Small sponge (This one must be kept only for washing leaves of potted
plants when necessary. A dirty or greasy sponge would do harm.)
A book on the care of house plants
Children are shown how to water potted plants. They are also shown
how to cut off dead flowers and leaves. The length of daylight required
by each plant must be discussed and understood. The amount of direct light
or sunlight or shade can be discussed. The food required by each plant
can be discussed and provided under supervision. Drinkable foods must be
kept locked and used only under supervision.
Plants grown for their greenery need to have the dust carefully wiped
from the leaves with a damp sponge occasionally. With 6-9-year-olds, a
child might take over the care of one plant for a period of time.
The instructions for the care of a plant are usually provided by the
nursery selling the plant. These can be read to the children and referred
to as necessary. A simple book on the care of house plants should be kept
in the book corner and referred to by the children and the teacher.
Do not have too many plants in the classroom. It is interesting to
watch and care for one or two. If there are too many, the children lose
interest or the work of caring for so many becomes burdensome. A room with
too many plants becomes cluttered. If there are too many things in a room,
the children are restless. It is difficult to concentrate with too many
A variety of vases in different sizes and shapes should be kept in
the classroom. One or two small, shallow containers will be needed as children
sometimes snip the flower stalk until only the flower is left. When this
happens, the flowers can be turned into a floating arrangement.
It is hoped the school can grow flowers with the children. If there
is no garden, a long planter box can be used. Children should be taught
how to cut flowers for flower arrangements. They are shown how to cut a
flower with a reasonable length of stem without including buds, as these
need to be left on the plant to bloom later. For example, roses should
be cut with a slanting cut about 1/2" above a bud that points out
of the bush. In this way, the correct shape of the bush is maintained.
Suitable flower vase
The child covers the table with newspaper and fills the vase nearly
full of water. The teacher shows the child how to stripe the leaves off
that part of the stem that will go into the water. (If the leaves go into
the water, they will rot and the flowers will soon die.)
The teacher shows the child how to snip one very small piece off each
flower stalk and place the flowers in the vase in a pleasing way. The teacher
leaves the child to finish and clear away any pieces. These will be put
in the compost heap.
Very little children are inclined to snip pieces off the stalk until
only a flower head is left. This can be floated in a shallow dish. Another
lesson can be given another day, stressing the fact that only one piece
is snipped off the end of the stem.
Children learn to care for the flowers, checking the water level in
each vase daily and to give water to plants as necessary. They learn the
right amount to give to each plant, as over-watering does harm. Potted
plants are sold with instructions on their care. These can be followed
by the children. A small book on the care of indoor plants should be kept
in the classroom and referred to by the teacher and children.
When flowers are out of season, leaves, twigs, and berries (non-poisonous)
can be arranged. Some plants can be grown in the garden for the beauty
of their leaves. Dried grasses, flowers and flower parts can be collected
and used in winter decorations.
Hoe Trowel Garden twine and stakes
Fork Handfork A book on gardening
Rake Yard brooms Container for weeds (small wheelbarrow)
Line Garden Scissors
Dibber Watering Cans
All tools must be functional, strong and of the right size for the
There should be a compost heap. The children learn to sweep and tidy
the yard, putting dead leaves, earth, etc., on the compost heap. Children
can water as necessary, giving the right amount to each plant. Children
can learn to weed, cut off dead leaves and flowers, and care for plants
There should be a patch of ground where the children dig the soil,
rake and plant seeds. They will care for the plants and grow vegetables
It would be ideal to have a few fruit trees such as an apple, plum,
peach, and walnut.
Little children are given seeds that grow quickly, to plant. They are
shown how to crumble the soil finely, to make it smooth, to place the line,
make a furrow of the right depth for the seeds being planted. They are
shown how to plant the seeds thinly in the case of small seeds and the
right distance apart in the case of larger ones. They are shown how to
cover the seeds with earth and pat the row firmly. Some soils may then
need watering with a fine spray. In the case of very small seeds, it is
wise to mix them with a little sand or fine earth before planting, as this
makes it easier to sow them thinly. The directions on the seed packet are
read and followed.
Radishes and quick growing lettuce can soon be cropped. Children should
be able to pick some of the vegetables used in the exercises of practical
life and for snack. They can also cut flowers and leaves for flower arrangements
from the garden.
On different occasions, lessons are given on the use of each garden
tool. The children must have adequate opportunities to practice the use
of each tool.
The children are taught to recognize each type of weed, one at a time,
and how to dig them up by the roots without damaging surrounding plants.
Some can be pulled up by hand. Some need a dibber for long rooted ones.
The children learn how to cut off dead flowers and leaves in the right
way for different plants.
They learn how to water and when to water. They learn how to prepare
the ground and plant different kinds of seeds. They learn how to plant
seedlings. The children learn to cut flowers, leaves, etc. for indoor use.
CARE OF AN ANIMAL
If the teacher is fond of animals and understands their care, an animal
should be kept in the classroom after the children are normalized.
The children love a small, furry animal such as a guinea pig or hamster.
The animal must have ideal conditions. It must have plenty of room, and
if it is a social animal, a companion.
The teacher must see that no harm comes to the animal. The cage is
kept securely locked until all the children know how to handle the little
creature gently and the animal is ready to enjoy the attention of the children.
The children are shown the right way to handle the pet. When a child
first handles the animal, the teacher is there to take the animal immediately
should the child have a sudden fear or revulsion. It is usually wise for
her to have her hands just under the child's. It is best if the teacher
holds the pet while the children learn to stroke and fondle it at first.
The children learn to feed, water, and give the right amount of the
right kind of food at the right time.
They also learn to groom the animal, if necessary. The children learn
to keep the cage clean.
From time to time, other creatures may be kept, e.g., tadpoles in the
spring or an insect for a very short time. These must be given good care,
observed, and studied but not handled. Children are naturally sensitive.
They must be helped to care for and respect all creatures. If the teacher
does not have the conviction that no living thing should be hurt, then
it is better that living things are not brought into the classroom. If
a teacher allows an animal to be hurt or if she shows any form of revulsion
for any living creature, the children will not feel as secure with her
as they do with a caring teacher. If the school grounds are really large,
one or two other animals can be kept out of doors and given the same care.
At no time must any creature that requires live food be kept. To know
that this happens in nature is different from watching it happen or giving
live food. In nature the hunted have a chance and more often than not,
escape the hunter. It is the weaker or more foolish that are caught, thus
maintaining a healthy group of animals. In the classroom situation, there
is no chance of escape and the children feel it is wrong and unfair. Little
children feel an aversion to seeing a living thing eaten. If a child does
not have this aversion but likes to feed the living thing, then something
is seriously wrong. The child is learning to be sadistic and uncaring,
or is already so and needs help to regain his/her natural sensitivity.
The children do not feel as secure with a teacher who permits the feeding
of live creatures, even insects or worms, to others as they do with a teacher
who has a real sensitivity to all life.