I barely survived the nature walks of the Underling’s early “school” years. And I mean barely. So when one of the cohorts wanted to study botany formerly for a high school credit, I groaned out loud, not inwardly, like a good, supportive auntie would. I may have actually cried myself to sleep that night. Over the next several days, I learned botany was going to be more my style. Formal botany involved indoor learning. There were a few labs that involved outdoor hikes to identify plants and trees and optional foraging activities (I would literally rather eat dirt than forage for anything), but nothing so overwhelming that a few rounds of cheating at rock, paper, scissors with my husband couldn’t get me out of. If you homeschool more than one child, then you know that sometimes when an older child gets really into something, suddenly everyone wants to learn about it. Below is an outline of resources I put together for a variety of ages for our Botany studies. This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure policy here.
TEXTBOOKS and BOOKS
- Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology by James Mauseth (we’ve used and liked the 5th edition) for an advanced high school class. It is extremely rigorous, but absolutely fantastic for the advanced botany student. The Cohort who led the botany charge used this book.
- The Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young and illustrated by Jacquelyn Giuffre. We used this for the formal high school class. This book is incredibly detailed.
- Botany Adventure! Learn and Do Unit Studies by Kym Wright is written for ages 12 to 18. This is a perfect curriculum for advanced middle school or a regular high school class. It is rigorous enough to count as .5 (one semester) of high school Botany. There is no additional teachers manual, this book is an all in one. The middle school aged cohort completed this book over the course of a year. The more unschooly Cohort completed a few of the unit studies.This is my personal favorite botany resource. It can sometimes be more difficult to find, check the Rainbow Resources website.
- Botany in 8 Lessons Book and Student Text by Ellen Johnston McHenry is written for ages 8 to 15. The student text includes a teacher portion in the back, so there is no teachers manual to buy. I used this for the elementary aged cohorts. It is easy to use, but not as thorough as Botany Adventure, so it was a perfect fit for the younger crowd.
- Eyewitness Plant (DK book) by David Burnie is for ages 8 to 12 and comes with a cd and wall chart. The wall chart was helpful for all of us. The arty Cohort ended up making a botany sketch book that year that involved sketches from their nature walks and from this chart. I used this in combination with Botany in 8 Lessons for the elementary aged cohorts.
- Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peasby Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Jos. A. Smith is written for ages 7 to 11, but I now also use it in high school to introduce botany and genetics both. We all read this book. Yes, it is that good.
- We also used a few local area books about tree identification and flower identification. Sometimes you can find these types of area books at local botanical gardens, nature centers or national parks.
GAMES and ACTIVITIES
- Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game, a cooperative board game See my review of this game here.
- Root Viewer. There are people in the world that can make root viewers out of nearly anything, ranging from CD cases, clear plastic cups, to something they have fashioned from recycled glass. I am not that person, so I bought one. These are great for all ages, not just preschoolers, so have them on hand no matter what grade you are teaching.
- Worm Farm. During the first cohort’s Botany class I learned a lot about worms and the role they play in healthy soil. Frankly, it was more information than I could ever want to know. However, we picked up a worm farm to enhance the experience and the other cohorts and the Underling were mesmerized. So like the root viewer, don’t underestimate the different ages and grades that will get something out of this.
- For an experiment one of the cohorts grew plants in a variety of ways. One of them was in a mini hydro greenhouse (the one we used was called Hydro Greenhouse 2).
- Cross section of a plant cell. This comes with some suggested activities. We actually didn’t do any of them. The kids sketched the cell in their notebooks and then we made one out of candy.
- I made a poster activity out of a Parts of a Plant poster for elementary ages.
- For more ideas for activities across the curricula check out Kids Discover Plants Games and Activities Page.