Monday, January 7, 2008

Practical Life + Botany = Seasonal Potpourri

Orange peel scissoring tray in Practical Life

Potpourri Sachet Tray on one of the Botany shelves

I was inspired by the Dec 12, 2007 post on the Montessori Mama blog titled, "Seasonal Scissor Fun." I thought her pictures of the work were so lovely. Also, every year there is a shortage of flowers during the New England winter months in my classroom. So using evergreen boughs, dried orange peels and cloves instead of dried flowers for potpourri seemed a seasonal solution. Inviting into the classroom this collection of scents was also attractive. Last week I put out orange peel cutting. The children loved it. I would catch them snipping and smelling the small slivers that they scissored. I placed a canning jar besides the work with its lid propped open. After a child cut several peels down to rather small segments and had collected these in a small bowl, they poured them into this jar to await the completion of another material. Evergreen bough scissoring.

I carefully copied the constructed tray posted on Montessori Mama's blog. I added a small basket to the tray for the remaining pieces of Evergreen bough stems. They emptied these into the trash but could compost them. This afternoon I watched a young child trim the needles from a small branch. Again, she stopped now and then just to smell the scent. The cut needles were gathered in a small bowl like the orange peels and placed in a second canning jar.

Evergreen bough scissoring
also in Practical Life

The child had now completed both orange peel and Evergreen scissoring. They got up and left the Practical Life area and walked over to the Botany materials selected the tray for making potpourri sachets. This work has many steps.

Practical Life Shelves

Botany Shelves

After removing each of the items from the tray onto a Practical Life table and returning the potpourri sachet tray to its shelf, the child took both the orange peel jar and Evergreen needles jar and placed them on the same table. Next, they scooped some of both of these prepared items and placed them into the wooden mortar. They added five cloves which they counted by placing one on each petal of a small flower plate. Next, they used the pistil to grind the materials together. After a few minutes, they opened and placed face down a pre-cut circle shaped piece of fabric. They also cut a length of ribbon. After spooning the ground ingredients into the center of the fabric circle, the child gather the edges of the fabric up into a cluster, the potpourri a ball in the base of the sachet. The child then twisted the fabric to hold all of its contents together and used a clothespin to hold it closed, while tying a colorful ribbon around it and securing the captured orange peels, needles and cloves. All was then cleaned up and returned to the appropriate shelves. Oh and do these winter potpourri sachets smell good...

What is also great about this work is that it moves the child from one area of the environment to another and back. It links two areas of the classroom together via the completion of a singular material. Also the work gives testimony to the students that certain scents are more dominant during different seasons of the year. We eat so many Clementine oranges in my home during the winter months that providing the orange peel for the classroom shelf was quite simple. My assistant's left over Christmas tree provided ample boughs of pine needles for scissoring. As with most of the Practical Life materials, the most challenging task was putting a color coded tray together for the various work. In a school which was to be named by Maria Montessori as Sensorial Education, the coupling of Practical life with the aroma of a winter day seems perfect.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

We did this today and it was a big hit. Oh, they smell so good! I wrote it up at my blog if you want to check it out.
Thanks for all the inspiration!