Sunday, July 9, 2017


Lesson 10 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany text by Jeannie Fulbright is all about "Gymnosperms."  It's hard to believe we only have two more weeks left of Botany, but we will do a unit study on fungi after that and will pick up Fulbright's Zoology 3 curriculum in the fall, so we definitely have more to look forward to!
As with every lesson in this text, we used (and recommend) the notebooking journal to accompany it.  These offer a great way to help your child's learning become more solid in mind, and together, you are able to create a memory book of all you're learning as you go.  Maggie loves looking back through her old journals!
We started our lesson on gymnosperms by reading in the text about conifers, specifically, giant sequoias and bristlecone pines, two record-breaking gymnosperms.  We then colored in our journal while we watched a fun video, “Coastal Redwoods vs. Giant Sequoias” by National Geographic Kids on YouTube at (below).  It compares and contrasts the two with some very interesting facts!
Once watched, we completed a “Video Review” sheet (which I make on my computer) and added it into our notebooking journal.
From there, we read about softwood trees versus hardwood trees, evergreens, and the leaves of different gymnosperms (needle-like, scale-like, and awl-like).  We then learned about the difference between pollen cones (the male cones) and seed cones (the female cones).  We also learned about two different gymnosperms that don't make cones at all: junipers (which make berry-like cones) and yews (which make arils instead of cones).  We even read about the benefits of forest fires, and how some large trees are able to survive these threats.

This brought us back to our (very handy in this course) Plant Adaptations photo science cards pack.
We pulled out Card 6 which talks about fire adaptation in pinecones.  It reads, "Some pinecones, such as those from jack pines, bristlecone pines, and the lodgepole pines shown in the photograph [below], open their scales and drop their seeds only after being exposed to the heat of a fire.  The seeds are sealed in the cone by a waxy resinous sap that requires heat to melt the seals and free the seeds.  This adaptation allows pines to be among the first plants to sprout after a fire.  This assures the survival of their species."  Fascinating!  God thought of everything.
We then recorded all we were learning in our notebooking journal.
From there, we went on to learn about cycads and ginkgo biloba, two unusual gymnosperms.

I just love how the journals give her an opportunity to draw pictures and write in her own words.  We love adding thematic stickers to our pages, too.
In our microscope slide collection, we have three slides that magnify different parts of different gymnosperms.  We looked at each and Maggie decided to focus on one in particular for her notebook, "Pinewood."
(Here is an image that looks similar to our slide of "Pinewood.")
After observing it under the microscope, Maggie filled out a "Magnification Observation" sheet to place in her journal.  (I made these up on my computer a while back and just print them as needed.)
For our final activity for Lesson 10, we completed the "Opening and Closing Pinecones" experiment outlined on page 144 of the text.  First, we took out our pinecones collection to pick the one we wanted to experiment with.  (We keep fun finds in sealed containers in our classroom for projects like these.)
 Maggie made her selection and we placed the sample in an ice-cold water bath for one hour.
 (Sealing the container kept the pinecone from bobbing up and floating.  We thought it best if it was fully submerged.)
 After an hour, we pulled the specimen out and noticed it was considerably smaller, having pulled its scales tighter around its body.
 It was time to see what heat would do!  We placed our little pinecone on a sheet pan and put it in a 250-degree oven for another hour.  (Poor thing.  It really went through the wringer that day!)
 After an hour, its scales were spread W I D E open!
 How neat!
We recorded our experiment on pages 173-174 of our notebooking journal.
Another great Botany lesson is in the books!  Check back with us again in another week or so after we finish Lesson 11, "Seedless Vascular Plants."  It should be FERNtastic!  (Yes, yes, I did.)


  1. I have loved watching the botany unit in your home and it has flown by!!

    1. Thanks, Brooke! It certainly has! Next week is our last week in it. I can't believe it! We will do a unit study on fungi afterwards, though, as this book doesn't cover mushrooms and such (since they're not plants). Hope you're having a great summer!