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Nurturing Budding Botanists – Learning and Teaching the Basics of Plant Science

Copyright 2011 -2015

by Sara L. Ambarian

http://www.condortales.com/bridestouch.html

Science study can be one of the most fascinating aspects of our children’s schooling, due to the incredible diversity of scientific subjects and the wide variety of hands-on activities which can be related to each. Late spring and summer is a great time to take your scientific endeavors outdoors and take advantage of the vast laboratory of nature. An especially interesting and broad branch of science for summer study in the outdoors is botany.

What is botany?

Botany, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “the bflower_botanist_1ranch of biology that studies plants, their life, structure, growth, classification, etc.” Delving deeper into specifics, the Botanical Society of America http://botany.org/bsa/careers/what_is_botany.php tells us that “plants” have been generally thought to include “a wide range of living organisms from the smallest bacteria to the largest living things ‑ the giant sequoia trees. By this definition plants include: algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants.” However, the Society states that modern scientists theorize that bacteria, algae and fungi are not part of the plant kingdom, though they continue to be studied/taught about within botany classes. For basic botany education, you probably won’t have the resources (or your students the interest) to worry too much about these tiny organisms, one way or another.

What do botanists do?

Like other biology careers, botany is a general discipline that covers many more specific studies and specialties. Someone educated as a botanist might study plant anatomy, plant reproductive biology, ecosystem ecology, paleobotany, plant care/cultivation, botanical education, or any of a wide variety of other specialized fields. They may work indoors or outdoors, in a wide variety of work environments– in a laboratory, in a greenhouse, at a botanic garden, at a museum, for a government agency, for a private company, etc.

For more on what botanists do, where they work, who they work for, etc., see:

http://www.forestinfo.org/discover

(This page also has links to information on some other interesting outdoor careers, as well.)

For an interesting table showing different specialties in the botanical field, see The Botanical Society of America, at:

http://www.botany.org/bsa/careers/bot-spec.html

Also visit The Botanical Society of America’s career page, which has interesting stories from actual professional botanists:

http://www.botany.org/bsa/careers/

Why teach or study botany?

There are many reasons to teach or study botany. Every child has plant materials of some sort available for study, even if it’s only sidewalk weeds, houseplants, or cut flowers and/or vegetables from the grocery store. Plants are intricate organisms which can provide many fascinating study opportunities; but unlike animals, they stay right where you left them. Because of this, plants are easier for young children to examine and identify. Also, you can theoretically observe them over an extended period of time.

Changes in growing plants are generally fairly obvious and easy for even small children to observe and compare. For example, growth from a seedling and other changes in size, development of flower and/or leaf buds, blossom drop and fruit development, and seasonal foliage color changes are all obvious processes anyone paying attention can follow. Older children can delve deeper into botany through more complex subjects like habitat and plant reproduction.

Studying plants also often brings up interesting lessons in the behavior of insects, birds and mammals, since we’re all interdependent on one another.

Getting started.

Don’t feel overwhelmed about trying to teach botany even if you do not know much about the subject yourself. It is a big and complex study, and you are not going to send your students out ready for university research projects. All you should really be aiming for at the start is to get the kids interested by presenting one or two small botanical lessons… and it does not take much preparation to be able to do that.

Below are some simple ideas for botanical explorations. Each of these is a manageable lesson, both for you to teach and for your students to learn. They each also touch on one aspect of botanical study which could inspire your students to pursue additional information and other lessons, of your or their own design.

Learn some basics, print some diagrams, and view some photos.

Plant anatomy and terminology are both easy ways to introduce botanical ideas to students. The following links, and many other resources, can get you started.

Dictionary of botanical terms plus an encyclopedia of plants and flowers:

http://www.botany.com /

Parts of plants, with fun activities at some of the links:

http://www.botanical-online.com/lasplantasangles.htm

Find information about local wildflower varieties online at a site like this:

http://wildflowerinformation.org

Beautiful botanical macro photography:

http://www.botanical-online.com/macrofotografiaangles.htm

Borrow a book.

