Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nature Study: The Morning Glory

As we have been using our work-plans the last couple of months. I have noticed one area that both Mustang and Charger have avoided like the plague. And that is, the biology lessons. Evidently, I have not been able to capture the right spirit that Dr. Montessori intended for the use of her materials for the study of plants.

I began brainstorming on how to change this direction and decided that-for now-we were going to add The Handbook of Nature Studies to our learning. I know that we will have to revisit the 3 part cards, definitions, and puzzles, but for right this moment I want to change our focus to seeing, touching, and learning about the plants outside our home.

The first plant we are focusing on is the Morning Glory. This lesson was specifically for Mustang since she is the one interested in flowers right now. When we planted our garden she really, really, wanted these to be planted in the garden. She chose the seeds, planted them, weeded them, and cared for them. It seemed only fitting to start with her plant. This lesson was taken directly from The Handbook of Nature Study, which can downloaded for free here. There isn't a specific lesson for the Morning Glory, so we altered the study of the Hedge Bindweed (the Morning Glory's weed counter-part).

Observation Questions (from the Handbook of Nature Study Lesson 137  pages 518-520)


1.  How does the Morning Glory get support, so that it's leaves and it's flowers may spread out and get sunshine?
We were very blessed that my MIL anticipated the growth of our Morning Glories (I had no clue) and brought over this tomato cage.  It has kept it from overtaking the rest of the garden.  So, in our case, it has climbed the cage.

Why does its own stem not support it?  What would happen to a plant with such a week stem if it did not twine upon other objects?  Well, here we got to talk about the parts of the plant!  She found the 'stem' which-in this case-is very weak all by itself.

2.  How does it climb upon other plants?  Does its stem always wind or twist the same direction?  As you can see in the photos below, yes it does.  It always twists clockwise.

How does it first catch hold of the other plant?  If the supporting object is firm, does it wind  as often for a given space as when it has a frail support?  Can you see the reason for this?  You can see mild winding above.  This is at the top of the tomato cage where it already has a lot of support.  When it first finds a plant, it winds REALLY tight.  I don't have a photo of that.

Look at the leaves.  Sketch one to be sure that you see its beautiful form and veins. 

Note if the leaves are arranged alternately on the stem, and then observe why and how they seem to come from one side of the stem.  Why do they do this?  We think they come from one side and then the other, alternating, but not everyone, sometimes it's every two.  This was a tough question!

4.  What is there peculiar about the flower bud?  Look at its stalk carefully and describe it.  Cut it across and look at the end with a lens and describe it.  (we did not do this part, maybe in the future we will bring our lens).  Turn back two sepal-like bracts at the base of the flower or bud.  Are they part of the flower, or are they below it? (below it) Find the true sepals.  How many are there? (we think four) Are they the same size?  (no)

5.  Examine the flower in blossom.  (they only bloom in the morning-hence the name!)  What is its shape?  Describe its many colors.  

Look down into it.  How many stamens are there and how are they set in the flower?  How does the pistil look when it first opens?  Later?  (We have not been able to observe it as it opens, we would like to catch it!)  Can you see the color of the pollen? Can you find where the nectar is borne?  How many nectar wells are there?  

6.  What insects do you find visiting Bindweed flowers?  This was awesome.  Right as I asked the question, a bee climbed out of the bottom of the flower!  Do the flowers remain open at night or on dark days?

7.  Study the seed capsule.  How is it protected on the outside?  What next enfolds it?  Cut a seed capsule across with all its coverings, and see how it is protected.  How many seeds are there in the capsule.  (We didn't get a seed capsule, but this up close lets you see how many stamen the flower has).

Mustang LOVES her morning glory flowers :).

8.  Has the bindweed (Morning Glory) other methods of spreading then by seeds?  (Goodness, yes! It grows like crazy!)  Look at the roots and tell what you observe about them.  (We did not do a root study, Mustang would be very upset if I pulled them out.)

9.  Make a study of the plant on which the bindweed is climbing, and tell what has happened to it.  I didn't get a picture of it, but the poor carrot plant just next to it has its days numbered.  We have a TON of carrots, so I'm leaving it to let Mustang continue her observations.

10.  Compare the Bindweed and Morning Glory and notice the differences and resemblances.  Believe it or not, we don't have any Bindweed that we know of.  We need to keep looking!

This was a great study.  It wasn't that time consuming, it held Mustang's interest.  She got to look at all the parts of a flower (except for the root), and even started another exploration of her own.  When she picked a flower, the purple turned her hand purple.  So, now she is soaking the flower in water to see if it will change the color of the water (her own idea, and YES, it is changing the color.)

We all learned about the morning blooming (even my husband-who has his master's degree didn't know about that), and also learned we need to protect the rest of the garden from what could become a sort of weed!

Most of all, Mustang has a new appreciation for her already favorite flower, and knows a lot more about it!  I am really pleased with the choice to add nature studies to our learning, and am already planning a lot more. I would like to do a few and then see if the children begin trying to study things they are interested in on their own.

Do you do nature studies?  Do you feel they combine well with the Montessori Method?  I'd love to hear how you learn about nature in your home!!

Thanks for stopping by and God Bless!


Mommy to the Princesses said...

Thanks for sharing how you did this! Gives me ideas to incorporate the Handbook!

Ticia said...

Interesting our morning glories are a light pink.