Tuesday, November 22, 2011

School Day

Today's work began with some drumming and movement activities.

Me Too hit himself in the head with a mallet while drumming on one of our other drums. Kal-El rushed upstairs and came back with his medical bag, dressed as a doctor.

As you can see from the way he put his shirt on, it was too urgent to worry about the finer points of getting dressed.

Today they did a lot of work in the botany area of the classroom. They traced the leaves in the botany cabinet with an orange stick. Later, Kal-El ran outside to round up some leaves off of the lawn to bring in and match.

I spent a couple of hours this week making materials. I don't have to do that very often anymore, but I never finished getting the botany materials out. I made a definitions book of leaf shapes and three sets of three-part cards (here, here, and here). I only put out the book and the most basic set of three-part cards for now. It will probably be a while before I present them. My husband saw me laminating them and ridiculed me by the way. He thinks the leaf materials are ridiculous at any age. FYI, one of the main purposes of the botany cabinet is actually as a writing material (holding the little stick and tracing the intricate shapes).

Always enlightening, this is what my favorite albums (Montessori by Hand) have to say about this:

[The] Geometric cabinet [is] there for the discrimination for shape, direct prep for geometry. Botany has to do with shapes of leaves. The key to leaves in botany. Key to classification. For young child, most striking thing about leaves is their shape. Not what trees they come from, or what they are called. Child is sensitive to the shape. Before showing them anything about leaf shapes, make sure they’ve had a lot of sensorial experience before talking about classification. Preliminary skills/experiences: have seen and cared for plants, washing/dusting leaves, hopefully have spent plenty of open time outdoors, they’ve held, looked at leaves. Introduce leaf rubbing on art shelf. In a casual way, have given them some language attached to this. If on walk, will touch the bark, name, comment on anything they can see. Cabinet is a scientific classification of leaves. Are different schemes for this, varied systems of classification. Don’t need to be too concerned with modern classification used by botanists. This is an indirect preparation for botany.
Keep in mind, this was pulled from the "notes" section of the presentation. They read just like that, notes. This is why there are not always complete sentences here.

Might I add, you couldn't be "concerned with" modern classification if you wanted to...at least if you have the same botany cabinet I have. It has 24 leaves (two of which are the same...why?). About 14 shapes are simple leaf shapes. Another four are different examples of lobes. However, there are more than four types of ways to classify lobing. Not only do the types chosen for the cabinet seem to be totally random (and two are the same type but just point different directions) but the examples of them are not particularly clear. I put the lobed examples in the cabinet because we have primarily trees with lobed leaves in our yard. The remaining six shapes are repeats of the simple leaf shapes in the cabinet BUT with different margins. Again, seemingly chosen from among a greater subset of actual types of margins and not necessarily a clear example of anything. I took that drawer out of the cabinet for now. They could be used later to be matched to the simple leaf shapes to show that leaves can have different margins but identical shapes I suppose.

While Kal-El was out in the nasty weather collecting leaves, Me Too was toasty and dry indoors working with one of the constructive triangle boxes. He matched the shapes he made to shapes in the geometric cabinet and the insets.

In that picture you can also see the tray Kal-El created with his leaves and pieces of the botany cabinet.

You can also see in that picture that I was up to 2 a.m. last night working on some shelving changes in the school room. We needed more room for math materials! We have been in the house over a year now and I know you are all long overdue for an official school room tour. I'm working on it! I want to finish my changes. The room has even undergone more changes since I took these pictures this morning. I'm almost there.

Afterward they took the land and water forms to the kitchen and worked with those. They also pulled the control cards for the land and water forms off the shelf and matched them to the proper forms. I am glad I laminated those. They got wet today.

I have been promising a look at Elementary albums! I know! I wrote the posts and hate them. I have to do a lot of editing. I am also waiting on album samples from one source. I am doing some editing every day and hope to start that series next week now. So sorry!


  1. I love your husband's comment! When I first started Montessori, I totally said what your husband emoted. I didn't have time to mess with botany. There was too much other important stuff. Now, I try to spend extensive time with it.

    Not so much with the classification; it is a pain - you have to make it through all the botany lessons to flowers to do real classification - sigh. When a child connects something from the drawers to the real world, it is magic. They have discovered a pattern from an abstract inset and translated it to the real world! This is a major accomplishment.

    Power is what the botany cabinet is. It names things that don't run away. It names the things we see the most in our outside world. It helps you understand physics and chemistry. It teaches the details of math. It lays the foundation for joyful observation in the world around us.

  2. I don't have a leaf cabinet but I do have some leaf rubbing plates from Oriental Trading company. I guess a downside is that the name the leaves by species but they'd also be great for this tracing exercise.