Sunday, March 26, 2017


Lesson 1 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany text (entitled, "Botany") is basically an introduction to the science.  In this lesson, we reviewed taxonomy and learned the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants.  We also talked about angiosperms and gymnosperms and found examples of all of these in nature.  I know we're going to have a lot of fun with this book!
We will be using the Apologia Junior Botany Notebooking Journal to accompany our text.
Here, Maggie records what she learns from the reading, as well as keeps notes from our projects and experiments.
One of the first activities we did for this lesson was a classification project.  The text calls for shoes for this project, but we thought buttons might be easier to work with and more colorful!
Basically, we did the work of taxonomists, separating the buttons into kingdoms, then further separating those into phyla, followed by classes, and then orders.  Our two main kingdoms were "Kingdom Large" and "Kingdom Small."  We then divided both of those kingdoms into two phyla ("4 Holes Phylum" and "2 Holes Phylum").  Pictured below are our large buttons.
Using different colors of post-its for the different steps in our classification helped.  We also cut them to make them small enough to fit under the categories above.
The farther down we went, the less buttons we found to fit those categories.  This let us know we were doing it right.  We learned that taxonomists don't have an easy job!
Kingdom Large!
Kingdom Small!
Once complete, we recorded our classification system in our notebooking journal (page 16).  (This was a fun activity!)
The text challenged us to find the leaf of a vascular plant and locate its midrib.  Here is Maggie's pick.  (It, too, went in our journal.)
To help us better understand how nonvascular plants use water, we used a bit of water in a container and a paper towel.
First, Maggie poured a bit of the water onto the counter.
Using just a small corner of the paper towel, we placed it at the edge of the water spill and watched the paper towel quickly absorb it.  This is the same way nonvascular plants (like moss) use moisture.  They absorb it.
It soaked up most of the spill very quickly.
Later, we hunted for some moss at one of our local parks.  (Mags knew by now to look for shade where water might be.)
Investigating this nonvascular plant ...
... and drawing the same in her journal.
We just love Apologia!
After we read more about angiosperms (flowering plants) and gymnosperms in our text, it was time to find some examples of these in nature.  Maggie spotted these dandelions and decided to draw them in her journal first.  (A bee was pollinating it while she drew.)
Next, we spotted some gymnosperms, the evergreens (conifers) all around us.  Here, Mags is holding a pinecone from these gymnosperms.  The pinecone contains the seeds of the plant.
She loves when we take homeschooling outside!
We spotted more moss (nonvascular plants), too!
And then we found the trickiest find of all for that day, seedless vascular plants, ferns!  (Ferns produce spores instead of seeds.)
We added printed pictures of these photos to her journal, next to her drawings, and she wrote characteristics of each.  It turned out looking great!
Next, we did an activity out of our 501 Science Experiments book ("How Many Plants to a Box," #103), which challenged us to create a quadrat for hyperfocusing on one area of land for study.
First, we picked a piece of ground and used four chopsticks pushed into the earth to create a square.
Next, using yarn, we wrapped each chopstick to connect them all and outline our square.
Looks great, Mags!
She sat down and started to document the contents of this piece of earth.
Her quadrat contained both angiosperms ...
... and gymnosperms!
Here is her drawing (with these same photos) attached to her journal.
Finally, it was time to do some planting of our own!  I had bought this little herbs seed kit years ago at Target on clearance.  (Since I no longer shop there and haven't for a year, I can guarantee you this was quite a while ago!)  The text challenged us to plant some seeds of herbs, so this was the perfect time to use it!
To do this inside, we set up a light box.  We did ours differently, however, than the text's recommendations.  (We will see if our changes to its instructions result in herbs.)  The text recommends a darkened box covered in foil with a 15-watt bulb attached.  I couldn't find a 15-watt bulb, but did find a 50-watt gro-bulb, meant for just such a project.  I was worried about more heat with the extra wattage, so I decided we should make our box a little more open.  We chose a large, plastic container and hung our bulb, light socket, and electrical cord from a hole in the same.
Then, it was time to get dirty!
Here, Mags is mixing nutrient-rich peat into our potting soil.
We wet down our soil well and added our seeds to the top before covering them with a bit more soil.
After we planted our seeds, we set our seed containers in our light box to start the process.
Grow, babies, grow!
We planted cilantro, parsley, and basil.  If they grow, we will use them in some recipes and update this post to show you,
We recorded this project (along with copies of these photos) in our journal.
We also completed the "Botany Vocabulary" ...
 ... and "Botany Minibook" in our journal.  (I love these activities for helping her to review what we studied in a fun way.)
For our extra project, we did some microscope work.  In one of our prepared slides that Maggie's grandfather bought her, we had an up-close view of the spores of a fern.  (Here is a cut of the ferns we found out the park.  You can see the spores on the underside.)
We decided it would be neat to see the material that makes up one of these spores more closely.
Maggie LOVES when we pull out the microscope!
What we saw looked just like this.  (This image was taken from a Google image search.)
Maggie recorded her observations on one of our "Magnification Observation" sheets (I make these on the computer) and we placed it in her journal.
It was a fun intro to the fascinating world of plants!  Next up, we will explore seeds!  Check back!

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