Friday, June 28, 2013

Botany Nomenclature: Parts of a Plant, Elementary-Level

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.

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  1. Did you also do the three part cards in primary? They are in my primary Karen Tyler albums, so I was going to do them. Now I feel like I'm doing it too early. Link is not reading yet, so he is just matching and asks me what the labels say after he has matched.

    1. Mel, These are NOT the same as the primary 3-part cards.

      The primary three part cards are picture, label, and picture + label.
      The elementary three part cards are picture, label, and several-sentence definition. There is also a third type, the nextlevel of elementary cards that have the definition cut into pieces. We aren't doing the third kind yet.

      Also, the primary cards have FEWER features represented. This is true of the botany cards AND the zoology cards. For example, the Karen Tyler primary "parts of a horse" card set teaches nine parts of the horse. The Elementary set not only has definitions instead of a 'control card' (their nomenclature books are their control if needed) but it teaches SEVENTEEN parts of the horse.

      I mentioned this in the post and had the pictures to try to keep it clear for primary folks that these are NOT the same materials, but maybe I should write a post about it.

    2. Ah, ok, I thought maybe we just had different three part cards. I just wanted to make sure you did actually use some at the primary level as well. Thanks!

  2. The fun thing about the nomenclature cards too - differences between primary and elementary - if your child is reading well at primary they CAN get to the definition stages in primary, but the cards are split apart "mid-sentence" so there are some cues for what comes next. In elementary, when longer definitions are cut up, they are cut by phrase, so there are no cues for which pieces come next ;)

    Try keeping all those pieces straight ;)

    (we did some nomenclature in one style and some in the other style - best of both worlds without re-creating just everything).

    And yes - definitely way more detail in elementary! :)

  3. Thanks for sharing.

    Feel free to participate on my giveaway for a $50 gift certficate from Montessori Services?

  4. I'm confused. Are your 3part cards the same as your booklets? Or how are they different

    1. Thee three part cards are the same as the booklets. In primary the three part cards are: picture, label control. In elementary they are label, picture, definition and the booklet serve as the control. In elementary there is yet one more type (increased difficulty) in which each

    2. ...definition card is cut into about three pieces. We haven't done that kind yet. This is kind of the same things I said in my reply to Mel...hopefully I made more sense this time.

    3. I got what you said in the other reply and get the differences between primary and elem. You just hadn't explained your spiral bound booklet and what it was used for. I didn't realize the booklet was a control for the cards. I thought maybe it had more information in it, like a small book on the subject. Is this "authentic" Montessori (the booklet as a control) or did you just make them to provide a control? I'm taking the KotU course and I just hadn't seen a "booklet" mentioned anywhere. Then again I'm still in the beginning so I'm missing loads of info from the albums.

    4. The booklets are authentic (imho). They are not only for control, but also for using seperately. I think it makes the most sense to start with the booklet "Hey, lets read about 'Roots'," and then, the child uses the 3-part cards to practice what they read. Because they've seen the book first they will naturally use it as a control on their cards. Although, on the NAMC Montessori Teacher Training blog they say that the books are used after the cards:

      I double-checked my KotU biology album and the booklets are mentioned on pages 41 and 42.

    5. Great! Thanks for the info. Jessica has been having trouble with files lately. I actually have that section but after the Botany title page (which is pg 38), it skips to page 45. So yeah I don't have the exact pages that discuss the booklets! Thank you thank you thank you!

  5. Thank you for this post. I am currently trying to get Kotu biology up and running and my burning question is this: How close is this material to the Nomenclature list on page 16/17 of our album? I realize the kids can/should make some of these, but I do not mind paying the price is it is a 1-shot and you're done kind of deal.
    Also, if you had it to do over again, would you have just paid to let them laminate and cut? I buy my laminate for $13/ 100 sheets, but I'm trying to guess how many boxes of 100 you went through (plus 15 hours of labor)