“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”Dr. Maria Montessori
Young children are fascinated by the world around them. They are fascinated by nature and wish to understand how the world works. We can foster this interest by studying biology – the study of living things.
Our real world is filled with fascinating mysteries that are just waiting for us to discover them!
The Study of Biology
The study of biology within the Montessori classroom can be divided into two categories: the study of plants and animals. (In my training, we discussed that one could even add fungi or the study of human beings here.)
One of the ways that we can introduce different plants and animals to our children is by studying their life cycles.
Start with your environment
It is important to begin by studying the world around you for a young child (up to 6 years old). Start by introducing plants and animals in the children’s own environment – plants and animals that are naturally found in your area rather than plants and animals that children are not likely to see in outside.
To really foster this passion and interest in living things, why not bring some plants and small pets into your learning environment? During appropriate times of the year, you can grow plants from seed in your home garden! If you do not have an outdoor garden space, keep a small pot near a window.
Showing real life examples by keeping plants and small animals in your environment keeps the work more tangible for the young child. Especially for children under six years old, it is important to keep (the majority of) their work grounded in reality.
You can connect life cycle studies to plants and animals in your area by going on a nature walk. Stop with your little ones to observe a snail or a group of ants marching diligently. Later, you can come back to your classroom and discuss the life cycle of an ant. Maybe the child wishes to make a mini-environment using craft materials you have on hand? Or why not use ant miniatures to create a life cycle study?
And even later, you can open up a whole new world of exploration by showing children that there are many different types of ants!
And these ants live in different areas of the world! Wow!
Biomes and Habitats
For older children or elementary aged students, you could introduce the different life cycles based on their biomes and natural habitats. Present different life cycles and discuss the similarities and differences between the environments of the plants/animals you are studying.
Cosmic Education – Discussion
You can discuss how animals and plants have different needs based on their own natural habitats. They have evolved over time to survive in these environments.
Ask the children to think about: Why? How?
- Why do fish have scales?
- Why do crocodiles have legs? Why don’t snakes have legs?
- What are the differences between the saguaro cactus and a cherry tree?
- Why does a bear have fur, but a fish has scales? What purpose do these coverings serve?
For example, polar bears and penguins have blubber that helps them to keep warm in their cold habitats. Camels on the other hand have long eyelashes that help them to keep sand out of their eyes!
Isn’t biology fascinating?!
HOKA Club Library
Please note: If you are a HOKA Club member, you have access to our Life Cycle Library.
You can learn more about the HOKA Club here.