Do you have parts-of cards in your classroom? You might also know them as the nomenclature cards. Maybe you do, but you haven’t presented them for a while, or feel that it’s boring. It’s time to change your mind, these cards are a powerhouse for skill building and activity ideas!
I love the nomenclature cards for a few reasons. First, it offers a foundation in botany, zoology and other science fields in using real information about real creatures. Second, it builds on materials and experiences in the classroom that can begin as young as 2.5 years old (or younger!) with class pets or plants, visits to a nature center, farm, zoo, or other animal habitat, and simple parts-of puzzles. Building on previous experiences allow for deeper, richer learning. Lastly, there are so many ways to integrate this material into other lessons and areas in your classroom!
Use the activity as an opportunity for discussion with the child. Discuss the name of the animal, their prior knowledge of the animal and what they may have learned about it previously. In a language rich Montessori Classroom, we often read and discuss animals, have models of different animals and classify those animal models in different ways. (Vertebrates/invertebrates; classes of vertebrates, number of legs, fins/ fur/ scales etc.)
This “parts of” activity with individual cards where each separate part is isolated and colored lets us begin to focus on and be aware of the separate part of animals. We chat about the different parts that each animal has. By matching that of the animal to our own body we can encourage discussion by pointing out the colored part and asking leading questions. “Do you have a tail? What does the horse do with his tail? Why might the horse need a tail? What other animal have tails?”
Parts of Puzzles are so much fun and have significant leaning value. From the easiest activity, removing the pieces, one by one and replacing them within the frame to learning to name the pieces of the parts the child can interact with the parts on a Sensorial (hands- on) level. Later he can build the puzzle outside of the frame next to the puzzle holding the completed image in his brain. For an added challenge, including movement, you can place the puzzle pieces on ne table and the frame on the other and the child can build the puzzle across the room further using his visual memory to complete the puzzle. Each of these more challenging levels, helps to solidify the location and relationship of the parts of the animal of plant part.
I like the Puzzles that actually look like real animal and plant parts. My favorite are puzzles from Bruins Montessori: but buy the best you can find and afford.
Classroom pets, inside or out give children opportunities to care for animals and see and discuss their parts up close. Depending on where you live and your licensing requirements and classroom allergies you may only be able to have animal visitors or see them on field trips. If that is your situation, even that is a great connection with nature.
Plant parts can be experienced in a variety of ways. When children lay a seed on a wet paper towel and watch it crack and sprout they begin to see the parts of a seed as well as experience its life cycle. Gardening, especially with child sized tools, flower arranging and even food preparation involving newly harvested vegetables help children acquire first-hand knowledge of plant parts. Many schools invite each child to bring in a plant to care for during the school year. What a fun way to experience plant part first hand.
Children love to match! A child can match the puzzle pieces to the nomenclature control cards. This lets him move from the concrete experience to the more abstract, seeing how only one part of the card is colored in. Later, lay out the control card first, naming the parts and match just the pictures. Then match the words. Matching words is a more challenging level of matching as the letters often look alike to a young child and he has to look quite closely to discriminate between them. Matching offers growth in visual discrimination and yet another opportunity to say the name of the parts and see where each is located in relation to the whole.
Beginning writers can use the movable alphabet to build the names of the parts using their sound spelling and the cards (or the puzzle pieces). Later children can color in just one part of whole using the prepared black line master and write or trace the corresponding word using his writing pencil. More advanced writers can use a pencil and paper to write a list of the names of the parts, definitions, or even a short story or report about the plant or animal.
Children love art and it is fun to combine their awareness and knowledge of nature with their learning about nomenclature parts. Using the white outlines included in the parts-of printable activity children can explore using a variety of art mediums. Children enjoy coloring a part and writing the word to create their own scientifically accurate booklet of parts. Others enjoy coloring the whole and cutting it out to make a puppet. Maybe your child wants to use the puzzle outline as a master shape and push pin the pieces and glue the puzzle back together or trace each piece, paint the shape to label. I find that the more creativity you encourage, the more creativity you will see in your classroom!
As this material is a classic reading material, be sure you include these lessons! Initially you can use these cards the Matching Way, where the child lays out the control cards first and matches the picture only cards and then the label cards. Later as his experience and confidence increases, try the Reading Way. Lay out the picture only cards first and then invite the child to read the label cards to match them to the picture cards. Now use the control cards to check your work. You will be surprised how fast your children are ready for this level of this work. Be sure to have the definition Booklet and Definition cards available as well for those children who are really reading!
Labels, labels, labels! You cannot have enough labels in your classroom! I have an endless supply of labels in my classroom for me to write to the children and for them to write to label anything they may wish to label. This includes “parts of” any real plant or animal that we may have in the classroom as well as any model that we may have. Those large models that we sometimes use for scrubbing are perfect for this as are the parts of puzzles. And of course, it is really fun to label the parts of the human and label each other!
Grace and Courtesy
I invite any child who has made a book of parts to “read” it to three other children. This gives the child who has done the work more opportunities to review the names of the parts, saying them aloud while looking at the pictures and the words. It also gives the child listening a chance to be introduced to the parts of that animal or botany part. In this way, zoology and botany parts are even more integrated into the classroom more consistently. It is also a chance for a child to practice his grace and courtesy skills by asking another child, “May I read my Parts of the Turtle book to you?”
Cathie Perolman, M.Ed
Cathie Perolman is a reading specialist, elementary educator, author, consultant, and creator of educational materials for primary and elementary students.
You can see all her original materials for sale in our shop, and read more about her and her life’s work here.