The first day of our Botany block was the perfect spring day: the air was chilly, but the sun was warm. All three of us worked together and turned over both garden beds. I was feeling *pretty* proud of myself for choosing the *perfect* month to study plants outside. Mother Nature, however, has a wicked sense of humor. The rest of the month was cold and windy and gave us more snow than we had all winter. I can tell you, studying plants indoors is not fun at all. We did do our reading, although I found the Charles Kovacs Botany book unengaging and The Mary Frances Garden Book dated and tedious. As I had planned on using both of these books as our spines, I was pleasantly surprised by two beautifully illustrated picture books I off-handedly checked out of the library: The Gift of a Tree by Alvin Tresselt and A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.
The Gift of a Tree by Alvin Tresselt tells the story of the life cycle of a tree, concentrating on what happens after the tree dies. (Incidentally, it was first published under the title The Dead Tree in 1971. Oh, the 70s, what a wonderful decade to be born into.) The tree becomes home to a variety of animals and insects, eventually decomposing and becoming fertile soil that nourishes the next generation of oaks. This little story connected the dots of so much that we have studied in grade 5. Starting way back in September with Ancient India, I gave Vincent the symbol of a circle representing the ideas of life, death and rebirth. We have touched on that symbol throughout the year, but this book let us really explore the idea of reincarnation/resurrection/rebirth in almost every block. This was one of those serendipitous moments where I fall in love with the Waldorf curriculum all over again.
- The Gift of a Tree, Alvin Tresselt
- Keepers of Life: Discovering Plants through Native American Stories and Earth Activities for Children, Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac
- Seed, Leaf, Flower, Fruit, Maryjo Koch
- A Seed is Sleepy, Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
- The Mary Frances Garden Book, Jane Eayre Fryer
- Botany, Charles Kovacs
- Field Trip to the local botanical gardens
- Bark Rubbings
- Botanical scavenger hunt
- Botanical mobile using items found on scavenger hunt
- Kitchen seed exploration and collage of seeds found
- Forced cherry branches inside