With this stunning glossy Russian birch cabinet, Alison’s Montessori has restored the beauty of Dr. Montessori’s famous Botany Leaf Cabinet with Large Puzzles. In Montessori classrooms, you will find the Leaf-Shape Cabinet that aims to provide children with impressions to describe a variety of shapes and leaves arrangements. In addition to the Leaf-Shape Cabinet, children learn about various parts of a plant using wooden puzzles with knobbed pieces. The use of quality wooden materials guarantees an enhanced sensory input leaving children long-lasting impressions while learning the shapes of leaves, and the parts of a plant.
How to Use the Leaf-Shape Drawers
The Leaf-Shape Drawers contain a total of 12 dark green insets circumscribed in yellow square frames. They represent a variety of common leaf shapes that can be found in nature. Choosing to work with leaf shapes offers children more opportunities to find the corresponding shapes in nature. It also keeps the children’s mind flexible; instead of seeing leaf shapes as an affixed image specific to a tree, they are brought to naturally classify leaves based on characteristics. For instance, leaves can be classified based on the type of margin, the type of apex, the type of venation, or the type of base (toothed margin, lobed margin, blunt apex, large base, elongated leaf with parallel venations, etc.)
Later, the insets can be matched to a series of Botany Leaf Cards for Premium Leaf Cabinet (Premium Quality). Children superimpose the leaves insets on 2-dimensional silhouette cards. Next, they repeat this exercise using thick outlines of the leaf shapes on cards, then thin outlines of the leaf shapes on cards. Demonstrate how to line up the cards horizontally, and how to match the each inset to each card.
How to Use the Parts of a Plant/Leaf/Flower Drawers
Botany is first introduced to young primary children through sensorial impressions. Children as young as 3 are able to deconstruct and reconstruct puzzles that isolate different parts of a plant. No language is required. While selecting a large drawer, children use large motor skills to carefully control their movements and transport a drawer to the working space. The puzzles contain pegs, which promote and further develop the fine motor pincer grip, a necessary component for writing. Children also learn to observe parts of plants that they may not see when observing them outside; for instance the calyx of a flower, or the root of a tree. Yet, using puzzles, they intuitively learn that these parts form a whole.
Once children are familiar with the botany puzzles, they are presented with real life specimens. Introduce the puzzles on different days. Allow time for children to work with a puzzle before introducing another one. To introduce a real specimen and its parts, plan in advance to use a small tree similar to a bonsai or a jade plant, a variety of freshly collected leaves, and fresh flowers such as Lilies. Prepare a few labels with the names of the parts for each puzzle. Examine the specimens with children, and begin to name the parts as you label them on a working space.
Once children have had experience with a real specimen, they can be encouraged to go outside and find similar specimens. Invite children to the Botany Cabinet and show where they can find the puzzle that corresponds to the specimen examined. Leave the labels near the cabinet so that children can practice deconstructing and labeling the parts of a puzzle. They can also use the Moveable Alphabet to write the parts near the puzzle that depict the part spelled out.
Later, introduce Nomenclature Cards that correspond to Parts of a Tree (3-6 or 6-9), Parts of a Leaf (3-6 or 6-9), and Parts of a Flower (3-6 or 6-9). Nomenclature Cards consist of three part cards, a booklet, a control chart, a blackline master, and sometimes a reproducible booklet. You can provide copies of the reproducible materials to 4-6 year old children for coloring and labeling.
This post aims to bring awareness about the importance of introducing the Botany Cabinet to children ages 3-6. Children will use this sensorial experience to translate what they observe in nature. Later, they can expand their knowledge using Nomenclature Cards, which help children organize knowledge and learn specialized vocabulary!
This post has been made possible by Alison’s Montessori who provided me with this amazing cabinet at no cost. This blog hosts unbiased honest reviews of materials from a variety of Montessori materials creators, mostly based in the United States. I enjoy bringing to the front scene the best and most effective materials for children. If you purchase through my Amazon affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. This helps to support this platform and my work.
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