The Art of Plant Study Outside

9 March 2013 · 1 comment

in Gardening, Nature Play & Learning, Science Outdoors

One of the beautiful aspects of undertaking learning activities outside, is that interdisciplinary learning becomes the norm rather than the exception. It’s hard not to acquire more information and understanding about nature or our local environment when we spend time there. I also appreciate the interruptions which can often be a positive aspect of learning outdoors rather than the negative frustrations when stuck inside a classroom.

Anyway, as I have been spending a fair bit of time at Inverallochy School recently, I was rather struck by this series of photos of an outdoor activity that was intended to be both art and science combined.

According to Fallon Anderson, the P4/5 class teacher, the activity was completed spontaneously. It just struck her that this could happen outside. I like this kind of thinking. We need this sort of spontaneity as it can often be the start of something good.

In groups the children were challenged to recreate diagrams of plants. Not just any old quick put-together bit of work either. They had to make sure that each part of a plant was clearly represented.

And that the final product did indeed look like a plant. But more than this – it had to also function as a piece of art work too.

It is actually a very good way of getting children to learn about the different parts of a plant.

Is it possible to represent stigmas, ovaries, sepals, anthers, petals, styles, and filaments?

What about primary and lateral roots? How can these be given an artistic interpretation?

The additional challenge is deciding which loose parts can be used to represent the different parts of the plant.

Whilst the results may not be scientifically accurate, the learning accrued could be quite significant.

After all, with much knowledge-based activities, there is little opportunity to make it hands on.

I have to say, this activity beats a worksheet hands down every day!

It’s a more open-ended approach but with the same objective in mind.

It is a good example of how to use the outdoors in a creative way to learn knowledge.

For those of you who have copies of Joseph Cornell’s books, there is a lovely activity in one of them about dramatising the the functions of different parts of a tree. This could easily be adapted as a suitable follow on to this lesson, as the children would easily come up with suitable ideas and actions for the parts of the plant.

Many thanks to Inverallochy School for sharing the photos. Another great idea well worth sharing! Leonardo Da Vinci would have been delighted, I’m sure!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lynda@kidsinthegarden March 10, 2013 at 21:54

I just love this post and the models the children made. I’ll bet they will never forget this lesson. This is now on my list of outdoor activties to do with my son


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