Head to your local library and see what it has to offer. You will probably find some simple books for young readers, some flower or tree identification field guides for your area, as well as books on more specialized botanical subjects. Let the selection give you inspiration. Later, if your student(s) enjoy their initial botanical studies, you may want to invest in a couple of (new or used) botany-oriented books.

Learn the local dangers.

Every environment has its hazards, whether it is your own home or classroom or a vast natural wilderness. It is just common sense.

For example, in many areas, gardeners know that sheltered areas behind plants often harbor black widow spiders; so it is wise to keep your eyes open as you explore. Depending on your region, you might have a number of other insect dangers (or at least annoyances) to plan for as well. Mosquitos, ticks, deer flies and other biting bugs are often out enjoying the summer weather at the same time you are, so take appropriate precautions with protective clothing, repellents, etc.

Flower32In California, a spring botanical phenomenon that brings many visitors out of the city, the blooming of the California poppies, is often accompanied by the spring “wake-up” of local rattlesnakes. Especially dangerous is the Mojave green rattlesnake, which is an odd gray-green color which sometimes blends into the gray- or blue-green foliage of the poppies. Every year, folks plunge out into the vast fields of orange blooms, as if it is the poppy field in Oz, with no thought to what might be hidden beneath. Unfortunately, sometimes people or dogs are bitten by rattlers, when sticking to the trails and/or watching where they put their feet could let them enjoy the gorgeous display in safety.

In some areas, you will want to be alert for bears if you go berry picking (an interesting and literally rewarding type of botanical study).

Even dangers from other plants can potentially put a damper on your botanizing adventures. Be sure that you and the children are all familiar with poison oak (western US)/poison ivy, stinging nettle, poison sumac, and any other local plant irritant.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2285113_avoid-poisonous-plants-backpacking.html

Also, if you plan to pick any wild edibles, like berries, be ABSOLUTELY sure that you know what you will be gathering, that it is safe to eat, what other local plants might look similar, and that you are legally allowed to gather it in the location where you plan to do so. Children must be seriously admonished not to pick or eat ANY other plant material they find, and young children must be very closely monitored, so keep your adult-to-child ratio as close as possible for the safest outing.

Don’t let potential dangers deter you from exploring. Just do some research so you and the students know what to expect and where to use caution.

Get up close and personal.

At botanic gardens, preserves and national parks, nature study is strictly “hands-off”… take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints”… a good policy due to the volume of visitors. However, in a schoolyard setting, home garden, or on national forest/Bureau of Land Management area, judicious hands-on opportunities can be had. Many children will respond more readily to the study if they can actually handle, dismantle and analyze a flower or leaf or two up close; so this is a great option when it is available.

Flowers, leaves , bark (and/or parts thereof) look even more interesting when seen under magnification. Many botanical details are big enough to see well with limited enlargement. So, take a magnifying glass with you; or if allowable, bring home one or two small specimens to analyze in greater detail under a home microscope. Check these links out, too.

Instructions for viewing dyed onion skin cells under the microscope (a very cool experiment!):

http://www.crystal-clear-science-fair-projects.com/plant-cell-science-project.html

An interesting sequence of photos of bamboo examined under a microscope:

http://www.powerfibers.com/Bamboo_under_the_Microscope.pdf

Some really wild autofluorescent plant cell photography you have to see to believe:

http://www.olympusconfocal.com/gallery/plants/index.html

If you can’t go out, find specimens at the grocery store or nursery, or in the kitchen.

You can also study domesticated flowers you could buy cheap in bouquets at the grocery store or in pots from a home improvement store or nursery. No one will care if you tear these apart to analyze their anatomy, and a mixed-variety supermarket bouquet will provide plenty of specimens for several students to study several different types of flower.

You can also do botanical analyses on your vegetables before you eat them. What part of the plant do you eat? Can you see the rest of it (i.e., carrot tops, pea pods, green onion roots)? Do you know where/how the plant grows? You can make many interesting botanical observations and discoveries about if you look at skins, leaf veins, seeds, husks, etc. Then you can eat what is left of your experimentation.

