Saturday, April 29, 2017


Lesson 3 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany is all about flowers.  This was a fun one!
As with every lesson in this text, we used the Apologia Junior Botany Notebooking Journal to record all that we learned.
In celebration of this new lesson, we went to the store and picked out a beautiful bouquet of flowers!  (These would also serve as our study subjects.  They had no idea what they were in for!)
This gem was Maggie's favorite!
To start our study of flowers, we read The Reason For a Flower by Ruth Heller ...
... and How Flowers Grow by Emma Helbrough.
After those two books, we read from our text about how important flowers are to us.  Life without flowers would be a lot different than life as we know.  What would we eat?  What would be wear?  How would we live?  The world would definitely be an uncomfortable place!  From there, we read more about flowers from Usborne's Science with Plants ...
... and Starting Point Science (Volume 1).
Next, we watched the "Flower Power" episode on the Up and Away! DVD from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! series.
Here is that same episode on YouTube (, below.
Then it was time for some hands-on fun!  As per the text's instructions (pages 38-41), we dissected a flower to learn more about its parts.  Maggie chose a lily for this activity.
First, we studied the flower's stem and sepals.  The sepals of a lily are also its outer petals.  (You can see that the sepals have very distinct green points on the tips, where they were once connected when the flower was still a bud.)  Together, the sepals are called the calyx.
Next, we carefully pulled back the petals.  Together, all the petals are called the corolla.
At the base of each petal, you can find nectar, but before you get to the nectar, you pass the male and female parts of the flower (the stamens and carpel, respectively).
(These are those male and female parts once the petals are completely removed.)  The male parts are the stamens.  The stamen's job is to make pollen.  There are two parts to the stamen: the anther and the filament.  The anthers, the enlarged parts that are covered in pollen, are held up by the green filaments.  These are located differently in different species of flowers.  In this lily, they are centralized and tall, but when we were at Lowe's this week, we noticed that foxgloves' stamens are deep inside, against the upper wall of their flowers (so a bee can rub her back against them).  God was so imaginative!
In the center of those stamens is the female part, the carpel.  Its stigma is the sticky top, designed to catch any pollen that touches it.  (The photo below is a picture of another of our lilies, a few days later, after it had matured some.  We also noticed that the flower smelled much sweeter at that point, for attracting pollinators!)
We removed the carpel from our original flower to investigate it further.  The style is the long tube under the stigma.  Pollen grains go down this to get to the egg.  The wider bottom of the carpel is the flower's ovary.  (In this picture, you can see we made a slice in ours for further study.)
Under the magnifying glass, we were able to see the tiny ovules in the ovary.  These are the egg containers.  The eggs are too small to see.  (If you click on this picture, you can see the ovary larger and may be able to make out those ovules.)
We separated all of our parts and placed them in the appropriate boxes in our notebook (page 50).  I put them in small baggies to keep them from rubbing the page opposite.
This method was at the suggestion of the text, but I will tell you that days later, our flower parts started to mold.  We ended up removing them and replacing them with pictures of each part,
Here is another photo of our second lily, mature and beautiful!  It's anthers were full of pollen and its carpel was moist and sticky!
We decided to practice pollinating it with another lily in the bunch (Lily #3) using a Q-tip (to simulate the furry body of a honeybee).
Here is Lily #2's carpel!  (We will learn more about pollination in Lesson 4 and we will do this experiment again with two flowers that are actually still planted.  This was just for demonstration purposes.)
Lily #3's carpel was not as mature yet.  (You can see the stickiness is absent.)
I have recently accepted the #365Homeschool challenge at Hip Homeschool Moms (, an Instagram challenge that commits you to post a picture every day of your homeschooling life for a year.  This is inspiring for other homeschooling parents and fun, too!
Here is one of my first images for the challenge, of our studies from Lesson 3.  (The image of the paper flowers in water is explained farther down in this post.)  If you see pictures in the future on my blog with the #365Homeschool on them, you know those were part of this Instagram challenge.
As we studied, we continuously added to our journal.
For a fun snack, I made a candy flower that Maggie could eat, with a different candy representing each part.  I got this idea from, though that was not the site where it originated.  For our flower, I used Fruit by the Foot for the petals, Twizzlers Pull 'n' Peel for the carpel and stamens, yellow decorating sugar for the pollen (I dipped the licorice in water before dipping into the sugar to make it stick), a marshmallow for the ovary, and a Lifesaver for the ovule.
 I put it all on a white plate and made Maggie label it before she was allowed to eat it.
 Great work, Mags!
 Homeschooling is delicious!
We decided to dry a couple of the flowers from our beautiful bouquet.  We used the instructions in our EcoArt! book by Laurie Carlson to help us (page 89).
Maggie picked these two.
First we positioned them on some newspaper.
Then we covered them with some more newspaper before trapping them under this crate full of books. 
A few days later, we peeked to reveal some well-squashed specimens!
 They were flat, but still a bit moist, so we laid them out on a table to continue drying.  (That only took a few more days.)
