Fifth Grade Botany

I didn’t expect studying botany with my fifth grader would change my world view of plants and their place in nature in so many ways, but it did.  This was a block full of “a-ha” for me and my child too.

We used these resources, including:

  • All of the nature right outside our door and in the fields and lakes around us
  • Our garden in our old house before we moved and planting things in pots in our new house
  • Botany by Charles Kovacs
  • Botany by Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources
  • This post, by guest poster and veteran Waldorf homeschooler Lauri Bolland:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/19/guest-post-botany-in-the-waldorf-inspired-homeschool/
  • This Pinterest board:  http://pinterest.com/queenslace/5th-waldorf-botany-block/
  • Drawing From the Book of Nature
  • Botany by Live Education!
  • Eric Fairman’s A Path of Discovery Fifth Grade
  • A really old copy of Botany:  A Golden Science Guide by Golden Press (pictures to draw; also the biome map in there I am planning on using in sixth grade as an introduction and weaving that into mineralogy).
  • Jakob Streit’s books about bees – one is for free on the Waldorf Library website
  • Oddly, a whole section about plants and botany in an unexpected and unrelated resource:  Complete Healing by Michael Evans, MD and Iain Rodger.  This is a book about anthroposophic medicine but was helpful for my own understanding and will relate plants to nutrition in future grades
  • “Girls Who Looked Under Rocks” , the story of six pioneering female naturalists, was a mainstay for biographies during this block.  Recommended by Meredith over at A Waldorf Journey in her Botany block: http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/   Readily available through Amazon.
  • The Herbal Roots ezine was also helpful.
  • We studied the biographies of Julia Hill and Luna the Redwood, George Washington Carver, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and the contributions these founding fathers made to agriculture in the United States.  Try the picture book “Farmer George Plants  A Nation” for a good one about George Washington and Mount Vernon.

Here is what I think the broad theme of botany is for  a fifth grader:

  • How the six (seven if you include bacteria and note scientists now consider this a separate kingdom and not part of the plant kingdom anymore) broad plant families relate to the development of the child and the human being…Remember that in Waldorf Education, we always seek to bring a subject back to the human being and the child him or herself.
  • How  the plants relate as intermediaries between the earth and the sun and the stars
  • How the life cycle of the butterfly is intertwined with that of the plant

There are wonderful activities and observations to do with plants, and many other blogs list these types of activities, but here are a few of the artistic things we did:

  • We did a lot of observation out in the fields and woods just drawing and sketching and being outside.  In our artistic drawings we especially practiced hatching, a type of drawing often used in Waldorf Schools starting in the fourth grade or so.  We also practiced using negative space in our drawings.
  • We made clay models of a fern unfolding and beeswax models of flowers
  • We memorized and recited poetry with movement
  • We did wet on wet paintings of flowers in particular
  • We made paper flowers
  • We worked with copper rods to a poem by Goethe I found in Eric Fairman’s Path of Discovery

This is a wonderful block.

Many blessings,
Carrie

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5 thoughts on “Fifth Grade Botany

  1. Thanks so much, Carrie! Plants are one of my favorite things in life, and now I am especially looking forward to this block for next year. Thanks for all of your giving. I hope you feel deeply appreciated for all that you give here… and happy mother’s day too!

  2. Hi Carrie,

    Thank you. I look forward to doing this block some day… Your comment about the butterfly life cycle being intertwined with plant made me think of this Steiner verse:
    ‘Behold the plant!
    It is the butterfly
    Bound fast the earth,
    Behold the butterfly!
    It is the plant
    Set free by the universe!

    Kind regards,
    Fayrooz

  3. Thanks Carrie. I’m looking forward to Botany, and I think I’ll check out some of the books you list in advance… so I can mull it all over :)

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