Growing edible sprouts is another great way to do kitchen botany. For more information, check out the Sprout School pages at SproutPeople.org:

http://sproutpeople.org/sprouts.html

Get creative–

Artistic/creative kids may enjoy flower/leaf pressing, or might learn more if they draw, paint or photograph botanical specimens.

Although you can purchase (or build) a fancy press, flower or leaf pressing can be done by placing specimens between waxed or parchment paper within the pages of a large book with other books or heavy items stacked on top. (The paper will keep your pages clean from pollen or moisture.) Leaves are usually easy to just lay flat. Flowers often look nicer with some attention paid to how you spread petals, bend stems, etc., to try to get the finished flattened flower to reflect the fresh appearance of the specimen. Experiment with more than one specimen, if practical, to see what looks the most attractive. The length of time it takes for the specimens to flatten and dry will vary based on the thickness and moisture content of the specimen, the amount of weight used, and the humidity level of your surroundings. Fully-dried pressed leaves and flowers can be kept as keepsakes or used in art projects. If they are exposed to a lot of sunlight (and as they age, generally), they may lose a lot of their original color. However, kept dry in the dark, they stay beautiful an amazingly long time.

Very young artists can observe and reproduce a flower, leaf or vegetable with the most basic elements of color and shape. Pink, red, white, yellow, purple, or orange flowers may have nearly watercolor gradations of hue and shade; but for the littlest children, just picking a corresponding color crayon, pencil or marker is a lesson. In analyzing shape, help them focus on the overall outline and basic composition. An open rose is a wavy spherical shape. A violet or viola has five petals little ones can count. Most carrots are basically a long triangle (though French and baby varieties are sometimes more oblong and rounded).

Older or more experienced student artists can explore shading, striping, spots, proportion, individual plant/flower parts, and even details as intricate as leaf veining or hairy stems. You may be surprised at the details different children will notice and choose to reproduce. We often each see something slightly different even when we view the same item. That is one of the exciting things about doing nature study with a buddy or in a group. Their choices of media will also affect the level of nuance and detail that is possible. Black-and-white pencil or ink drawings are great for fine details. Colored pencils (especially the kind that smears with water) are an easy and neat way to mix colors to show subtle gradations, even if sketching out in the field. Watercolors can give even more fluid color transitions and sometimes even capture the effect of the moisture and luminescence of some plant materials.

Plant photography can also run the gamut from a simple “wide” shot of a field of grass or flowers, to a cameo of a single pretty blossom, to a very “tight”(“macro”) photo of a vegetable’s seeds, the texture of a piece of bark, or the sticky pistil and pollen-covered stamen in the center of a flower. Again, each child will see something different, and both age and technical experience can often play a part in both their approach and their results; but it’s all another way of viewing, experiencing, and remembering what they’ve seen. Make sure that they know how to operate the camera, turn them loose, and see what they see.

Planting seeds, in more ways than one.

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to get children interested in botany is through gardening. Whether you plant a windowsill herb garden in pots, a sidewalk strip of annual flowers, or a dozen varieties of vegetables, helping with a garden gives children a wide variety of botanical experiences. They experience seed sprouting. They can learn about the nutrients and environmental factors plants need to grow. They can examine their plants in great detail. They can see the formation of fruit/seeds. They will probably also see pests and diseases that affect plants. If the plants flourish, they have a crop of herbs, flowers, fruit or vegetables to enjoy. If they don’t, trying to figure out why can provide interesting lessons as well. Do try to include some easy-to-grow varieties, to increase the chances of success; but emphasize the process (rather than the results) all along the way, so you do not miss out on the unexpected “teachable moments”.

However you choose to introduce and/or pursue botany with children, you are helping them better understand the world around them. You may also be planting the seeds of curiosity, opening up new avenues of inquiry and interest. It is always interesting how often learning one piece of information will spur you to think, ask or study about related subjects. So you never really know where the simple introductory lesson you teach might lead your students. The good news is that there is a whole summer ahead to find out!

