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Parts of Wonder produces wonderful activities designed for the Montessori community. This particular activity here consists of a laminated drawing of a leaf with labeled parts. This master can be used for a variety of activities. Children can look at the master and try and pair another set of laminated labels with an unlabeled master. This teaches word identification/matching along with familiarity of the parts that make up a leaf. There is also an unlaminated, uncolored picture of a leaf and sheet of labels. Those can be copied so that children can cut up the labels and glue them to pictures of the leaf. Descriptions of the various functions of individual parts of the leaf are also included.

Since the leaf activity is a little more advanced that the mushroom activity that we purchased from the same vendor, I brought in actual leaves so that we could compare real leaves with the drawing.

Montessori Leaf Activity from Parts of Wonder

Montessori Leaf Activity from Parts of Wonder

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This past weekend, we decided to pack up our mushroom books and other learning tools. Early on Saturday morning, my son went outside to work on a garden stones craft project, and he hurried back in side to point out that an amazing array of earthstar mushrooms had cropped up all along the walkway outside our building. I imagined this bumper crop was due to the heavy rains and went outside to take photos. While we were all outside, we were surprised to find another crop of puffballs. This was truly a surprise. Later in the day, we then found a huge polyphor hugging an old tree stump in the city park. All in all, it was a great way to end our month on mushroom studies. This amazing diversity of mushrooms was something the little guy had only read about in books heretofore.

Earthstar Mushrooms

Earthstar Mushrooms

Picture Books
Mushroom in the Rain
Theodore and the Talking Mushroom

Fiction
Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet

Coloring Books
Mushrooms of the World with Pictures to Color

Non-Fiction
Katya’s Book of Mushrooms
Our Living World – Fungi
World Treasury of Mushrooms in Color

We’ve been buying a lot of educational toys from the www.etsy.com Website. We love toys produced by mamaroots and mamakopp. However, we’ve also discovered the joy of creating our own toys. This is beneficial because it let’s us tailor our toys in such a way to reinforce very specific lessons that we want to persist from our Focus Month, once that month is over.

Mushroom Month will be long gone in a few, short days, and we want all the hard work that we put into teaching facts about mushrooms to last for a long time. To that end, we designed a board game around Elizabeth Cameron’s Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet book to provide a fun framework around which to build an educational game to preserve our scientific facts about mushrooms. My son looks forward to playing the game everyday, and it’s working wonderfully.

Homemade Mushroom Planet Game

Homemade Mushroom Planet Game

Space is limited in our loft-style condo. We spend most of our time working on the floor. It gives us freedom of movement, and it’s much more comfortable than sitting in confining chairs.

August Workspace (Mushrooms)

August Workspace (Mushrooms)

We have the Waldorf nature table with all of the animals and nature objects. We also have a second “Focus Table” that highlights the subject matter that we will be tackling for a month. Our focus table is currently space in a desk’s wall unit. The topic for this month, as stated earlier is mushrooms. Soon, the mushrooms will be cleared out and the way will be made for leaves and trees in our celebration and exploration of the effects of Autumn on these entities.

August Focus Table (Mushrooms)

August Focus Table (Mushrooms)

My son and I have been easing into homeschooling for the past several months. Initially, we started purchased a few, sparse, inexpensive curricula, and plunged in. We started off in April and progressed on to may with very few ideas. We had a few songs and stories and craft ideas but nothing to really inspire or guide us. That changed when we purchased both the Live Education and Earthschooling curricula. The Earthschooling curriculum gave us the breadth of content we needed, and Live Education gave us the structure we needed. Further exposure to and experimentation with teaching methods brought about a further innovation: Focus Months. After a summer of experimentation, we finally settled on our homeschooling style and are implementing it with great success!

My son is four, and we are Waldorf and Montessori-based, so our initial lessons are all focused around general nature, weather, the seasons, and animal life cycles. We employ the typical Waldorf verses, circle time, story telling, puppet shows, nature walks, and so forth. However, having scene a “Focus Table” in another homeschooler’s blog, we have added a focus topic for each month. This month was mushrooms, and my son fell in love with them immediately. We’re studying everything about mushrooms from biology and ecology to representations of mushrooms and mushroom themes in popular fiction. The constant focus on mushrooms through stories, coloring, puzzles, and other activities has really ensured that my son has learned and retained the most knowledge that he possibly can on the subject. As we move on to leaves and trees during the next month, we will persist his mushroom knowledge using a custom game based on a classic, fictional story about mushrooms; Elizabeth Cameron’s “Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet.”