Saturday, January 15, 2011


Each week as I sit to write our accomplishments, I reflect on how well things are going in this New Year.  Not perfect, but really, really good.  One part of our studies that is going especially well is Botany. 
My goal this year was to take my girls’ natural interest in Nature Studies and expand on it with a formal curriculum.  I have tried other science programs over the past year and they have been pushed aside because we “have no time”.  I have come to learn that that is never true.  We have the time but the program I was using does not hold their attention long enough to make them desire to spend the time on science.  That has changed since we picked up the Apologia Botany book.  
I blogged a while ago that I wanted to share science with another family, partner together and make it a collaborative experience.  My good friend answered my plea for company and joined us.  Then another friend asked to participate.  Now we have our Botany Bunch - three adults, six children meeting once a week to do the suggested activities.  We rotate houses and share ideas.  We plan via email.  The reading is done prior to meeting.  We are taking three weeks for chapter one but that is okay.  My girls know what taxonomy is now.  They know why Latin is used for science and why it is called a dead language.  They know what vascular and non-vascular plants are.  They have begun to keep beautiful journals.  They are having fun!  I am having fun too!
This week we met (minus one family who was traveling) to work on vascular plants.  We brought with us our Magiscope which the girls received for Christmas from Greg and I.  The girls went outside to find winter samples of vascular plants.  They also took samples from indoor house plants.  Looking under the microscope it was easy to see the midrib and veins that carry the water to all parts of the leaf.  Beautiful sketches were made of these leaves.  Colors were carefully chosen, texture was added, even the water droplets or specks of dust were added to the drawings.  My friend and I are keeping our own Botany journal and enjoy working alongside our children.  
I highly recommend the Magiscope. It is reasonably priced and very durable.  Meant to be a field microscope, it will travel with us to the Audubon, to the beach, anywhere our interests take us.  The children use this microscope independently.  It is self-lighting.  I bought two lenses to increase the magnification but for now we are using the lowest magnification.  I am so glad my friend over at Frog Creek recommended it to me.
Back to Botany.....this week we will finish chapter one and build our light hut in which herbs will be grown.  Eventually the herbs will be used for homemade soap.  My friends have a great deal of knowledge of plants, herbal medicine and gardening.  They are going to add their knowledge to our program.  We will become herbalists and grow our own remedies.  Lilah can grow the herbs she needs to make her spa products.  Can you tell I am excited?  I am.  Hopefully our herbs will then be transplanted to our community garden plot in the late spring.  My goal is to have a defined area of our garden be herbs.  Mint, lavender, cilantro, basil, and many others I have not thought of yet.

The enthusiasm for this study is contagious.  Listening to the girls talk and learn and share and reflect on their learning reminds me of why we chose to homeschool.  This study epitomizes what I believe homeschooling can be - learning based on personal desires and interests, shared with others, and tailored to the needs of the child.  Love it!

*I was not paid or compensated in any way to endorse Magiscope.  


mamak said...

That is awesome! Glad you are having so much fun!

GARY said...

Awesome, the Journals look wonderful, Can adults join your class , I would learn so much more...

Jessica said...

Gary - you totally can join us! Any time you want pop on over!

Our Side of the Mountain said...

LOVE the journals! I have inspirations to do such nature journaling with my kids as well!


Karen said...

The journals look awesome! I love Nature Journals. Makes me wish I had chosen Botany for our first Apologia! But we are loving Zoology.

I will check out the magiscope. Kei's microscope is not very good.

Theresa said...

So Cool!! I want to do botany now too!!

Helena said...

How great your Botany travels sound! How wonderful that two families joined you. How delicious that they are loving their learning! And of course you completely echoed my philosophy of homeschool in your last lines:
"what I believe homeschooling can be: learning based on personal desires and interests, shared with others, and tailored to the needs of the child."

Yes! I love it too! And we'll pop on over and join you as soon as we get our plane tickets sorted… :-)

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