Botany – 3-9
Botany study begins early in a Montessori program. Children age 3 to 6 begin to learn about plants through nature walk, literature, practical life and sensorial works. Botany holds a crucial role in the interconnected Montessori program. In effect, plants are primary food producers and source of nourishment for many other living organisms. These autotropic living organisms have the means to produce their own food, and to contribute to the composition of the atmosphere. Dr. Montessori ensured in her program that children will develop appreciation and an educated eye to the subtle differences found in nature.
“The same plants surround the botanist and the ordinary wayfarer, but the botanist sees in every plant those qualities which are classified in his mind, and assigns to each plant its own place in the natural orders, giving it its exact name. It is this capacity for recognizing a plant in a complex order of classification which distinguishes the botanist from the ordinary gardener, and it is exact and scientific language which characterizes the trained observer.” – Dr. Montessori, Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook.
Alison’s Montessori created extensive work on leaves for children at the elementary level. The Leaf Chart and Nomenclature Cards expand children’s repertoire of leaf shapes beyond the ones encountered when working the Botany Cabinet (hastate, peltate, oblong, obcordate, etc.) They now learn shapes such as rhomboid, falcate, flabellate (gingko leaf), or runcinate (dandelion leaf). They also specialize in identifying leaves based on venation, margin, and arrangement. Leaves margins can be lobbed, serrated, notched, toothed, or smooth. Leaves venations can display intricate patterns such as cross-venulate, reticulate, or rotate.
- Leaf Chart – 36″ x 48″, hand drawn graphics representing 47 leaves, 12 margins, and 9 venations.
- Leaves – Shapes, Arrangements, Venations, and Margins Nomenclature Cards (6-9) – 68 sets of sets of 6 part nomenclature cards
- Leaves – Shapes, Arrangements, Venations, and Margins Nomenclature Cards (3-6) – 68 sets of 3 part nomenclature cards
How to Use the Materials
When presented with our Leaf Chart, children discover with awe new shapes, different types of margin, different types of venation, and different leaves arrangement. Using our chart, they can compare leaves to one another and appreciate the diversity of shapes, colors, and texture that plants offer. The Leaf Chart should be used in conjunction with our Leaves – Shapes, Arrangements, Venations, and Margins Nomenclature Cards (6-9) for maximum effectiveness. Children can focus on one leaf component to work on (e.g.: margin). They can organize the knowledge by aligning the picture cards with labels and description cards. They can also assess their knowledge by reading the description cards, which contain a cloze test (blank). The set of Nomenclature Cards contains control cards that can be combined to create booklets. These booklets can be used as reading and learning material, but they can also serve as guides on nature walks.
Prior to presenting the materials, it would be preferable to have a variety of real specimens present on the Chart. You can help children recall the parts, and functions of plants. You could introduce or retell the Story of Plants, and introduce the Leaf Chart. Children can each receive a leaf that they could identify on the chart.
Later, you can introduce the Leaves Nomenclature Cards and relate them to the Leaf Chart. This way, children can see how the material is organized in four categories: shape, margin, venation, and arrangement. They can be invited to work with small parts at a time. The Nomenclature Cards offer many possibilities to work based on the children’s reading level. Description control cards can be match with picture cards and labels for younger elementary learners, while older learner can match picture control cards to labels and cloze test cards. These are just a few examples on how you can use the 6 part Nomenclature Cards.
Finally, there are many ways to utilize the Leaf Chart and Nomenclature Cards. You can take the booklets on a nature walk to identify leaves present in the surroundings. You can have children use playdough to replicate leaves shapes, margins, or venation. You can also have them rub paper with a crayon over a leaf to get an imprint of it, or you can laminate or iron leaves using with parchment paper to press or preserve leaves. Children will enjoy learning new characteristics about leaves and plants. As Dr. Montessori stated, children will observe nature with a trained eye, and therefore; develop the capacity to classify nature. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! This work never goes out of style; we use it and take it outside with us each time we want to want to document our nature walk experience.