You can also access this activity in

I will leave you with one more activity suggestion (the easiest one yet!) Play this fun flower match memory game!

http://www.prongo.com/match/flowers.pl

Please see http://www.condortales.com/bridestouch.html to learn more about the author.

Read the other parts of this creative hands-on lesson planning newsletter by visiting

http://www.amonco.org/montessori_summer_handson.html

 

 

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Spring Forward 2015 with AMC Lesson Planning

I recently revised and uploaded the new 2015 AMC Montessori Lesson Planning Springtime Newsletter. To see the contents of this newsletter please see below.

Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

Peruse through the entire lessons.

Then, download the new AMC Montessori Hands-On Creative Lesson Planning Newsletter. You can also access this newsletter by visiting http://www.amonco.org and clicking on the new eBook Library.

Below, is just a partial listing of the offerings included in the newly uploaded AMC Montessori Spring Hands-On Newsletter.

Part I – AMC Spring Newsletter

Sandy R. Wilbur answers general as well specific questions which will help you to understand the benefits of bird-watching with children. You’ll learn how to get started, what types of products to buy, and what pitfalls to avoid, to name a few. Sandy is also sensitive to the concerns educators may feel about presenting lessons on this topic

Montessori Dianne Knesek reminds us that numeration is the basis for all math concepts. An important aspect of that understanding is the ability to sequence numbers from least to greatest. Exercises are very easy to make.

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The Language Salons are the brainchild of Director François Thibaut, who’s been a foreign language teacher since the late 1960’s. Thibaut’s best known for founding the renowned Language Workshop for Children and the Cercle Franco Americain French of Adults program in 1973. Read about this program in Part I of this newsletter.

french-language-classes-new-york-city

Part II – AMC Spring Newsletter

Rae continues to show us why we should visit the Creative Process website. Her innovative ideas will greatly add to your spring lesson planning.

Dr. Borenson shares some free Hands-On Equations® Basic Algebraic Concepts.

 

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Montessorian Richard Lord offers free Downloadable “Simple Reading Books” & Free Geography Set of Land and Water Form Cards.

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Learn also how to make a flannel board from Fun Felt.

Part III – AMC Spring Newsletter

John shares his entertaining as well as educational activities entitled “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE and The Needle Proof Balloon.”

Nan shows us how to make some delicious peanut fudge. See how you can plan extension lesson exercises combining handwriting, cooking and illustrating!!!

Does your middle school student enjoy participating in fun, challenging puzzles? Are you looking for some activities to help your student prepare for the ACT or SAT?

In honor of two major spring holidays, Alan Stillson, the author of Middle School Word Puzzles, invites you to find these words and expressions that are related to Easter or Passover. Alan also offers some fun, challenging food puzzles for middle school students. Check out the new free samples from Alan’s newest book, Brain Warmer Uppers, as well.

brain

It’s Time to Think Outside the Book and Kindle, Too! Curious? Read this section to find out how you can use the creative ideas of Rita Arpaia from Literatureplace.com in your home and school classrooms right now!

Part IV — AMC Spring Newsletter

Dale Gausman, from North American Montessori Center, offers the timely Introducing a Bird Feeder and Making Grass-Eggshell People. You will also found three additional outstanding Montessori extension exercises – My Family Tree,  Marble Design Paper, and  Montessori Easter Activities: Ukrainian Easter Eggs in Culture and Science Curriculum with free .pdf downloads – all offered by NAMC.

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Part V – AMC Spring Newsletter

Marie and Kim illustrate how drawing helps children develop a mental map. Discover a Montessori extension exercise that is designed for age group 5 to 95. :)

It’s time to get up and “move” with Go Green!, a brand new CD form Kimbo Educational http://kimboed.com/gogreen.aspx#.UtRAIvZVe0e “GO GREEN! Caring About Our Earth contains song about playing outdoors, recycling, planting a garden, stopping pollution, and more inspire children to connect to the Earth and encourage them to be responsible for the Earth. Action fun and singable songs motivate children to be involved and to be aware of the outside world

Look for the Guide/Extension Activities by Dr. Pam Schiller in this section of the newsletter.

