Recently while hiking Caspar and I started discussing how amazing bark is and how different it is tree to tree. So amazing that next time I took my camera to capture the unique beauty of the native trees that surround us.
I printed the cards and made a booklet (there are ten images in total) as a little provocation for our nature table. A provocation - just like a beautiful nature book or art cards. The images are just of bark (the trunk of the tree) - this isolates the feature of the tree. It allows the child to further explore just one feature - the effect is that they start to ask questions and explore the concept deeper - 'why is the bark like this?', 'which tree is this?', 'what is that?'. Questions that lead to further exploration in the field. The child comes to the questions and sometimes the answers themselves, the cards are just a prompt. The cards could stay at home but I knew Otis would want to take them the next time we went out.
Montessori speaks of taking nature walks at a child's pace. Children will stop to explore whatever interests them. However often walking the same paths, seeing the same trees - this provocation allows the child to see the same environment in a new light - Otis is now looking at the bark, searching for differences, seeing what this tree looks like, looking for insects and sap in the bark and 'Oh! Look over here!'. Rather than walking past the trees he is now walking amongst them.
Caspar is currently interested in collecting gumnuts - to see how many varieties he can find. It's nice for both children to be playing in/studying nature rather than simply passing by. Isn't this bark amazing!