I am very excited to be teaching Botany at a local homeschool cooperative this Fall. One of the encouraging trends in homeschool science curriculum development is the recognition of the need for and the production of resources that dig deeper into a scientific sub-fields. While I appreciate the old stand-by Apologia texts, one of my long-standing criticisms has been the lack of depth and the lack of phenomenal specific examples of God’s amazing creation.
Enter: Apologia Young Explorer Series, which allows in depth study through topics such as Zoology, Flying Creatures, and Botany. If you are using any of these texts at home or in a co-op or small private or online school your child(ren) are off to a good start. There are some easy ways to bulk up this curriculum with a few supplemental resources that will truly equip your students to dig deeper and pursue study outside of class.
1. Learn the plants in your area. Start with the trees, which are typically fewer in number and easier to recognize unless you live in one of the great Southern states. North Carolina, as an example, has 653 tree species, while Montana only has a few dozen. You can easily find tree identification websites for your state and bio-region. The best online key I have used so far is Arbor Day Foundation Key. Here are a few more: a) Trees of the Pacific NW; b) Key to Idaho trees; c) Key to MT trees; d) Key to WA trees
2. Pick a few trees and watch them weekly throughout the season. Record big happenings such as, a) When did the first leaf change color? b) When did the first leaf fall? c) What other species used the tree? What did they use it for? Record the date and weather of these events!
3. Spend regular time drawing leaves, full trees, moss, and any other plant that strikes your fancy. Sketching observations will improve your child’s observation skills and will encourage a deeper curiosity and understanding of the plant