Sunday, May 24, 2009

Outdoor Botanical Exercises

We had several hot days last week. I was hoping to do some classroom work outside. Luckily, during our playground time, a few children asked for paper so that they could do botanical drawings. Patti went inside and got a couple of sheets for them. I watched them work for a few minutes before going inside to my classroom to get the botany cabinet. I put it on one of the picnic benches to see if anyone would choose to use it. They did and I was so glad that I had taken it from its shelf. I wondered about it for a minute as it is a pretty expensive material. But I had a flash memory of a black and white photo I had seen when I was at the Centennial Celebration in San Francisco two years ago. The children in the photograph were working outside in their garden. I reflected on that remembered image for a moment and then picked up the cabinet and carried outside to where the children were.

After they drew a couple of shapes, they took flower petals and a rock and hammered color from the petals onto their drawings. We did a lot of work like this - only with a hammer - when we made our classroom auction project which was a hammered flower and leaf tablecloth with matching napkins. I was really pleased that the children so easily recalled the work and modified it for the tools at hand - no hammer, use a rock.

Some of the older students decided to write down all the names of the flowers using the plastic labels that came with the plants as guides.

I noticed that several of my younger students were also drawn to the garden but were not interested in drawing. I encouraged them to select a leaf shape and try to find a match in the garden. It was lovely to see the younger children so engaged. Some of them came back again and again to the botany cabinet exchanging one shape for another.

After a long, hard winter we have come outside to work. We have even joined the children on the swings - well I have:

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