Monday, November 25, 2013

Five Kingdoms and Fossils, Going Out

Kal-El planned a "going out" for us to the local natural history museum last week.  In a traditional "going out" the child decides that something they are interested in requires a fieldtrip and then plans the entire fieldtrip including admission and transportation.  Kal-El went ahead and planned all of those details for us.  Granted, it was an easy one to plan.  He decided "Mom would drive" and that our museum pass would take care of the admission. Of course. He also decided that I would buy lunch. The two things he wanted to explore were fossils and the five kingdoms. He made a list of those things as well as a few other old favorites he wanted to visit.  He used a museum map to help plan.

We spent a long time looking at "The Tree of Life."  The museum has a large drawing that shows the five kingdoms laid-out like a tree with each kingdom as one of the main branches.  At home we have tree of life in our Montessori albums as well as Pricilla Spears' Kingdoms of Life Connected.  However, it was neat to see the tree in such large scale.  But even better was that the museum has a large (15 feet tall?) tree of life laid-out  with taxidermy specimens!  The picture will enlarge if you click on it.  

A few notes about Kingdoms of Life Connected.  The Spears book has printables for making your own tree of life, experiments, research questions, etc.,  The purpose of the book is to help Montessori teachers bring their life sciences portions of their albums more up-to-date with current scientific thinking.  However, the purpose of the classification work in the albums is to introduce the child to the basic processes of classification.  The work doesn't have to be perfectly up-to-date to do this.  It will provide them with the appropriate foundation to complete classification work at older ages and apply/understand any changes.

Current classification is focusing more on the "origins" of each organism. There is a lot of "this came first" and "this evolved later."  The phylogenic charts are supposed to reflect that.  The "boxes" that we have been using at home are now considered out of date. However, unlike strictly phylogenic charts the boxes are easily compatible with a Creationist viewpoint.  The tree is also pretty compatible depending on which version you are looking at and if you look at it more like a more beautiful version of the boxes or especially the Chinese boxes.  The KotU albums offer lessons for all of these modes of classification.  I think I remember seeing the Kingdoms charts, the Tree, Chinese Boxes, and Phylogenic charts all in that album.  If you are looking for a lot of hands-on activities, experiments, and research questions for even the Protists and Bacteria the Spears book is a handy supplement.

In the same area as the Tree of Life the museum had kiosks for practicing classification in each of the kingdoms.  The boys did activities at most of those kiosks.

*MY* favorite part of the fossil work that we did was an exhibit that showed about ten different ways that life can be preserved in rock or mineral.  Unfortunately Kal-El had a minor meltdown in that area (said he wasn't interested in those kinds) so I didn't get a picture.  Me Too was in charge of the camera and he took pictures of his favorite fossil specimens throughout the museum.

We also had an opportunity to spend time with a docent who specialized in fossils of all things.  The boys got to handle several real and artificial fossils.  On our way out I let the boys each pick out a fossil at the museum gift shop.  An interesting aside, Kal-El calls the museum gift shop the "Montessori Store" because the first time he visited it turned out we already owned quite a few things they sell and we wished we had just about everything else.  I hadn't thought to buy fossils there but was inspired by this post from Expedition Montessori.


  1. FUN FUN FUN!!!!

    Interesting you mention Spears' book - I have been writing a review of it for the past 2 months officially and unofficially for over a year. Having a hard time getting my thoughts clear. I wish I could just give a 15 word review. Not that anyone is requiring me to write a review, but I feel obligated since it IS a growing-in-prevalence resource for Montessorians - and especially for homeschooling Montessorians.

    Yeah, working on that and the classification material at the same time - both helps and hinders! ;)

    And - what is it with boys and meltdowns at the oddest moments? A mystery of life, I suppose.


    1. I'll be interested in reading that review. As you could probably tell, I wasn't completely sure what to say about it either. But, I felt I couldn't show the tree and not bring it up and once I brought it up I'd better say something about it. I bought it over the summer when I was trying to decide which classification visual to use to replace the Timeline of Life in our version of the second Great Lesson. Actually it was reading the Spears book that lead me *away* from the tree and toward the boxes. However, if I were wanting to do a pro-evolution approach to zoology and botany I would probably use the Spears. As it is, we will not be using a tree the same way she would use the tree. Looking back at it this week I am happy to have the activities on hand for the bacteria and protist kingdoms.

      Kal-El's behavior is generally really great. However, he has one unexplained meltdown everyday when you least expect it. Who knows. It's hard to train him not to do it when he is good the rest of the time and they come with no warning over the oddest things.

    2. When I first read her book, I had this idea in my mind of having a "tree" that has at its trunk "God" - then branches going out from there with the "kinds" (in my mind, kingdoms") - with branches out further from there for each sub-classification. I didn't get anywhere beyond thinking about it though ;)

      Hm. I have some photos from the Creation Museum that might help too......

    3. My review will post on December 12 on the Montessori Trails blog :)

  2. What a great trip! I love that Kal-el planned it himself.
    I must mention that the first picture makes me nostalgic, because I grew up going to that museum as a child. We visited a couple of years ago and enjoyed that exhibit again but my son was too young to fully appreciate the classification that was involved. I think we might have to make time for a visit while we are there over the holidays next month.
    We are falling behind on the classifications because once again there are materials I do not have prepared in time. We have just mainly been looking/reading lots of books on the subject. I'll have to look into the book you mentioned also.
    Thanks for the shout out about the fossil collecting, Im glad you found it helpful.