Nature study is an essential part of the curriculum at Montessori Tides School, but the Elementary students went beyond the nature found on the school playground and classroom decks to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. They celebrated with a field trip to the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens.
It was a beautiful day to venture into the arboretum, with children, teachers, parents and wildlife enjoying the day. During the field trip, the students rotated through three stations set up with nature-based activities.
At one station, Miss Nancy led her group in a discussion about environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, whom they learned about during art. Everyone then had the opportunity to explore the area to find bits of nature to make their own artistic creations.
Students gathered flowers, moss, sticks, stones, leaves and other items to create their artworks. The group then toured the art, and the artists had the chance to talk about their works.
Miss Jessica led her groups on a short hike through the arboretum. The groups moved quietly as they listened and watched for wildlife. Miss Jessica would stop to point out dragonflies flitting above the water or broad-headed skinks catching some sun on a tree.
Before hiking back for the next station, Miss Jessica stopped the group so they could write a calligram, or shape poem, inspired by the natural setting. Some students also took the opportunity to make sketches in their notebooks.
Miss Peggy also joined the field trip and led her group in an appreciation for the trees. Each of them read a part of a story about trees from a book that celebrates plants through Native American stories.
They also made bark rubbings and took time to sit with their chosen trees. Some of the students wrote poems about their chosen trees, while others made stories about what the tree had seen over its lifetime.
They ended their lesson with a tree ceremony. They blessed the tree, and each one poured a small cup of water on the ground around the tree. Of course, the tree appreciation often ended with a group hug around the tree.