The boys accomplished a lot of botany work yesterday! We started with "The Gift of the First Plants" (see yesterday's post) combined with a reading of Genesis 1:1-13. As I mentioned yesterday, Genesis 1:13 propelled us right into the Montessori elementary botany nomenclature work. We will be using the Keys of the Universe biology album as our guide. As Jessica mentions in the album, botany isn't about the nomenclature materials, it's about exploring, dissection, classifying and making connections with real features. So, what better place to start than ripping a plant out of the ground to take a look.
I invited both boys to go find a great big weed to yank out of the ground. Not only did they both find excellent specimens, but you may note they are both missing their two front teeth (not as a result of the weed pulling or they wouldn't be smiling).
With the appropriate starting points in hand, I pulled out the "parts of a plant" wall chart.
We are still diverging from Jessica's album at this point (as we did yesterday) because her album doesn't seem to include nomenclature for the full plant. This could be assumed to be covered in primary, however these materials are at a different level than the primary and include more parts. I wanted to be sure to "start with the whole and move to the parts" as is typical of Montessori across all subjects so we are starting with the "whole plant." Afterwards will step right back into the KotU album.
In addition to the wall chart, we also used a "Parts of the Plant" definitions booklet:
All the while we were comparing the boys' actual plants to the chart and definitions in the booklet. When we got to "fruit" the weeds they were brandishing were lacking so we investigated the yard.
Me Too found an example on our strawberry plant (he also found seeds).
Kal-El found an example on our Taxus (Yew) bushes.
After we were done the boys decided to pull a whole bunch more weeds around the yard (yippee!) to check and see what parts they could find. I also showed them another way they could practice...with the three-part cards. They each took a turn.
Their different ability-levels and personalities led to some variations in card approach. Kal-El lays everything out where he can see it and makes the matches as he finds them starting with any card component. His finished work is always in a bit of disarray.
Me Too needed to match just the labels to the pictures first and then he added the definitions. His work winds up very organized. He tried to make it in the shape of a tree for this work. Some more remedial readers might not be able to handle the definition cards right away. In that case you could just use two part cards and save the definition cards for a later date.
Our nomenclature materials are from ETC Montessori and were $90 uncut, unbound, and unlaminated. For an additional $90 you can have them cut and laminate for you. I cut, bound, and laminated myself. I can tell you it took me 15 hours. I made less than minimum wage I think and there's also the cost of the laminating film I used to take into account. It depends on your budget. Either way it would be far less expensive than the nearly identical set from Montessori R&D which is currently $368. If you have access to the definitions (such as in the Montessori R&D albums) free printable images for most of this material is available at Homemade Montessori. I decided my cost in ink and paper would be similar and THEN I would have to find and type all of the definitions. Homemade Montessori does not provide them due to copyright. The nomenclature materials are also something that could be child made. That could create a long, drawn-out process of getting through the botany work and I wasn't interested in allotting that kind of time. The sooner I introduce this vocabulary, the sooner we can start using it in a meaningful way out in our garden and out in the world. However, we have six years of cycling through this ahead of us and it isn't out of the question at some point.
There are seven "categories" of materials and each category has several charts, booklets, and card sets. I have created a few botany shelves in the school room. Each category of work is stored in a transparent green bin from the dollar store. There are six bins on the shelf in the photo above. The wall charts are on the narrow shelf below.
I put the seventh bin (need one more green one), the leaf, on another shelf. That shelf happens to have all of the contents of the botany leaf cabinet (from primary) now house in a new (cheap) white cabinet. The orange stick for tracing are in the mug next door.
If you are one of my Google Reader subscribers you have two days to transfer your subscriptions to another reader before they close down. I have added "subscribe" buttons for both Bloglovin' and Feedly to the "subscribe" tab in my top, right-hand sidebar (since Blogger's "subscribe" widget frustratingly doesn't include them).