Grade 5 Botany

During recent weeks the two Grade 5 boys have spent much time  drawing, sketching, painting, planting and caring for plants as part of their Botany block. Today as a conclusion to this block they took off into the neighbourhood to search for the native desert plants that grow wildly in the sandy empty lots around their school and further afield out in the desert. These areas can, to the casual observer, seem like empty wastelands but as the boys soon proved, they are actually teeming with life and growth. Amazingly a vast number of over 600 species of native plants grow naturally in this arid middle eastern region where we live and work.
The boys went off laden with pictures of native plants to look for and the inevitable large water bottle, hats and as they later confided in me "rations"!
They appeared back almost 2 hours later, red in the faces, completely chuffed to bits with numerous little bags filled with their precious finds.
Having laid everything out for close inspection, they set about the enjoyable task of recording their finds through careful drawings in their main lesson books. (Ideally they would sketch and draw the plants in their natural habitat, but summer temperatures do not allow for that!)
Having completed the first two parts of the '3 fold learning process', 1. finding-collecting-doing-willing and 2. drawing-feeling, they will go on to 3. thinking - learning about how it is possible for plants of any kind to survive in such harsh conditions, the different parts of the desert where the plants grow, how characteristics of these plants compare and contrast to the more conventional plant families that they have already learned about in previous weeks. They will also spend time drawing, reading about and hearing stories of The Ghaf Tree which has long been embedded in UAE culture and tradition.

Class 5.....This is the time of relative calm of puberty before the storm of adolescence. Elegance and harmony are visible in the children's running and gymnastics. It is an appropriate time for the study of plants, whose growth and movement has a quiet beauty of form, gesture and colour. Feelings of respect, gratitude and interest need to permeate this main-lesson and deepen the children's sensitivity for the earth as a living organism. 
The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum, Edited by Martyn Rawson and Tobias Richter.

Sketching the Calotropis procera (see below), a very common, but beautiful desert plant.