boxes I had made, but it clearly, beautifully, and concretely reinforced the concept of our “own little piece of the universe.” Light Up the Night is now a staple in our classroom and is often read aloud, looked at, and read by the older children. I was very excited to also find so many resources on Jean Reidy’s website to help take our learning even further!


Pauline was born in France and moved to the US with her family in 1999. She always had a great love for working with children. When she was sixteen a priest friend mentioned the word Montessori and the rest is history! She received her international Montessori diploma from Montessori Centre International in 2008. She later came across the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and was deeply moved by the beauty of it all. She also completed her Master’s degree in Montessori education from St. Catherine University in 2014. Pauline has a deep passion for Montessori education and loves to share it with others. When she is not in the classroom or chatting Montessori, she enjoys swing dancing, sewing, reading, and spending her time with friends and family. You can find out more about her work at

Interested in a virtual visit?

Check out my Time Out for Teachers page!