The next lesson in our Montessori botany series is dedicated to flowers. The subject of countless poems and stories the world over flowers have been admired since the dawn of man. They enchant with their beauty, sweet fragrance, and vibrant colors. They help make nature a prismatic bliss to the senses. No lesson on botany would be complete without them.
A need for reproduction has made their evolution a wonder of nature. The most striking examples have radiant colors and delicious aroma, which attract animals, or pollinators, and ensure their survival.
Taking your child into nature or a botanical garden is a great warm-up for this lesson
By the end of this article, you will be prepared to offer a complete botany homeschool or classroom lesson. One which delves into a plethora of activities, such as the parts of the flower, flower identification, and flower arranging. Enjoy!
Parts of a Flower
Though a variety of flowers exist, most are hermaphrodites containing both male and female reproductive parts. There are two main parts to these flowers: the perianth, which is the outer part made up of the sepals and petals, and the reproductive part.
The male part, or stamen, is made up of anthers and filaments. And the female part, or pistil, contains the stigma, style, ovary, and ovule.
The flower is connected to the plant via the receptacle and the stem or peduncle.
The often brightly-colored part of a flower, they serve to protect the sensitive reproductive system and attract pollinators. They only open when the flower is mature and ready to reproduce. Some flowers also close the petals at night for protection against the cold.
When flower buds develop the sepals protect them, like the shuck of a corncob. They are leafy and green.
This is the male part of the flower which consists of the anthers and filaments together. There are usually many of these within a reproductive system depending on the species.
The most important part of the flower, this is where the pollen is produced and picked up by nectar-thirsty creatures for pollination.
The stalk that holds the anthers, they protrude enough to ensure the pollen is easily picked up by the animals.
Containing the stigma, style, ovary, and ovule, this is the female part of the reproductive system.
Pollen germinates in this part of the pistil after pollination.
After pollination, the style becomes a tube and allows for the fertilization of the ovule by transporting the pollen to it.
Housing the ovules the ovary is in the base of the pistil.
They’re located in the ovary sac of the pistil. After pollination, the fruit is formed and the ovules become the seeds. These seeds are then responsible for making more plants.
The part of the stem which connects to the flower.
The Stem (or peduncle)
This is the stalk of the flower, which connects to the receptacle.
This section of the lesson is designed to build on your child’s newly acquired knowledge of the parts of the flower. In fact, the identification of flowers activity is one they can enjoy in various forms.
You can go to a botanical garden, go wildflower hunting in Mother Nature or simply visit your local flower shop and practice Montessori flower arranging with the purchase of some favorite flowers.
Starting with the names of some popular flowers, like those in the Safari Flower Toob, is a perfect introduction to the lesson. First, download our free Types of Flowers printable, or purchase the laminated set from our shop. These flowers correspond to the Safari set and are designed for the identification of the flowers.
If you’re not familiar with 3-part cards, have a look at this article first. It explains in detail the steps you will take when going through the process. Below are some useful information and fun facts to get the kiddos excited about the flowers they’re studying.
With a life-span of about two years and over 300 types of species, the most famous of all flowers is certainly the rose. They have a unique strong scent and a broad range of colors and cultivars. Most originate from Asia but some come from Europe, North and South America, and Northwest Africa.
Holland’s most famous export (after its cheese), the tulip is native to Eastern Europe and central Asia. They were so valuable in the middle ages that the Dutch used them as currency. They were worth even more than gold during a frenzy of tulip mania in the 17th century.
Renowned for their colorful showy flowers, hibiscus are the hallmark of tropical paradise. They are quite often cultivated as ornamental plants but are also quite delicious as an herbal tea.
Bird of Paradise
Resembling a crane with its long beak and plumage, this uniquely shaped and brilliantly-colored flower originates from South Africa. It has long been a favorite of florists the world over because of its exotic enhancement to any bouquet.
A Spanish favorite, this multi-layered trumpet-shaped flower is native to the Mediterranean area. With more than 50 species it is a flower whose beauty is rarely matched and is symbolic of friendship in many cultures.
