Are you heading out to buy your tree this weekend? Going to make an adventure of it and cut your own? Want to sprinkle a little whimsical evergreen fairytale on the whole experience?
To start, you might acquaint yourselves with the Christmas Tree Fairy and her friend the Holly Fairy. For memory work, copy and learn her song. Then, take a closer look at coniferous trees and learn the botanical information we can glean from looking carefully at Christmas trees: Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Noble fir (Abies procera), and Norway spruce (Picea abies). Even if you have an artificial tree, it's fun to visit a Christmas tree farm to gather some boughs and cones in order to carefully draw and compare needles and cones.
We've had great success teaching basic botany with books like Pine Trees and Golden Field Guides. To focus on conifers, simply read the books with your child and then work your way through together, discussing the concepts, narrating, and drawing. Don't be tempted to leave out the "drawing" step--it really does enhance understanding and retention. For further study, botanical nomenclature cards are a good way to apply the Montessori three period lesson to botany study. These cards can also be used for drawing and labeling.
Despite the fact that allergies prescribe an aritificial tree in our home and despite the definite chill in the air, we plan to get out and touch and smell and draw and photograph! After all, we have the December pages of our Outdoor Nature Workbooks to thoughtfully complete.
Art: Using the illustration in Flower Fairies of the Winter or here, try your hand at sketching the Christmas Tree Fairy. Perhaps on another day you all can model the fairy or the Christmas Tree with modeling beeswax. (Sources of excellent quality modeling beeswax can be found here and here.) Carefully tie gold thread on the models and hang them in the boughs of your tree!
Ideas for Evergreen Reading:
Suggested Books for Read-Alouds and Narrations (These can be narrated both verbally and artistically. For the younger children it is often fun to keyboard an oral narration for them and then ask the child to illustrate the printed page.)