Category Archives: gardening

Botany for BW

Today was our first day back.  I’ve been hoping that all of BW’s plants would hold off until he could see what they were up to.  Here is his botany in pictures.

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Filed under Botany, BW, gardening, Practical Life - Elementary, Science

Montessori and Botany – A Case

Rant to follow:

We’ve been looking at the Montessori Botany charts and the AMI Montessori Botany books and cards intently for about two months.  It was not an easy decision to do this because botany is not emphasized in any school that I have observed in nor was it encouraged in my training. BW will be entering a school next year where Botany will be set aside.

Consider the implications.

What is the most predominant color in your yard?  For most of us it is green.  Green from the chlorophyll in the plants.  It surrounds the child in his world every day.  Trees and bushes, flowers and veggies.  Grasses and weeds are all items that the child comes in contact with on a daily basis. (Or she should – that is another rant all together.)

What has a discernible life cycle that fits within the context of one year?

Plants do not require us to follow a multi-year pattern to observe the rhythms of life.  The buds come,  the leaves, the flowers, the fruit, the mature plant’s job is complete, it rests or dies.  We can communicate this rhythm easily even to the very young child.

It is small and great at the same time.

It requires a magnifying glass to look at the veins in the leaves and the stamens in the flower and the root hairs which nourish the whole plant.

It requires us to stand way back to measure how deep the roots go into the ground and how high into the air the plant grows.

It requires children to join hands to measure the girth of the tree.

It requires the most delicate touch to examine the parts of a seed and and the great strength to roll a log to see what uses the moist ground underneath as its home

It summons  the greatest of courage to climb into the tree’s limbs (and to come back down on their own) and the evokes the gift of nurturing as the tiny seeds push their way into this world.

It encourages personal responsibility for the food that the classroom may share and that enters our bodies.

Botany is wild and wonderful.  It is small and great.  It surrounds the child.  They must be given the chance to love their world and Botany is a whole giant slice that we are often overlooking to get to the animals.

As for us.  We began whole underwhelmed.  Now we measure our growing beans (which have just put forth fruit).  We’ve harvested our radishes.  We’ve cut open flowers.  Looked at symmetry. Measured the height of the Live Oak in the front and back yards.  Rubbed leaves.  Know about roots and types.  Eaten weeds from our yard -seriously really good. Worked up the courage to climb onto the shed roof to discuss how water moves through the plant.  And most importantly – we’ve become so much more attentive to the world in which we live.


  1. how to scientifically measure
  2. how to graph over time 
  3. how to use a scalpel
  4. parts of a plant cell
  5. parts of the flower
  6. parts of the roots
  7. parts of the stem
  8. vascular system of the plants
  9. nitrogen cycle
  10. periodic table symbols (more of them)
  11. shells of electrons (needed for ions and charged particles)
  12. how warm soil must be to grow veggies
  13. how to draw for science journals
  14. how to use secondary measurements and triangulation ratios to measure height of trees.
  15. how to harvest from nature
  16. hydroponics (and here)
  17. a few natural remedies for bites, bruises, and stings
  18. how water pressure works (and how it doesn’t)
  19. types of leaves
  20. types of leaf margins
  21. types of venation
  22. shapes of leaves
  23. parts of the leaf
  24. types of stems
  25. taxonomical divisions in plants – and why

All this and we are only on lesson 13 out of 26.

Previous thoughts on Botany here.


Filed under AV, Botany, BW, DW, gardening, JV, MMcC, Practical Life - Elementary, Projects, Science, Students

More than Water Pressure

We’ve been working through the Montessori botany lessons.  These lessons begin with the roots and move up the stems and into the leaves.  We have been looking at how water pressure works.  The soil to roots to stems to leaves to the atmosphere.  We discussed capillary pressure; we discussed how the sun “sucks” the water further up into the leaves; we also discussed how water moves from the higher pressure to lower pressure.

Ms. Julie worked with a long length of garden hose, 1/4 in tubing – 8 feet in length, and 1/2 in tubing to demonstrate the principals of the xylem constructions.

After the demonstration, the kids began to play with the garden hose piece. Eventually they spent around thirty minutes trying to get it into the tree.  Finally AV was employed to help.

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Filed under Botany, BW, DW, gardening, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, Students

DW – Hydroponics

The trip to the hydroponic garden included the entire home school group.  It was extremely cold that day, but as soon as I walked into the greenhouse I began to wish I had worn shorts and a T-shirt.

The first thing I noticed were the tomato vines with tomatoes along the bottom; the owners had wrapped them among the bottom so when the tomatoes were ripe they were easier to pick. Down one row they had planted cucumbers, huge cucumbers.

Among the cucumbers there were ” bee hives.” Bee hives were actually cardboard boxes full of bees and larvae.  Every couple of months they have to replace the hive.

Not only do they grow tomatoes and cucumbers, they also grow lettuce and basil. After our tour we bought lettuce, tomatoes, and a cucumber. The lettuce and tomatoes were delicious on a salad. You could taste the difference between the store bought ones and the hydroponics.

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Filed under AV, Botany, BW, DW, gardening, Going outs (Field Trips), JV, MMcC, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, Students

Plants! Plants! Rulers!

We are working through the Montessori Botany Lessons using the Botany Charts.  I’ve asked the children to create their own renditions of the charts. This helps me assess what they have taken from the lessons and helps them work through precision in the elementary.

Here is an excellent video discussing the purpose of the charts and the proper order for discussions: first the real world and then the impressionistic chart.

Along with these charts there are a series of demonstrations (not experiments).  BW couldn’t bear to allow his bean seedlings to die.  Initially we were looking at root hairs and the way they grow.  To do this we inserted five seeds into a small glass beaker filled with sand.  We covered the glass with dark papers and made sure the sand was damp.  In no time, BW was excited.  There they were – all five sprouted!

We’ve gone ahead and planted them in a pot.  BW has named them and drawn a key so he can keep track of his names.  He then measures growth each time he visits.  This is where we are.  He is carefully watching the growth of the plants.  He is observing how beans grow their leaves.  There was a near casualty to one of the five which has brought us to additional discussion meristematic tissue.


Filed under Art, Botany, BW, DW, gardening, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, sketching, Students

Botany Demonstration – Root Hair Acidity

Our radishes are sprouting.  We will try to see how acidic their root hairs are in the morning.



Filed under Botany, gardening, Practical Life - Elementary, Science

JV – in the news

I just discovered that JV was interviewed for an article at our last Rendeveous in North Georgia.  Who knew.  Thought I’d share it.

This was during a class he took on primitive medicine – “You are out in the woods with little to nothing.  What are you going to do if…”

His take away – mint family – go with the mint family.

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Filed under "Coming of Man", American History, Botany, Camping/Basic Survival Skills, Construction Skills, gardening, Geography and World Studies, Going outs (Field Trips), JV, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, Students