Montessori Botany

BR has become interested in the “inconsequential” world around him as the year has progressed.  We began they year with a “Yeah, yeah . . . grass, so what!” attitude.  It was difficult to encourage him to grasp the wonder of the smallest of items.

The unveiling has brought him to squatting over tiny flies on the beach to see their wings beating the sand to make little fly angles.  I could not believe it.  He wanted to know why they were staying so close to the sand.  Then what were those dimples in the dirt.  AV just stepped over him and kept walking.  BR was undeterred.  He watched.  He observed.  He was so peaceful. He rose excited and gestured all the way through his observation discussion with me.

Recently BR has become a farmer of a 3 foot by 3 foot box.  He bought the fake wood with his own money.  He sawed the fake wood for days in my kitchen; its fine powdery sawdust lurking next to the fridge.  He and JV worked together to pre-drill screw holes (had to figure it out), screw the pieces together, find the proper spot for the box, fill it with dirt, and go to Hyams for seeds and veggis.

He planted the seeds just as he had seen me do in my garden, and daily, he would check to see if his seeds were sprouting.  They did.  He rejoiced. He has fretted over the mildew on the squash leaves, pulled weeds, dead headed the marigolds, and generally puttered about his plot of ground.

He decided he needed a new project and it was going to be botany.  No questioning him on this.  “I love plants,” he declared.

He is working on his own project which we will post when it is complete.

Here is a taste of his work.

I went and pulled out the Montessori Botany Demonstration Cards.  These scientific demonstrations are accompanied by a Montessori Botany Chart illustrating the principal to be observed in the demonstration cards.

I also pulled my AMI botany books (which have three part cards, too), seed packets, and “Who Am I” Botany Cards. I have also begun revising my botany classification cards for a 5 to 6 kingdom approach to science.

A basket with the books nestled inside - for the moment.

Seed packets

Montessori’s approach to Botany is three pronged.

1. Taxonomy – dividing the kingdom into its subset so that the child may be able to understand relationship among living things (or the lack of obvious relationship as the case may be).

What is this? What is closely related to it? Why do we put this with that but not with the other.

2. Nomenclature – the parts of, types of, groups of: plants, leaves, stems, adaptations, roots, flowers, fruit, and seeds.  This allows for deeper observation of the natural world to aid in understanding and classification.

After cutting an apple open crossways, we discussed the name of this type of ovary, seed type, and parts of the fruit. Then we had a snack.

3. Physiology – how it works or doesn’t.  What systems do plants have and why.

The demonstration discussing respiration in a plant. Chart in the background showing sun, water, soil, air. The tray has matches, radish seeds (sprouting) in a large jar, and small jar of water to keep the cotton with seeds moist.

Just as an added note:  If you need to pop a seed quickly out of its protective coating, place the seed under a cotton ball that has been soaked in hydrogen peroxide.  In about an hour as opposed to 12 hours, the seed coating will be ready to remove.  BR needed to see the differences between monocotyledon and dicotyledon seeds. Shazzam.

Cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide.


Filed under Botany, BR, Construction Skills, Educational Philosophy, gardening, Going outs (Field Trips), Montessori, Practical Life - Elementary, Projects, Science, Writing

6 responses to “Montessori Botany

  1. Oh EV, how delightful that BR is blossoming!!! I can’t wait to hear more about his new love of botany. 🙂 He’s so fortunate to have you as his guide…

  2. That is so great! Do you have a source for the demonstration cards/charts? I’d like to get my hands on some.

    • EV


      The charts are closely guarded by Montessorians – although I’m not sure why. If anything they are the least beautiful of anything done by AMI folks. Several people contributed not only the lessons but the drawings so there is no uniformity. It is why I’m redoing them to make the look be more uniform (ie: all the suns look the same). The lessons are valid and wonderfully call to the child’s imagination.

      I’m finding that the demonstration cards need to be rewritten as the child is not able to be done without seeing someone who knows all the assumptions do it first. This has led to some scuffles between BR and I over what the demonstration cards are asking for.


  3. Has he ever read anything about Jefferson and how he ran Monticello? Jefferson fully studied every single passion that came to his mind…. very montessori – when he mastered it he moved on. He made Monticello an interdependent working community based on his reading alone. I don’t know at what level he reads, but you might find something. Also, I’ve used this blog with my students, and will be pulling it back up again this summer with the project I’m working on with the summer dayare kids at my school

    • EV


      The boys are big John Adams fans and are a little biased against Jefferson. That said, they can appreciate his innovations because he and John Drayton of Drayton Hall shared many similarities. They even exchanged plants like olive trees.

      I’m looking forward to perusing the handbook of nature study.

  4. Pingback: Montessori and Composting With Kids – Family Time

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