How A Walk In The Park Helped My Learners with Botany
I am not an overwhelming fan of following a scope and sequence religiously. I also don't find botany a topic I am naturally drawn towards.
Enter into my life: a new book, neurodiverse children, and a local park!
I picked up The Nature Activity Book earlier this year. It is designed for NZ and has a range of interesting nature activities in it that integrate STEM, Matauranga Māori, Earth Systems, Botany and Zoology.
My neurodiverse learners find our regular walks through the local bush a great place to relax and seeking to extend our learning in the bush in the little I thought the activity book would have some ideas.
I found a page on leaf sorting. As my learners hadn't had experience in Montessori preschool with leaf categorising this spurred an idea for us to go leaf hunting. On our walk that day, we picked up a range of leaves. When we got back I wrote some labels and we used the book to help us categorise the leaves. At one point a child called out "This one is a cordate!" It was great to see their excitement!
Another activity in the book was making leaf bunting. We didn't have any string and the children and I wondered out loud about what we could use to attach the leaves to a string like material. We experimented with ribbon, a hole punch, scissors and eventually settled on some new shoe laces and the needle from the sewing shelf to help us make these buntings which we hung from the window.
A couple of days later I got out the leaf matching cards and we looked at the parts of the leaf. This set is from Montessori For Everyone.
Another walk provided an opportunity to look at the parts of the leaf. This one was a favourite due to its different colours on each side.
Using this in conjunction with some recent discussions about animals as interest a jumping off point I presented the Second Great Story to the students this week. We used the Second Great Story Script and Powerpoint and then looked at the Timeline of Life.
The children didn't have that much to say or ask about the story but were keen on going for a walk ! We went for a walk through the bush and while walking I linked the pine trees that we have to the part in the story about conifers.
I'm becoming increasingly aware and keen on making learning as natural as possible. I am really interested in seeing where this learning goes next.