Category Archives: Botany Journaling

Nature Study: 15 Minutes to Deeper Science Understandings

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You can enrich any science instruction with outdoor nature study for only 15 minutes a day. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere, we are (finally!) heading into spring – the nights are still chilly, but the days are creeping up into near 70 degrees F today. My Southern Hemisphere friends and readers are enjoying the shift to autumn weather. The sudden changes in both spring and fall make them excellent times to move your science instruction outdoors. Whether you are a homeschooling family with adolescent children, a parent with a tiny tot in tow, or a classroom teacher with 20 winter-tired faces looking at you, you can take advantage of nature as your classroom, for only 15 minutes a day.

Getting Started With Nature Study

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Nature study can be conducted using only a few minutes a day, and in any outdoor space.

For those of you who are just dipping your toes into the world of nature, here are some excellent resources to help you get it off the ground.

  •  “8 Reasons to Do Nature Study” reviews the rationale behind including nature study in your instruction, from laying the groundwork for more formal studies later on, to enhancing students’ inquiry skills, to increasing their overall health, just by getting outside more.
  • In “Getting Started With Nature Study,” my friend and fellow nature lover, Barb McCoy, gently guides teachers and families into the routine of nature study, through ten simple lessons.
  • When I first started homeschooling, I put together “Nature Study,” a lesson template I use to build a day’s instruction around a 15 minute outdoor excursion.

Building a Nature Study Library

Over the years, I have read many homeschool and outdoor education blogs on nature study, and I have compiled what I find to be the most commonly used nature study “texts” among all users. These books get used so frequently in my house that they rarely get put away. I personally own all of these books, and highly recommend them, for any nature study setting, and any grade level. Click on the individual photos for information on ordering them directly from this page.

[Note: The field guides here are suitable for the northeastern part of the United States, where I live. Choose the field guide that matches your own region.]

Writing and Nature Study

Science and nature study provide rich opportunities for student writing. Here are some resources that you might find helpful, when pushing writing into your science instruction.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com nature study

Writing and nature study go perfectly together! (c) Simple Science Strategies, 2012.

Debra Reed, at NotebookingPages.com, has created an amazing assortment of pages that can be used for science and nature notebooking and journaling. We have found pages for just about any topic you’d like to study, and have had a membership for many years. From now until April 30, she is holding several promotions. For more information, coupons and a free gift, click on the link, or ad, below.   NotebookingPages.com Free Nature Study Gift, 50% Coupon, & Prize Giveaway

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  [Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received nothing for mentioning these products, and personally have purchased all of them for my own use as a homeschooler and teacher. I never promote a product I do not currently use or wouldn’t consider purchasing. ]

 

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The Essentials of Science and Literacy: A Guide for Teachers

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The Essentials of Science and Literacy. $21.88 at Barnes & Noble

Struggling to find time to teach science in a day full of math and language arts?

Trying to move beyond fun activities to authentic learning tasks that lead to big scientific thinking?

Wondering how to take your students beyond the superficial to the higher order thinking of a real scientist?

Get a copy of The Essentials of Science and Literacy.

Who Would Enjoy The Essentials of Science and Literacy?

  • Literacy support teachers who are in classrooms during science instruction;
  • Teachers in priority districts, where the traditional focus has been on increasing literacy scores;
  • Teachers who like to use an integrated approach to instruction;
  • Instructional coaches who are charged with helping teachers improve their practice;
  • Any teacher who wants to raise the level of rigor and engagement in their literacy and science work.

Read a review of The Essentials of Science and Literacy

For ordering information:

Click on the image, above, for information on ordering this text from Barnes & Noble.

 

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Without further ado, here is the … November 2012 Edition… of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival. Preparing for Winter This months focus will be on how living things prepare for winter. Four different topics will be covered, as is … Continue reading

Here’s the October Edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

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Welcome to the October 31, 2012 edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

I delayed publishing for a few days, as I know many of my readers have been struggling with weather-related issues, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the Superstorm that followed. I pray that all are safe and sound and back to full power soon, if not today.

Thank you for participating in the October Edition of the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival!

 

Changing Seasons

Kim Bennett presents Signs of Autumn: Our Trip to the Orchard posted at A Child’s Garden, saying, “We took the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful autumn day and pick some tasty apples, in the process! We could have filed this under “Fruits and Seeds,” too.”

 

Fruits and Seeds

The Bennett family then follows up with Two Easy Apple Experiments posted on Squidoo, saying, “This lens was an extension of our apple orchard field trip (see “A Child’s Garden”), and was fun to do for some “kitchen counter science.””

 

Potpourri

freelee presents “Be a Backyard Scientist” posted at 52 Days to Explore, saying, “Botany, biology and other sciences in the back yard with simple items you may have.”

That concludes this edition. Thank you to all participants! Each submission earns a free copy of “Autumn Leaves: A Plant Study,” a 23-page science journaling e-Book for studying fall leaves.

Submit your blog article to the November edition of Simple Science Strategies using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.


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The October Simple Science Strategies Newsletter is Ready!

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Download the October Newsletter today!

As promised, here is the next edition of the Simple Science Strategies Newsletter for 2012.