KIM9318CD

Find the lyrics and directions for the song, “The Alphabet March and Match”, by Pam Schiller, Ph.D., from the new Kimbo Educational CD release, Move and Learn.

The focus of the song is on letters, which aids in literacy knowledge. Move and Learn is a unique resource, providing 17 guided, action-packed educational songs, featuring concepts and skills that are necessary for every child to learn, including numbers, colors, literacy and more.

KIM9325CD

Part VI – AMC Spring Newsletter

Dr.Borenson, from Hands-On Equations®, offers more samples of algebraic concepts.

Download free French and Spanish songs with translations from Professor Toto.

watchandlearn1

Part VII- AMC Spring Newsletter

Ruth shares a needlepoint lesson which is designed for students 12 years and older.

Marjorie shares a classical music lesson plan for springtime from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

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Download the new, free “Anti-gravity water – is it possible? science activity from Exploration Education.

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Don’t forget to read Part VIII – AMC Spring Newsletter

Celebrating the Personal Life of George Washington

Montessorians will appreciate the imaginative George Washington lesson planning ideas that author Sara Ambarian has provided. Traditional colonial recipes are featured and can easily be incorporated into Montessori’s practical life exercises. Sara has done an excellent job of presenting sufficient information about this subject, without bogging down educators with too much data.

Diana, from Nature’s Workshop Plus, knows that we are all looking forward to the beauty of spring, so she showers us with some springtime nature activities that are sure to be enjoyed in any Montessori environment.

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The late Montessorian Kathy O’Reilly uses eggs as the focus of food related exercises. Her multiple subject integrated approach is supplemented with a Booklist for additional extension lessons.

This post contains only a very small sampling of what is offered in this newsletter.All of the lessons contained in the newsletter are free of charge. Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html to download the newsletter in .pdf.

Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz
http://www.amonco.org
Celebrating 27 Years of Serving School and Home Educators
Montessori for the 21st Century

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Autumn Adventures in Hands-On Science with Exploration Education

Maria Montessori knew that children would tire of memorizing facts and learning about scientific concepts that seemed vague or difficult to comprehend.    Without the relevance of seeing how science can actually relate to everyday life, children can become disinterested and disengaged from this discipline.  Therefore, home and school educators are continually searching for ways to make this subject exciting and meaningful.   They want exercises that are easy to present, easy to understand and encourage the student to engage in further independent reading and study.    Exploration Education meets these goals and more by specializing in a unique science base hands-on curriculum that can be tailored to meet the student’s needs.   See http://www.explorationeducation.com for complete details.

 
You can access the following free hands-on activities that you can use right now and in the months

 
Money to Burn
Push or Pull
To Float, or not to Float
Air Lift
One turn deserves another
Floating Eggs
It’s Needling Me
Optics
Plastic Milk
Soap that grows
The Invisible Leash
The little big bounce
Can do
Speed boat soap
The Flame Proof Balloon
I can’t take the pressure
Static Charge
Needle proof balloon
Simply Sound
Heat Transfer, thermodynamics, and a rubber band
To view these activities please visit:
Exploration Education Activities.

 
Some of these activities can be downloaded into .pdf format. See below.


AMC Summer Hands-On Newsletter
AMC Fall Hands-On Newsletter
AMC Spring Hands-On Newsletter

Be sure to stay tuned to Montessori21stCentury for the unveiling of the winter hands-on newsletter where you will find an additional activity in .pdf format from Exploration Education.

Finally, don’t forget to enter the special AMC 25th Anniversary Drawing.  To see the list of prizes available visit Montessori 25th Anniversary Drawing.

To enter the drawing, please visit AMC Online Resource Directory  Scroll to the bottom and complete the entry blank.
 
