One of my favorite areas in the Montessori method of learning is the presentation of Botany lessons to my class. It is my utmost desire to present a unit of study with passion and detail. I love nature so much and to show this, I prepare and collect nature objects such as leaves, piece of wood, bark, acorn, rock or stones, flowers, seashells and more!
One time, while doing my grocery shopping, I found a beautiful pine cone under a tree. It looks perfect for another nature collection. I clean it at home and carefully arrange together with my other findings in our nature table. Below you can find a guide and detail explanation about Nature Table or Tray and also the steps how to set it up for your Montessori home or school.
“For a long time, it was thought that nature had only a moral influence on the education of the child. Efforts were made to develop a sensible response to the marvels of nature, to flowers, plants, animals, landscapes, winds, and light.”
*This blog contains affiliate links that we enjoy using in our homeschool journey (see my disclosure policy.)
Dr. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
What is Nature Table?
The Nature Table is a special table, tray or place in the classroom. This is where we introduce an item of special interest to the children. The presentations or discussions are usually done in a small group.
Ways and How to use the Nature Table
- A low table or a tray that can be placed low for observation and then placed up on a shelf for storage.
- Each time we use the table, we clear off the previous material and get the same table ready for the next presentation.
- A nice “scene” featuring the item of “focus”.
- A cloth or background that gives the item a context.
- An observation “tool” like a magnifying glass.
- A card and pencil to record what you see.
“A child, who more than anyone else is a spontaneous observer of nature, certainly needs to have at his disposal material upon which he can work.” Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
Topics for the Nature Table
- Introducing fish, frog, reptile, bird or mammal
- Introducing plant, root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit or seeds.
- Landform, landmark, or place you are studying.
- A holiday celebration (Diwali)
Tips for the Nature Table
- Make it child-centered
- Simple and clear concepts
She’s putting the pebbles inside the coconut shell. In her age at thirteen month, I take a very close supervision due to small parts that poses a choking hazard. This activity is best for 3-6 years of age.
Importance of Botany in a Classroom
A Montessori classroom should be rich in botanical specimens. But with the introduction of plants into the classroom comes the practical lifecare of those plants. The cosmic notion of the interrelationship of all living organisms demands that top priority is given horticulture or the care of plants.
- A Montessori classroom void of plants reflects that degree of non-participation in the process of life.
- A Montessori classroom with plants which are cared for by the adult reflects the isolation of the child from the nurturing process of life.
- A Montessori classroom with plants cared for by the children represents the quintessence of the cosmic vision in the Montessori classroom.
- The child in harmony with nature and as a helper to nature.
Books and References: