Every year, Villa di Maria hosts Silent Journey, wherein parents who participate are lead on a Montessori journey in order to experience the philosophy firsthand. They receive lessons from the Children’s House on up through Upper Elementary, over the course of two days. While Silent Journey deserves its own blog post, one lesson that was given this time around was Parts of a Flower, by Upper Elementary Guide Rebecca Callander. Below, she shares the lesson with a small group of Upper Elementary children using some of the extra flowers leftover from Silent Journey. Part of the beautiful lesson, below.
Drawing attention to the beauty of the flower is easy, especially in the middle of the winter when colors outside are limited to muted grays and browns. Rebecca begins by focusing her attention on the beautiful display the flower produces, noting that when all the pollinators are out, they are drawn to the flashy bright colors the flower displays. But why?
The Parts of a Flower lesson is an introduction to reproduction; plant reproduction requires male and female parts of the plant. The childrens’ eyes grow wide with this recognition!
Rebecca identifies the colorful petals that make up the corolla, the part of the flower that we first notice, and that attracts insects and birds to the nectar glands on or near their base. On this particular flower, Rebecca notes that the patterns and colors act as a sort of “landing strip” for insects. The children are fascinated.
She carefully points out the stamens, the male parts of the flower that produce the pollen.
The children take turns reading from the materials that accompany this lesson, taking time to examine the flower with each new piece of information.
A child examines the calyx, or the outer whirl of the flower, which is made up of sepals, and primarily serves to prevent loss of water from the inner developing flower parts. They note the differences between the calyx of one type of flower versus another; one appears completely green, like leaves, while the other more closely resembles the petals of the flower.
Now, it is time to dissect the flower. Rebecca demonstrates how to separate the receptacle from the rest of the flower so that they may examine the inside of the pistil and ovules of the flower. The children take the time to tape and label each part of the flower onto a black piece of paper.
While they discuss the role of the pistil (the female part of the flower that produces the ovules that become seeds), children take turns examining it under the microscope. This particular pistil was made up of one carpel, though many flowers have multiple carpels.
Searching for seeds; the ovules were immature in this flower, but the children were still able to identify the tiny parts that could develop into seeds.
Once the children were finished labeling the parts of this flower, they were eager to dissect a different one on their own. They chose a yellow rose, and Rebecca quietly stepped away to allow them the independent experience of repeating the lesson they had just been shown.
This eager curiosity is such a big part of the Montessori method of learning. That children can hardly wait to learn more, to investigate and further explore the natural world at their fingertips, is the beauty of this timeless way of approaching the world. We are inspired just by observing it all!
Thank you, Rebecca, for giving us a glimpse into this lesson, and to all the joy it brings!