Heidi Anne Spietz
American Montessori Consulting
www.amonco.org

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Montessori Summer Gardening Unit Study

Below, are links for a complete summer gardening unit study. These PreK and K-8 links will lead you to articles, hands-on activities and other exercises that are compatible with the Montessori classified reading cards, phonics, grammar, creative writing, science, social studies and other extensive lesson plans found in Montessori books.

This unit study was brought to you by Heidi Spietz. To learn more about Heidi, click here.

Montessori Classified Reading Cards and Other Aids to Learn About Summer and Year Round Gardening

Make Your Own Classified Reading Cards for PreK – Grade 5
Nurturing Budding Botanists – Learning and Teaching the Basics
of Plant Science

Names of Flowers in English, French and Latin
Names of Vegetables in Spanish with Pronunciation Key
Names of Fruits in Spanish – Spanish Vocabulary
Names of Fruits in Spanish – with Pronunciation Key
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – English
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – English
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – French
Fruits and Vegetables – Frutas y Verduras
Vegetable Names in European Languages
Names of Flowers in English, French and Latin
Mature Flower Diagram Clip Art
Plant Cell Wall Diagram Clip Art
Summer Flowers – Names and Facts
Northwest Coloring Book Scientific Plant Name Index
Let’s Study About the Cycle of a Flowering Plants and Trees
– Extension of Montessori’s Classified Reading Cards for Elementary Students

Plant Identification by Characteristics (Reference Guide)
The Garden Game

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Sensory Exercises/Motor Development Involving the Study of Summer Gardening

Sunflower Seed Activities (Pre K – Grade 6)
Seed Match
Collecting Seeds – Fun for the Whole Family
Learning Center Grdening Table for the Classroom
A Close-Up Look at Seeds
Backyard Detective
Sensory Table (Sunflower Seeds)

Practical Life Exercises Involving the Study of Summer Gardening

Summer Flower Bulbs
Itching to Plant (Germinating Seeds)
What Shall I Grow?
Home-grown “Fast Food” for Busy Families by Sara L. Ambarian
Gardening Year Round – Tips from an Expert
Learn What Mulch Can Do For You!
International Gardening Information – Scroll Down Half Way through Newsletter
A Child’s Garden
Grow It Cook It
Planting a Gardem – Lower Elementary Ages
Garden Planters and Containers
Preparing a Container Garden
Gardening Tools
Homegrown Vegetables in Any Space
Complete Gardening Archive
Organic Garden Seeds
Wildflower Seed Planting Instructions – Wildflower How-to-Guide

Language Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

My Vegetable Gardening Diary
Special Summer Food Fun – Word Puzzles for Middle Schoolers
The Secret Garden
Garden Tales
Montessori Gardening Grammar Bingo
Growing Poems
Experience of Nature (Flora: Plants & Flowers) PreK – Grade 2
Recommended Children’s Poetry Books (Ages 4 – 8)
Recommended Children’s Poetry Books (Ages 9 – 13)
Figurative Speech: Analogies, Similes, and Metaphors

Science and Social Science Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

Growing Plants Unit Study – Upper Elementary Level
Vegetable Planting Guide Worksheet
Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes (Grades 2 – 6)
Comparing Leaves
Growing Plants Unit
Science With Plants
Cultivating Hope
Microscopes for Observation and Science Experiments
The Garden Game
Cultivating History Lessons Gardens for Schools
Planting a Gardem Thematic Unit Study – Lower Elementary Ages
Vegetable Guide to Planting in Late Summer
Seeds to Plant in Late Summer/Fall
Farmers’ Almanc Gardening Calendar
Plant a Summer Crop of Beans
Curriculum Connections
The Science of Gardening
Harvest of History – The Farmers’ Museum
Aromatic History
– Herbs in Colonial Life
Hands On Flower Model

Music and Art Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

Let’s Make Pressed Flowers – Elementary Level
Draw Your World – Drawing Enriches the Curriculum
Flower Themes, Flowers in Art
Sharing Food, Food in Art
Changing a Flower’s Color
Seed Collages (Scroll down until you see this activity)
Painting a Garden (Scroll down until you see this activity
Flowers Posters, Prints, Charts, Photographs & Calendars
Garden-Inspired Performing Arts
Sing and Learn About Science

