Thursday, June 26, 2014

Arranging flowers in pk/k: Care for the environment in the primary classroom

Every aspect was arranged so that it could be a complete set. The scissors must be sharp. The stem of the flower must be cut under water, so that the flowers will last longer. The bowl can be any bowl, but the slanted bowl is useful for this purpose.

The children will enjoy learning the names of the flowers. We must also be selective of flowers with thinner, softer stems (like tulips), so that children can cut and manipulate them. Make sure that parents who are sending in flowers, so that they send a variety of flowers (not just carnations). Roses will be very hard to cut. With strength, some children will gain the capacity to cut the more challenging flowers, but plan the presentations with the easier flowers, for beginners. 

Have a cloth available for spills, color coordinated with the theme—perhaps green.

Have a variety of vases to give the children more opportunities for choices.

The direct aim is functional independence with relation to care of the environment. It also gives the opportunity for the development of the aesthetic sense. The child will ask, perhaps for the first time, “What looks beautiful to me?”

The indirect aim is the consolidation of the coordination of movements. Do I want a big flower here? Do I want a little flower? Does it all fit in the vase? Does it balance in the vase? It is given after about age 4 ½, because it requires fine motor skills and more refined visual motor skills. The pinching and use of the scissors is the use of fine motor and manual dexterity.

As a point of interest, looking at the heights of the flowers, comparatively fascinates children. They enjoy cutting the stems in the water. The variety of flowers in the pleasing arrangement is also a point of interest. As the children’s perception of beauty grows, their flower arrangements will become more sophisticated.

There is pre-preparation required on the part of the teacher to cut the bigger stems down to smaller pieces for the children to further cut down. It has to be initially manageable.

As an element of follow-up work, show the children to change the water each day. Show the children how to check the arrangement regularly to remove fallen and spent flowers from the arrangements. AT the end of the week, show the children how to put all the flowers in the compost, then wash and rinse the vases. Or, you can show the children how to save certain flowers for collage or sweeping practice. It shows them that cutting the flowers is not the final end of the activity; it shows stewardship of the environment.

As an extension, you could conduct a language activity regarding the kinds of flowers to use in flower arranging. 

Jeannot Jonte Boucher is a Montessori educator and parent in Dallas, Texas. 

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