Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Oops a Daisy - A review of Teaching with Flowers by Julie Warburton

Teaching With Flowers - Julie Warburton

Ok, to be completely honest, I’m a bloke. Teaching with flowers is not something I have ever really given serious consideration to. Like most teachers, I’ve stuffed some daffodils in a milk bottle and got the kids to draw them but that’s about the extent of my floral expertise. Therefore I expected that reading ‘Teaching with Flowers’ would be a challenge.

I needn’t have worried. Mick Waters, as always, writes a compelling introduction and then we’re into Julie’s introduction, the first line of which made me feel guilty of my stereotypical blokeness as the word ‘learning’ is in the first sentence. I’m a passionate teacher so I should have seen flowers, as Julie says, as ‘another way to help children learn’. Combining her significant teaching experience and her abilities as a florist, Julie shares her experiences of working with children and flowers, with some amazing results. The underlying themes of hands-on, care, pride and quality apply to many other curriculum areas so why not teach with flowers? In case you need any more convincing there are lists of vocab you can cover as well as pages of curriculum areas - yes, ‘pages’.

Ok, so you’re convinced but you don’t know your buttercups from your eryngiums? Me neither. Don’t worry petal, Julie is here to help. There’s a full chapter on flowers, how to care for them, elements of design and all sorts of technical vocab; another chapter on seasonal flowers and what’s generally available when, cleverly organised by colour, flower name and season and much more background information.

The rest of the majority of the book is split into two main sections; one is step-by-step instructions, clearly written and supported by great photos, to create specific flower arrangements. These aren’t the ones you’ll see in the local church but practical activities for children to tackle in school. The other section is called ‘Let’s learn about...’ and provides a number of lessons that tackle a variety of concepts and knowledge from a range of subjects and shows how using flowers can enhance this learning.

The book ends with more useful tips on extending the use of flowers, or the ‘blooming curriculum’, across the school, with a special mention for Julie’s previous passion of transition. Finally there’s ‘techniques’ so you can look like an expert in front of your learners and links to useful resources. Even the index is colour coded to make the busy teacher’s life easier.

There is no doubt that this book will provide you with everything you will ever need to enhance children’s learning through the use of flowers. Imagine the smell, the colours and the excitement of a classroom with children enhancing learning through flowers. What a great experience that would be - and then you could display the results in the staffroom and cheer the teachers up too! Well done Julie for creating a book that adds an unexpected level of rich educational experience in an easily accessible form that the busy teacher, whether a trained florist or not, can readily use to bring learning alive.

I will definitely blooming go out and buy this book. No stigma attached!

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