Math Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

It’s Juice! Reading and Interpreting Graphs
Exploring Math in the Garden
Sprouting Math Activities – Algebra
http://www.kidsgardening.org/article/grappling-data
Sprouting Math Activities – Problem Solving
Flowers: Graph & Graph Again
Inside hte Coordinate Grid

Business Marketing Activities

Plant Sale Grows Kids
Peddling Plants
Cultivating Funds with Indoor Plants
Fungi Fever

Additional Extension Exercises – Let’s Write, Discuss and Talk About Gardening

Granny’s Garden School
More Fruits and Vegetables
How To Pick Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Season
Farmer’s How to Pick Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Spanish
Farmer’s Market Fruit and Vegetable Bargains
Curriculum Connections – Incorporate Selected Ideas for Montessori Environment
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade(Part I)
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade (Part II)

Visit American Montessori Consulting and look under New and Notable for other unit studies. Copyright 2007 – 2013 Heidi Spietz – American Montessori Consulting

 Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz

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Summer is Coming – Part II

The beauty and slower pace of summer brings out the artist in some children (and adults.) If you have an art fan in the house, check out these neat summer art inspirations, especially the Van Gogh sunflowers and underwater self-portraits, which really show off each child’s personal style. http://pinterest.com/dbart/summer-lesson-plans/

You will find more miscellaneous summer arts and crafts here:

http://pinterest.com/lnmontessori/montessori-art-music/(Montessori art and music)

http://lessonplans.craftgossip.com/category/kids-crafts-by-the-season/summer

 Maria Montessori once said “…the senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge.” Many children find nature a feast for their senses, especially in summer, when plants and animals are growing strong.  If your summer plans include getting up close and personal with nature, you will find great information and ideas here:

http://www.workshopplus.com/

http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com/

http://www.squidoo.com/naturestudywithchildren

http://simplycharlottemason.com/2007/07/25/8-reasons-to-do-nature-study/

http://simplehomeschool.net/5-tips-for-nature-study/

Getting too much sun during your outdoor activities, or visiting a historical site on summer travels?  This free pioneer bonnet pattern sews up fairly easily with a very attractive result.  Children will need a little help interpreting and taping together the pattern, partly due to the multiple pretty brim styles included; but the actual sewing would not be too difficult for a child who has done a little sewing and has helpful adult supervision.  http://www.sewchicpatterns.com/free.html

A lot of museums, zoos, cities, counties, etc., schedule inexpensive or free activities for children and families during the summer months. Search the internet using your local city, county, or venue name and “free summer activities”, “free summer classes” or “free summer camps”, and see what is offered in your area. You might also consider these nationwide ideas.

http://www.crystalandcomp.com/2011/05/80-inexpensive-or-free-summer-activities-for-kids/

http://freebies.about.com/od/freestuffforkids/tp/classes-for-kids.htm

http://stayathomemoms.about.com/od/activitiesandfun/a/free-summer-program-for-kids.htm

Although summer  is almost two months away, but we all know it usually seems to fly by.  So, start making plans now to make the most of this wonderful season!

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New Beginnings

“From small beginnings come great things.” Proverb

Spring is a time of beginnings, for all living things. Children and adults can engage together in this exciting season of rebirth– observing the growth and celebrating the feeling of renewal.

Baby Animals and Insects are Born

The animal world is full of activity in the spring.  New arrivals include many more species than the chicks and bunnies we think of in connection with Easter.

