BOTANY ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒณ Feed

Learning About ๐ŸŒฟ Leaves (Botany ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒณ Lesson)

Inspired by nature's gifts of blooming flowers and thickening emerald foliage of trees, we started our Botany unit study, and today, Adrian wished to go outside and collect different leaves and explore them up close. So, "following the child" I had put together a lesson about leaves.  

Leaves help plants make their own food. Within the leaf, there is a green material called chlorophyll, which absorbs sunlight to make a natural sugar that the plant uses for food. This process is called photosynthesis, during which carbon dioxide, which can be toxic in high concentration and poisonous to humans, is used by the plant while oxygen, which is one of the most important elements required to sustain life, is released. Thus, plants and people live in a symbiotic relationship, where trees are indispensable to Earth's air being fresh and clean, and people can commit to preserving forests and planting new ones.

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Eyewitness Plant book (buy here) explains in details "leaving leaves" and its variety, while featuring stunning real-life photographs, offering young readers a unique eyewitness view of fascinating world of plants, including plant's anatomy and growth. 

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The leaf has veins for carrying converted sugar to other parts of the plant. The flat, green part of the leaf is called the blade. The edge of the leaf is called the margin. Leaves are called "sun-catchers" because they "catch" the sun that the plant needs to make food. Evergreen plants do not lose their leaves in the winter, so their leaves need to be tough to survive several years in the wind, sun and rain. Some evergreen leaves have waxy upper surface and downy underside. 
DSC_0001Adrian is using the Due Scope Microscope (buy here) which features three objective lenses: 40x, 100x, and 400x magnifications, and two light sources. To observe a solid item like a leaf, Adrian uses the light source above the stage. Find more details about this Microscope in a "Microscope Study" post here.


DSC_0001Rhododendron evergreen leaf has a waxy upper surface to prevent it from drying out.
DSC_0001A felt-like down on leaf's undersides retains moisture and keep insects away.

Leafs DSC_0111The Trees book (buy her) with its beautiful overlay pages offers further insights about trees, leaves and nature's cycle. 

In the fall, leaves lose their chlorophyll, which allows for other colors in the leaf to show, so that we see yellow, orange, red and even purple leaves. 

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Adrian likes shading over leaves with a chunky beeswax block crayon (buy here), and seeing the veins and the margin of the leaf emerge. (For more on shading over, read here a post "Sandpaper Numbers Extensions: using marbles and shading over".)

To find out which "Botany ๐ŸŒธ Books ๐Ÿ“š we are ๐Ÿ“– Reading" see a post here.

We learned more about leaves and nature's cycle in a post "Learning about โ„๏ธ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ‚Seasons" - read here


Learning about โ„๏ธ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ‚Seasons

I think that the most drastic seasonal change occurs from winter to spring: when nature, rested from its natural respite, awakens in all its glory to start the cycle of life once again.

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To learn about the season's cycle, we started with a Four Seasons Book set (buy here), where each of the books describes the characteristics of one season. Spectacular images of children, plants, and animals in all seasons combine with simple text to demonstrate how seasonal changes affect all life on Earth.

โ€œIt is Winter. It is cold. The days are short.โ€
โ€œIt is Spring. It is getting warmer. The days are getting longer.โ€
โ€œIt is Summer. It is hot. School is out.โ€
โ€œIt is Fall. It is getting colder. The days are getting shorter.โ€

DSC_0066We then talked about the Earth being tilted on its axis, and how the seasons are caused by such tilt as the Earth travels in a loop around the Sun each year. Summer happens in the hemisphere tilted towards the Sun, and winter happens in the hemisphere tilted away from the Sun.
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We also read Watching the Seasons book (buy here), which offers a perfect way to introduce the cycle of the year as a whole. The book, with its simple text and relevant vocabulary, familiarizes young readers with the basic environmental characteristics of each season in sequence. 


DSC_0066This Earth (buy here) is part of the Solar System set, handmade to order from wool & organic cotton. 

DSC_0109"The sun opens the buds and tiny leaves uncurl." 

Adrian loves My First Discoveries series Trees book (buy here), which gracefully explains how nature's cycle works.

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"In spring, chestnut trees blossom. The flowers grow into chestnuts."

Through these beautiful overlay pages, a child can see a little seed grow into a mighty tree. A tree flowers every year, bearing seeds, which will fall to the ground, to grow slowly into more trees.  

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Woods and Forest book (buy here) is another great book for the same series, which will teach a young reader about nature, seasons, woods and forests. Deciduous trees grow leaves, which wither and fall off in the autumn. Evergreen trees have needles. See how forests change with the seasons ...

DSC_0116In spring, the leaves appear and the branches grow. In summer, the woodland foliage is dense and green.

