Back Yard Botany

Simple Beginnings

Extemporaneous teaching:
Carefully planned formal lessons work well in a school environment, but are difficult to schedule at home.  Rather, be spontaneous, be an opportunist.  Be prepared to take advantage of a fleeting "teachable moment", a spark of interest which may be fanned into a glow of learning.  That the time and situation may not allow for the completion of a particular lesson is not important.  The more sparks fanned, the more likely they are to kindle a life long curiosity and a burning desire desire to learn.

Examples of extemporaneous teaching:
1.  In the yard when you have the child's attention, as in conversation;
"Look at this pretty rose.  What color is it?" ...
"Can you find a flower with a different color?" ...   ..."Good.  And what color is that pansy?"

Using the names of the plants you are speaking about whenever possible will increase the interest level even if the child doesn't remember all of them.  It is also important, when appropriate, to say, "I don't know a name for that plant."

2.  "That is a pretty leaf you found." ...  ..."Can you find a leaf with a different shape?" ...  "Can you figure out which tree that leaf came from?  How do you know?"

Any kind of plant can sometimes be a weed, but no plant is "just a weed".

3.  Children often enjoy being helpful (unless ordered to help).  And, it is important to let them help, even though it is faster and easier to do it yourself.
"Plants that look like this one are the plants we want to grow here, we don't disturb them.  These others are plants we don't want here, they are weeds, and we dig them out.  Can you dig out the weeds without disturbing the others?"

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