Monarch butterfly life cycle as photographed for the Chicago Nature Museum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AUeM8MbaIk

Here a stick insect emerges from his egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiV-DsfoJwA

At the Seymour fish hatchery in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, salmon eggs wiggle out of their eggs to become alevin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgp6OjpfrQo  For more on the fascinating life cycle of a salmon, check out this informational page from the hatchery. http://seymoursalmon.com/lifecycle.php

Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings is a delightful story of a family with babies.  If you don’t have access to a copy, here’s a nice reading of it, on-line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fQpliJJQI

This short video shows a baby robin hatching from its egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKgLfWheoI

ZooBorns is a blog which shows the photos and stories of animals born at accredited zoos and aquariums from all around the world.  There is always a cute new addition.  http://www.zooborns.com/

Just for fun, here are some cute baby animals sure to make students, parents and teachers smile. http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/70-cutie-baby-animals-bring-your-a-good-mood/

Seeds Sprout and Buds Blossom

One of the main things we all think of in spring is the growth and rebirth of the plant world, and there are many ways students can use and hone their science and observation skills in the springtime.  Both nature study and gardening offer opportunities to learn about the life cycles of plants.

Enjoy these neat time-lapse videos of seeds sprouting.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d26AhcKeEbE , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKx4ZwoJqXY  , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nvAzt9sWIg , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN8c_X0LNcg

Fruit trees bud out and bloom.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQyvRtyhMfA . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdpDkulqQ9U , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-6dQvOSYmI

Even the lowly dandelion, spring and summer scourge of the suburban lawn, takes on rare beauty when we concentrate on its complex composite flower opening in the sun and closing with the dusk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrUdOYZfV4I

The Beauty of Pollination shows hummingbirds, butterflies, bats and other creatures helping to pollinate a variety of flowers.  (If you have a good internet connection, check out the HD version link on this version. It’s beautiful!) http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xHkq1edcbk4?rel=0

How a Plant Grows is just one interesting book on the life cycles of plants. http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=605&idcategory=0

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If your students will try their hands at growing their own plants, here’s a quick overview of the differences between hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, including a little information about genetically-modified seeds. http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetable1/f/Heirlooms.htm

In the past few years, all around the world, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the comparative merits and problems of open-pollinated vs. hybridized seeds, including a lot of controversy over genetically-modified (GMO) seeds.  Wherever you stand on this complex issue, it involves an interesting mix of scientific, medical, philosophical and ethical considerations which students can research and ponder for themselves.

New Scientist offers a round-up of interesting articles both for and against genetically-modified foods/seeds. http://www.newscientist.com/topic/gm-food

This article from Clemson University gives a fine overview of what constitutes an heirloom seed and how seeds are saved in home gardens. It also lists and describes some famous heirloom varieties. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/gardening/hgic1255.html

One of the neat things about heirlooms seeds is that children can grow the same seeds as children from a hundred or more years ago and/or children from other countries/continents.  Heirlooms allow us to combine horticulture with history (and sometimes geography). They also often have interesting sizes, shapes, colors and flavors which may not be commercially profitable but may be especially fun or interesting for children.

Here are just two of the many dependable heirloom/open-pollinaed seed companies with a wide variety of interesting vegetable and flower seeds: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds http://rareseeds.com/  and Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/

The Littlest Learners Start Strong

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays over, it is a great time to have preschoolers make some of their own new beginnings, too.

Books make great “gift” additions to Easter baskets.  Find a great assortment of early learning books at Farm Country General Store. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/index.php/cPath/7

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Little ones with visual and physical learning styles may especially enjoy these free video resources.

Here’s a cute version of the traditional ABC song.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCDxiJm-FX4

KidsTV123 has a cute alphabet song with graphics that show many examples of every letter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_-lz2BI2Co

This interesting video tries to help kids learn the alphabet in 15 minutes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyBuYclBSwI

Help toddlers learn their colors with these cute videos.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arU-AxEVsi8 and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHer1peKX88

Sing along and fill in the blanks with “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_0HWkYnJ20

Early number and counting lessons.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsKpazuC0RY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5Ak50dFse8 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO1K1bspH_8 , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOrTsCpemo

This is a short overview of Montessori theory and classroom activities from Australia.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZLq5Uttq8M

Although not Montessori-specific, for some interesting information and examples of language skills are connected to the daily life and learning of preschoolers, check out Language for Learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AL1IDGCVAo

Happy Spring!

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