DSC_0116In autumn, the trees change color and loose their leaves. In winter, the trees are bare, except for the evergreens.

The Woods and Forest book (buy here) tells a beautiful story about nature's cycle, and the gracious transformation the trees undergo: from bare elegant branches in a winter, to emerald green shoots in a spring, to bright forest-green hats in the summer, to golden crimson red in the autumn. 

To make nature, seasons, and weather observation more hands on, we decided to get a perpetual Montessori calendar, where children can actively learn about the concept of time, by monitoring days, weeks, weather, seasons, and even the moon phases.

DSC_0123Perpetual Calendar & Weather Chart (buy here).

This artisan perpetual calendar is crafted by hand from solid hardwood maple. It is a great tool to bring attention to the purpose of the day and upcoming events and to teach children about weather conditions and cycles of the moon. I am loving the "Waldorf Colored Days" option, which follows the specific colors Waldorf homeschooling families assign for each day.

DSC_0123How beautiful are these seasonal watercolor painted coins!

By understanding nature's cycle and why seasons change and through daily monitoring of the passage of time, I hope my children can feel closer to nature, appreciating its cycle and all the beauty each season brings.

To find out which "Botany ๐ŸŒธ Books ๐Ÿ“š we are ๐Ÿ“– Reading"  - see the post here

For more Botany Lessons, read a post "Learning About ๐Ÿƒ Leaves" here


Botany ๐ŸŒธ Books ๐Ÿ“š we are ๐Ÿ“– Reading

Spring is in full bloom, and we cannot stop admiring all the beauty unfolding in front of our eyes. And discoveries lead to questions: "Where do flowers come from? How do flowers know when to bloom? How do they get their food?  What is pollination?" And so forth. 

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As always, we find our answers in books. Eyewitness Plant book (top-right/buy here) features stunning real-life photographs of flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves, offering young readers a unique eyewitness view of fascinating world of plants, including plant's anatomy and growth. 

DSC_0020Eyewitness Plant book even comes with a Clip Art CD & a comprehensive 22" x 30" wall chart.

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We are also loving Flowers (My First Discoveries) book (bottom-right/buy here), where beautiful transparent overlay pages reveal how buds blossom and flower into fruit, how sunflowers turn to face the sun, and how bees and butterflies settle on spring flowers. 

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A Dandelion: from a flower-bud to a seed.

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Julia found these beautiful mustard flowers during our hike, and she was inspired to draw them.

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DSC_0110In Flowers (My First Discoveries) book (buy here), detailed and instructive illustrations together with clear and simple texts hold childrenโ€™s attention, whilst the overlays on the transparent pages reveal hidden surprises and facilitate understanding. Here, the book's instructions prompted to press a flower between the sheets, and stick it onto book's page once dried. Julia wanted to draw the flower first.
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Happy Spring! What flower or plant books are you reading?

Read here a post "Learning about โ„๏ธ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ‚Seasons" where we were exploring nature's cycle.

For more on leaves identification, read a post "Learning About ๐Ÿƒ Leaves (Botany Lesson)" here .


Earth Day ๐ŸŒ Activities Roundup

โ€œThe land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.โ€  Dr. Montessori.

April 22nd is ๐ŸŒEarth Day! Senator Nekson declared this day a National Holiday so that we can educate our children on the importance of conservation and caring for our environment. There is still so much to be done in terms of reducing pollution, making sure we all live in harmony with every living creature, and conserving our valuable resources.

DSC_0037So, we talked about recycling, upcycling, reusing, reducing, and protecting.

We ๐Ÿ“– read Earth Day inspired books:

DSC_0024See here a post about an inspiring I Cherish Planet Earth Book.

I Cherish Planet Earth  book (buy here) is about appreciating and preserving nature and our planet. It celebrates Earthโ€™s life and beauty in all its glory. The book contains many affirmations, and it is an inspiration to learn about and care for all life, from the tiniest flower to the greatest forest. The book also comes with matching memory game.

DSC_0005See here a post about Earth Day ๐ŸŒ Books ๐Ÿ“š  We are ๐Ÿ“– Reading. 

Since children have little experience, they tend to view the world in the present tense. However, when children study nature hands-on, for example by caring for plants, learning answers to questions like "How long does it take for the flower to bloom?" allows them to expand their perspective to include the past, present, and future. Children can then project the Earth into the future and envision possible "futures" based on where we are now. Finally, as children gain love and an understanding of nature, they can project themselves into the future and consider how their actions would help build the future they dream of most. 

IMG_5920From a flower spike to full blooming orchids!

Read here how Adrian takes care of his orchids in Caring for Orchids (Earth ๐ŸŒ Day Inspired Montessori Practical Life Activity) post. 