Next in our text, we read about different flower families, including composite flowers (like sunflowers, daisies, and asters).  We also read about carnivorous plants, like the Venus flytrap, the bladderwort, the pitcher plant, and the sundew.  These plants are fascinating!  After reading in our text, we read more about them from Usborne's Mysteries & Marvels of Nature, "Animal-Eating Plants," pages 6-7.
We then read the "A Plant That Preys" article, about pitcher plants, in National Geographic's April 2016 issue, page 14.
(Here is the photo from that article.)
In our Plant Adaptations photo cards, there was even more information about pitcher plants and bladderworts.
(Here is one of the photos from that pack, with a poor beetle trapped inside a pitcher plant.)
(And here is a great photo from that pack showing the little bladders on the bladderwort.  I liked this picture much better than the ones in the text.)
After learning about carnivorous plants, we decided to plant our "Fly Trap Fred" from this kit we picked up at Hobby Lobby.
We were amazed at how tiny the seeds are!
 We were even more amazed to learn that these seeds take one to three months to sprout!  Crazy!  Here's hoping we get a Venus flytrap after all this waiting!
Our journal was looking great!
I love the minibooks (left) that you can open to reveal facts about everything you learn!
After reading more about composite flowers, Maggie decided she wanted to plant a sunflower.  Using the suggestions out of Usborne's What Shall I Grow? book by Ray Gibson (pages 4-5), we set out to plant some sunflower seeds.
She decided on a Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus annuus), which a dear friend gave us seeds for.  Here is her pot with her seed safely bedded!
We stuck it outside with our other plant projects.
I am happy to report that within just a few days, our Lemon Queen had sprouted beautifully!  (Maggie had fun decorating each pot with little additions for fairy gardens.)
We were challenged by the text (page 48) to build a clay model of a flower.  Here is our stem, leaf, and calyx.
Next, we added a paper corolla.  (Mags chose red, of course!)
For the stamens, we colored Q-tips with a yellow Sharpie!
These, we pushed into our clay carpel.
So cute!
It looks great, Mags!
We recorded it all in our journal (page 62).
Next, we decided to preserve another flower from our bouquet.  (Preserving it in borax is supposed to hold its color).
We lined the bottom of a shoe box with a layer of borax, then Maggie chose a flower to lay on top.  She chose her favorite, the red rose.
Then, we completely covered the flower with more borax ...
... and sealed the box shut.  This will stay shut for two weeks until we can check on the rose.  (We will post an update to this post when we do.)
Our notes from this activity went on page 63 in our journal.
We were learning so much about flowers, we thought it would be fun to record some of this information in a fun way.  We found a great idea in Scholastic's 25 Totally Terrific Science Projects book -- a "Blossom Book" -- on pages 11-13.
With the instructions in the book, we were able to make a 3D paper model of a flower, with information written on each of the pages.
 You lift the stem (one of the pipe cleaners) to reveal the first page.  Maggie wrote about some of the many things we get from flowers.
 She also wrote about what happens to petals at night and in bad weather, and about the largest flower (and one of the smelliest), the rafflesia, which smells like rotting meat to attract flies.  (GROSS.)  All the pages together made quite a book!
(Here was another Instagram image for the #365Homeschool challenge.)
The "Blossom Book" fit perfectly into our journal and could still be opened!
There is just so much to do with flowers and we were having a blast.  Our next project came out of The Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do (page 55).  Using paper flowers, we would be able to demonstrate the capillary action that flowers use to open their petals.
First, we cut some small flowers out of some brightly colored paper.
Next, we folded their petals inward, so they would be "closed."
Then, we placed each flower into a bowl of water.
Slowly, the petals of each started to open.
She loved this!
Recently, Cheerios started a campaign (#BringBackTheBees) to help with the bees conservation efforts.  Through this campaign, you were able to sign up to receive wildflowers seed mix for planting to encourage the growth of bee populations.  We thought it was crucial to be a part of this movement.
Our seeds came quickly and we planted them immediately.  Maggie even made a cute sign for outdoors, where she planted the seeds.  (Lamination was a great invention, wasn't it?!)
To wrap up this study, we investigated two other angiosperms.  The first of these was bamboo.  We read The Cat in the Hat's Bamboozled book, as well as some information about bamboo from Usborne's Science with Plants (pictured farther up in this post) ...
... and our Seeds & Plants workbook by School Zone.
From those, we learned that bamboo can grow as much as 39 inches in one day!  ONE.  DAY.  Isn't that astounding?!
In our microscope slides, we have a slice of a bamboo stem.
Mags was able to see from the slide why bamboo is so light!
We also have a slide of a "Silver berry scaly hair."  This plant is another angiosperm.  It looks like this.
Under the microscope, though, this is what we saw!  So pretty!
We wrapped up our journaling with some more minibooks and called it a lesson!  We had so much fun with this one!
Next up?  Lesson 4, entitled, "Pollination."  Check back with us!