Thought to originate in the Americas, the sunflower is one of the largest flowers on the planet. It can reach up to a meter (3 feet) in diameter and 7.5 meters (25 feet) in height. Its face follows the sun as it crosses the sky and is a favorite for its delicious seeds.
Also known as the water lotus, this beautiful flower can grow both in water, such as in a pond or in the mud. Its roots require a nutrient-rich soil to germinate. Originating from central India and Indochina it symbolizes purity of mind, speech, and body in Buddhism.
With over 30,000 species, Orchidaceae is one of the largest families of a flowering plant. It’s also one of the most fascinating flowers in existence. A favorite of breeders for its beauty and lengthy blooming cycle, some examples can fetch more than $100,000 in flower auctions.
Being the sex organs of a plant they are responsible for the reproduction of the plant. Fertilization takes place in the pistil after the semen, housed in the pollen is transferred from a different flower.
Many flowers are self-pollinating but most require outside help for the job. This can be done in a plethora of manners: wind, larger animals like birds, bats and pygmy possums can be implemented as carriers after contact with the flower.
But the greatest and most efficient carriers are insects, like butterflies, wasps, and honeybees, bees being the most prevalent.
What’s happening with the honeybees?
Bees are in grave danger and have been reducing in numbers for the last couple of decades. According to the Sierra Club, the honeybees are dying because of many factors: Pathogens, parasites, poor nutrition, loss of habitat and pesticides.
Pesticides have contributed greatly to what is referred to as colony collapse
They are used industrially on crops like canola and corn and disorient the bees and contribute to memory loss.
But there is something we can do about it, especially if you live in a city. Plant a garden! Give the bees and other insects pesticide-free sources of nectar and you can participate in saving the bees. Without the bees, we will be in serious trouble.
With this activity, we cover a lot of Montessori foundations: practical life, fine motor skills and creating a beautiful environment within the home. These skills encourage independence, concentration, and coordination and give your children the chance to work together as a team.
Our kids really love it for the hands-on crafty nature of it. They are 3 and a half and 5 so it’s really an activity for pre-k and older toddlers. They will need to pour water from heavy pitchers and cut with sharp tools so be extra attentive with this activity.
- Uncut flowers (with thin stems)
- A variety of vases (sizes and shapes)
- A tray
- A mat
- A smock
- A funnel (for smaller children)
- A water pitcher
- A bowl
- A hand towel
Go shopping or to the garden. Have your child pick out their favorite flowers so they feel like a part of the decision process. This will get them even more excited about arranging.
Put on smocks, fill the pitcher with water and set up all your material. Put the flowers next to each other, untangled. Explain what each item is and what it’s for. Use this as an opportunity to expand vocabulary on botany and practical life tools. (This is a pitcher, it’s for pouring water…)
Make sure they know that scissors can be dangerous and that if they spill water to clean as they go.
Demonstrate how to pull the leaves off of the stems and put them in the bowl with just one and let them do the rest. Make sure they lay each flower back down next to each other, not one on top of the other.
They should take the vase, or choose one if you have multiple, then either fill it directly or with a funnel if they’re little.
Depending on the size of the vase, they then choose some flowers and size up the length they want and cut with the scissors. All stems should be put into the bowl as well.
If they want to arrange a variety of flowers or put some filler, they should cut some shorter than others for better visualization of each flower.
Taller flowers go in the back, shorter in front.
Repeat this with every vase. Let them get creative here. Mixing colors and types can seem awkward but they should decide how they look in the end. Be sure to demonstrate how to hold the vase by the neck when inserting each flower.
They should find a nice spot in the house to put the flowers. Use a doilie or mat for water spills.
They should clean up any water spilt, throw out cuttings and leaves, dry the scissors and mat and put everything away where they got it from.
Talking them through the whole process one time is great preparation. Having them do it themselves afterward is the way we check for understanding and attention. Only make corrections if you see they have trouble remembering certain steps.
Arranging flowers is a wonderful follow-up lesson after having learned the parts and types of flowers. Their creations can beautify any house or be given as a gift to grandma or any friend. Watch the kid’s face light up when they see how happy their work has made a loved-one.
Below is a video from Living Montessori Now and shows a very autonomous little girl following many of the steps and is absolutely adorable.