As soon as warm weather makes an appearance, shirts and pants become too short, shoes miraculously start wearing out, and a mischievous sparkle shines in their eyes.
My 8 year old wanders back into the house after what should have been a ten minute trip to the grocery store, with mysterious smudges of dirt on his forehead, and a story to tell.
I spend my afternoons trying to resist the charms of four little ones eager to stay outside until the last possible minute. It’s amazing how many excuses for staying at the park a rosy-cheeked four year old (supported of course by his 5, 6, and 8 year old siblings) can think of when push comes to shove!
I can’t say I blame them – I’m not too anxious to go inside either.
So I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and my kids’ newfound curiosity, by starting a new theme based on spring. Normally I afterschool for about two hours in the afternoons, but for those sessions we usually spend our time doing table work. There’s plenty of hands on learning of course, but it’s still relatively sedate.
Instead, we’ve flipped the order of things: now, we go out on long adventures “to see what we can see.” We wander around the city, letting our eyes lead the way. Lately, the kids have been interested in all things green- especially flowers and leaves. So I’ve taken their natural interests, and built a curriculum around flowers and leaves.
Here are some of the things we have done:
For this one I opted to use fake flowers, since they last longer.
I found a miniature vase at a school supply store, and a wooden tray at another closeout store.
If you do choose to use real flowers, such as wildflowers, you could add a small pair of nail scissors for snipping flowers to the right size.
I didn’t choose that option because being in the city, wildflowers aren’t so close by, and flowers get used up pretty fast!
DIY Flower parts puzzle
The kids enjoyed this one, though I did cut corners on it.
I could see right away that since it wasn’t the real puzzle, it would be less captivating for the kids. With a real puzzle, there is more fine motor work involved. Plus, kids can use the puzzle pieces to trace around and make their own flower.
So instead of using felt as the post suggests, I just laminated the flower templates with packing tape – and let the kids practice putting the pieces in their proper places.
I used the 3 period lesson to teach them basic parts of the flower, and we’ll review the names during our travels around the city.
Thanks to MaybeMontessori for the puzzle templates.
Flower parts booklet
This one I reserved for the 6 and 8 year old. It’s also a Montessori activity, like the two previous exercises.
There is a booklet with all the flower parts named; on each page of the booklet, a different part of the flower is colored in, and the name of the flower is written below.
There is also a separate book of definitions.
I had both children color in one part of the flower, and write the name of the part below.
My 8 year old loved especially loved this activity – he also wrote the definitions for each part, using an old school workbook that we found at a secondhand store a few years back.
He loves reading, so he had already memorized a few parts on his own.
Here's the link for this flower parts booklet from Montessori Materials.
Flower Matching/Naming Game
We launched this activity with a flower hunt.
The kids and I went for a long walk through several city parks hunting for wildflowers.
Even my 4 year old was excited about it, wielding his safety scissors at every eligible plant and leaf.
We were excited to find about 6 different kinds of flowers (not bad for a city excursion!), and were about to pick the last coup – a large white flower that looks like an oversized dandelion – when the 4 year old remarked that there was a bug.
The 8 year old took a closer look, scissors in hand – and ran away in a panic when he realized it was a scorpion!
He declared that as soon as he got home he was going straight into the bath. Both of them spent the walk home checking themselves frantically for crawling things :).
Flower pressing activity
When we got home we pressed the flowers we found; when they're ready we’ll look them up in our wildflower guide and label the flowers and leaves.
Here are some more activities that we haven’t yet gotten to:
DIY Leaf Cards
In this activity, kids learn the names for the different shapes of leaves. Of course a leaf cabinet would be great, but since it’s pretty expensive (and I don’t have time to make a DIY version), we’re going to make do with the leaf cards.
Hands on Science Experiments
I’m overdue to spend some quality time with my 8 year old, so I’ve decided to spend some time doing some science experiments. Hopefully we'll get to them in the next few weeks.