Lockdown Day 22 – Knowledge and Understanding of the World
With autumn well underway, this is the perfect time of year to observe our gardens and the changes that are occurring with the turn of the season.
Dr. Maria Montessori was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her work in Peace Education was ground-breaking at the time and continues to inspire us today. She charged us as the adults with helping the child to realise and understand her/his COSMIC TASK.
Simply put, we need to provide the child with opportunities to understand her/his importance in the world and the contribution s/he can make to caring for our planet. Once the child realises that s/he has a relationship with the Earth and all living things on the Earth, s/he will be more in tune with her/his cosmic task of preserving our planet for future generations.
Let us start this journey by investigating one of our planets most important life forms.
You will need:
- A tree
Ideally go outside and observe the tree. What do you see? Discuss the leaves, branches, trunk and even the roots. Use this as an opportunity to emphasise the correct terminology.
Observe closely – do you see any living creature in or around the tree? (Birds, ants, butterflies etc.)
Feel the leaves – what do you notice? If the tree is losing its leaves, feel the difference between the different colours of leaves – the greenish-yellow leaves may still be soft, while the brown leaves just about to fall may be brittle and hard.
Feel the bark – is it rough or smooth?
Talk about the fact that trees give us oxygen. They take in or absorb the air we breathe out, which is called carbon dioxide and have the ability to change that into oxygen which we need to breathe in. (You will need to tailor this explanation for the children depending on their age and stage. Older children can go into the Story of Photosynthesis…but that’s a Montessori lesson for another time!) This is how s/he begins to realise her/his relationship to the tree.
Continue to build an understanding of this relationship. Consider some other kinds of trees. An apple tree, for example…what does it give us? Apples! We can make apple juice and apple sauce from those apples.
Extend the understanding of this relationship to our role (as humans) in looking after our environment so that trees can grow and provide us with oxygen and food.
Caution – these kinds of discussions often take unexpected turns. The child may, for example, realise that trees also give us wood, and that we would need to chop the tree down to get the wood that we burn in our fireplaces during winter. Be ready for these conversations and steer the child to understanding sustainability and careful use of our Earth’s resources.
This interaction will develop your child’s:
- Powers of observation
- Vocabulary extension
- Understanding of her/his cosmic task
- Conversation skills
Most of all… this activity will allow you to spend time in nature with your child!