Further Materials

Botany Cabinet and Cards

Material Description:

A wooden cabinet with three drawers containing wooden frames and insets of leaf forms with a knob in the centre to hold them by and an orange stick for each drawer.  Three sets of cards for each figure: one with the complete shape filled, one with a thick outline and one with a thin outline


  • Preparing the first tray
  • Choose three contrasting insets and place them and their frames in the first drawer, fill the spaces with blank wooden yellow squares
  • Ask the child to carry the tray, with the orange stick on it and place it on the mat
  • Hold the orange stick with three fingers in the right hand
  • Lift out an inset from the tray, holding the knob with the thumb, index and middle finger of the left hand, in sequence
  • Place the circle in front of the child
  • Trace the edge of the back of the inset with the tip of the orange stick, beginning at the stem in a precise, natural, continuous, clockwise movement
  • Invite the child to do the same
  • Put the orange stick and inset on the mat
  • Trace around the frame anticlockwise with two fingers
  • Let her trace the frame
  • Put the inset back into the frame carefully with the right hand, pause and fit it into frame exactly
  • Repeat these movements with the other two shapes


  • As in the presentation
  • Introduce her to the other drawers when she is ready, one at a time
  • The child traces insets from any two drawers at one time
  • The child uses all the drawers together


  • To be covered in the three-part lesson, giving no more than three names in each lesson, to be taught when the child can discriminate the different dimensions without hesitation and before working with the Botany cards.
  • The names of the leaf shapes

Criteria of Perfection (Control of Error):

  • Control is inbuilt by the material itself; the corresponding inset fits it’s frame

Direct Aim:

  • Discrimination of the shapes

Indirect Aim:

  • To help to prepare for the study of Botany
  • To prepare the child’s hand for writing by
  • acquiring motor capacity to trace and reproduce well defined shapes in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions
  • developing muscular memory for shapes used later in writing by the fingers and wrist
  • preparing for reading by developing the ability to memorise shapes prior to learning the alphabet

Age at Presentation:

Four years

Games (Further Exercises):

  • Game 1: This is also called a ‘memory exercise’ or ‘reverse pairing at random’

The child works with all the drawers of the cabinet, removing all of the insets and placing them at random on the working mat.  Place an indicator on the tray and ask the child for the corresponding inset.  The child traces the inset before placing it into the frame (bringing together the visual and kinaesthetic senses).

  • Game 2

Use the contrasting shapes first, in the above exercise and later similar ones, reflecting the principal with the Sensorial Materials of moving from extremes to grading shapes.

Botany Cabinet and Cards

The work with the cards here is similar to how they are used with the Geometric Cabinet. For the Presentation and Exercises with Botany Cards it is not necessary for the Cabinet and Cards to be at a distance from one another as the aim is not to memorise this comes later with the Games


  • First set of cards: ‘Find the Shape’
  • Choose a few cards of contrasting shapes and place them on the working mat.  Look at the first card, leave it on the mat and go to the cabinet to find the corresponding shape
  • Superimpose the shape onto the card
  • Continue till the end of the pile
  • Gradually increase the amount of cards in the pile until the whole set is given
  • Second set of cards: ‘Find the Cards’
  • Choose a few contrasting shapes and place them on an ordinary tray, on a working mat or table at random.  Show the child a shape and invite her to find the corresponding shape from the first set of cards
  • Superimpose the shape onto the card
  • Continue till the end of the pile
  • Gradually increase the amount of shapes on the tray, depending on the child’s ability


  • After the child has worked through the first set of cards introduce the second and third sets

Games (Further Exercises):

  • Game 1:
  • This requires two floor mats placed at a distance from one another, the cards and the cabinet
  • Lay out the cards from each set which correspond to one shape
  • The drawer with the corresponding shape and other insets is placed on the other mat
  • Take the chosen shape and let the child trace around it and leave it on the mat by the drawer
  • Go to the other mat and bring the card which corresponds
  • Superimpose the shape over the card
  • Replace the cards
  • The Directress chooses the number of different shapes of cards and the extent to which the chosen shapes contrast based on the child’s ability.  This game becomes more challenging as more cards are added, until all the cards and drawers are used.
  • Game 2
  • All three sets of cards are laid out at random, all drawers are placed on the mat at a distance.  The Directress hides one card and the child must find out which is missing by superimposing the shapes on the cards
  • Game 3
  • Play Game 2 but without the shapes as a control


  • After the work with the Botany Cabinet, the child is ready to explore natural leaves.  Real leaves differ from the symbolic shapes in size, shape and colour, so the Directress introduces various carefully chosen leaves and shows how the specimens relate to the symbolic forms by matching them.  Plants in the classroom may also be used if they have leaves that match the symbols.

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