DSC_0026-2 Read here more about "Pink Tower - Brown Stairs Extensions."

DSC_0026-2 Earth Day is everyday!

DSC_0183 We also went around our neighborhood and collected litter. 

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Despite global warming, increasing human population and depletion of natural resources, there is so much that have been done already: from conservation legislations to global change of consciousness regarding caring for our planet, to a shift towards renewable sources of energy. "One drop raises the sea" - I tell my children, so one person, one child can make a difference, even if at first it seems insignificant. Any change will have a cumulative effect if many children learn early on to love and cherish and appreciate our home, our Mother Earth, and respect all living things, from the tiniest flower to a massive humpback whale since we are all interconnected - a one big family!

Happy ๐ŸŒEarth Day!


Caring for Orchids (Earth ๐ŸŒ Day Inspired Montessori Practical Life Activity: Care of the Environment)

Caring for the Environment is one of the areas of Montessori Practical Life activities, and it is also one of the affirmations from I Cherish Planet Earth Book (read a post here). Caring for plants is part of caring for the environment, which offers a child a wonderful opportunity to develop responsibility, discipline, and most importantly, affection for nature. 

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"Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants ... Nothing awakens foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the tomorrow, so much as this. When he knows that ... little plants will dry up if he does not water them, he binds together with a new thread of love todayโ€™s passing moments with those of the tomorrow." Montessori M. (1967) The Discovery of the Child. NY: Ballantine Books. pp 71-72.

DSC_0219In our kitchen, children have their own nook where they eat, draw, and do practical life activities (especially ones involving water). We have also allocated few shelves for water-related activities such as window cleaning and taking care of plants.

DSC_0219Adrian is using this Watering Plants Activity and this terry cloth Montessori apron. (The watering can can be purchased separately here).

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Caring for orchids has become Adrian's daily routine. He waters them a little bit every other day and mists them daily. Orchids do not like to "sit" in water, so they need a little bit of water at a time, and as tropical plants, they love humidity, so misting does the trick.

DSC_0282 Adrian was very excited to see the fruit of his labor in the form of a newly grown flower spike.

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Despite vast diversity, most orchid flowers consist of a triangle of three sepals (outer back petals) and three inner petals, where the middle petal termed the labellum (lip) looks quite different as it acts as a landing platform for visiting insects. In most species the labellum is at first located uppermost on the developing flower bud (picture above), but as it matures (on the picture below) the flower stalk twists around so that the labellum ends up being lowermost (upside down) on the open blossom. This process termed resupination is a key characteristic that botanists consider in orchid identification. 

DSC_0178This is Adrian's first "baby" orchid flower! 

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Another distinguishing attribute of orchid flowers is that they are mostly zygomorphic that simply means that if you divide the flower down the middle from top to bottom the structures are identical on both sides like mirror reflections of each other.

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Adrian loves misting the leaves and the flowerets. An emerald mister (buy here) allows a child to hold the mister with one hand while pressing the pump-top with the other for misting and cleaning leaves.

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DSC_0219Adrian uses a blue stick to indicate that the plant was watered.

You can also make signs: "I have been watered" or " I need water" or use color-coded sticks, for example red: "need water" and blue or green: means the plant was watered. 

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DSC_0258Adrian is also growing basil and other herbs.
DSC_0258There is nothing like a taste of fresh basil in a salad.

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While caring for plants, Adrian establishes the connection with nature and develops a true affection for it. Children intuitively want to take care of Mother Earth and all its living things, and they will care more if they have a relationship with nature. And the way to develop such a relationship is for a child to experience the nature fully: by exploring it, by coming in close contact with it, by caring for it. 

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Practical Life activities that are rich with sensory stimulation will engage a child intellectually and emotionally, and will make him/her feel not only connected to, but also an integral part of nature.
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Synergy with our Mother Earth begins when children gain an awareness of the natural world around them through hands-on experiences. Such awareness will then stimulate their curiosity and inspire them to gain knowledge about how nature works. This knowledge then bestows on children the desire and capacity to protect Earth.

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Since children have little experience, they tend to view the world in the present tense. However, when children study nature hands-on for example by caring for plants, learning the answers to questions like "How long does it take for the flower to bloom?" allows them to expand their perspective to include the past, present, and future. Children can see how the evolution of both nature and humanity have resulted in our environment's current state. They can then project the Earth into the future and envision possible "futures" based on where we are now. Finally, as children gain love and an understanding of nature, they can project themselves into the future and consider how their actions would help build the future they dream of most.

Happy ๐ŸŒ Earth Day! What is a better way to show the affection than through care!

Read here a post "Caring for Plants at two-and-a-half."