We finished our classification project last week. I put each collage into a sheet protector and made them our title pages for the respective sections of our nature commonplace book. Each section corresponds to a section in the Handbook of Nature Study.
I even found an online classification game that the kids had fun with. They are excited about their new knowledge and wanting to apply it whenever possible.
Curiously, I found this quote in Comstock's book:
Nature-study does not start out with classification given in books, but in the end it builds up in the child's mind a classification which is based on fundamental knowledge; it is a classification like that evolved by the first naturalists, because it is built on careful personal observation of both form and life. (p. 6)
My friend is teaching Mammal Menagerie for our co-op, a program she got from a relative that works for the public school system. It comes with a video, newspapers, and other activities. One of the first things ds#2 did was to place a list of mammals into their appropriate Orders. This did not have the same appeal at all as our basic classification activity did. The kids found it interesting, though, that our large animal encyclopedia was organized by kingdom, then phylum, then class, and then order. That made it easy to find what we were looking for and the kids had fun seeing what other mammals were in each order.
To me, that was the key take-home message--that classification is a way to group all living things and that this system is used even in the books in our home. To be required to learn the various mammal orders demonstrates the point about "book" classification, and about "stuffing facts" into kids. How much more meaningful it is to discover these things through our own observations.