In this edition, we explore Stability and Change through nature studies of fruit and seed development, migration, fall color change and the arrival of autumn weather. In the process, we will learn more about the role of questioning in scientific thinking, and learn ways to help students explore cause and effect. Right click on the text or photo link, below, and save on your computer wherever you choose. Print out or view online (note: the document contains hyperlinks to important resources).

October 2012 Edition of

The Simple Science Strategies Newsletter

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From Apple Flower to Apple Fruit

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On Stability and Change: The Apple

This month, we are studying the concepts of stability and change. The first of our nature-based studies involves a favorite autumn topic in New England: apples.

science strategies apple tree flower botany

The apple: a great opportunity for year-round botany study. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012.

Apples present an excellent opportunity to study stability and change, in both spring and fall, where we can study the transformation of the bare tree to one with leaves, the emergence of leaves and flowers from buds, the growth of apple fruits from the spent blossoms, the gradual ripening of the fruit, and the ultimate dropping of fruits and leaves as the fall winds down to winter.

This is also a nice opportunity to begin to talk about the structures of flowers and fruits, using the familiar, and accessible, apple, even during the winter months. Use the Apple a Day” notebooking pages, for these, and other, activities.

science strategies apple tree flower botany

An Apple a Day” – September Botany Journaling, 2012
20 pages, $1.95

 

A Year of Studies, by Season

An apple tree, all year round

Using the “Adopt-a-Plant” strategy, choose an apple tree (or, if you do not live near one, a crabapple tree will do), and observe it very early in the spring, before the leaves emerge (March or so, here in New England). Sketch the tree, or one branch on the tree in one frame, and provide a narrative to accompany each drawing. Add additional pages, as necessary. Here are some questions you might use as prompts for sketching and writing:

Winter (March)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. This frame and lines journaling page is useful for multiple sketches over time, or multiple views.

  1. Sketch a bud on a twig. How are the buds protected in the winter? Carefully dissect a bud. What do you see inside?
  2. As the bud opens, what parts of the bud remain? What happens to the other parts? Why do you think this happens?
  3. Notice the markings and scars near the buds. What do you think cause them? Explain.
  4. Count the number of nodes from the tip of a branch to the trunk. How old is the branch? Explain how you figured this out.

Spring (May)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Botanical drawings and content vocabulary for journaling, word study, vocabulary building, or penmanship.

  1. Sketch an opening bud. What parts do you see first, the flowers or the leaves? Do they come out at the same time? Do all buds produce leaves and flowers? Describe what you see.
  2. Draw an opening apple blossom. Label these parts: stem, stipules, calyx, sepals.
  3. Sketch an open apple blossom. How many petals do you see? Draw the calyx behind the petals. What shape is the apple blossom? Color your drawing. Are the petals the same color on the inside as the outside? Why do buds and the blossoms appear different colors?
  4. Draw an open apple blossom. Label these parts: petals, stamens, filament, anther, pistil, stigma.
  5. Have an adult help you cut open the base of the apple blossom. What do you see inside? What do you think these become? Use what you know about apples to help you answer.
  6. Carefully sketch the arrangement of the new leaves as they grow around the blossom. What color are they? Do they stay this color?

Summer (June)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Diagrams with labels, or boxes for labeling. Pages with and without word banks as a scaffold for labeling.

  1. Sketch a twig or blossom after the petals fall. What parts remain? What parts are missing? Why do you think some parts fall off? What part do you think becomes the apple fruit that you eat? What becomes the seeds?
  2. Use a piece of colorful tape to mark one twig with developing apples. Return to sketch one developing apple, once a week. Identify any parts of the original blossom that remain.
  3. How many apples grow from one winter bud? How many leaves? Draw a branch and show the arrangement of apples and leaves.
  4. Does the apple branch keep on growing? What part grows after the fruit forms?

Fall (September)

science strategies apple tree flower botany

Sample page. Woodcuts from botanical texts: useful for rendering accurate colors when observing.

  1. Sketch three apples of different varieties, making sure to render the shape accurately. Describe the differences and similarities in these areas: shape, stem, color.
  2. Observe a ripe apple on a tree. Notice the color. Is it the same color everywhere? Develop a hypothesis about the role of air temperature and sunlight in the development of apple fruit color.
  3. Carefully draw and color one apple. Is it the same color everywhere? Are they spots or streaks? Is it the same color on both sides?
  4. Draw a ripe apple (outside and inside views). Identify the flower parts that created the structures you see.
  5. Use words to describe the texture of the apple skin. What function does the skin serve? (See Experiment 1)
  6. Cut up apples of five varieties. Create a data table to compare and rate them from 1-5 based on these factors: color (1=greenest skin, 5=reddest skin), texture (1=coarsest pulp, 5=finest pulp); crispness (1=crispiest, 5=softest), juiciness (1=juiciest, 5=driest), taste (1=most sour, 5=sweetest), aroma (1=no aroma, 5=strongest aroma).
  7. Cut apples of several varieties from stem to flower end. Draw and compare the core area.

Winter (December)

science strategies apple flower botany

Sample page. A variety of lined pages, in both regular rule and primary rule, for copywork, handwriting practice, observations or thematic writing.

  1. Gather an apple, a pear, a peach, a plum and a cherry. Carefully cut each in half, starting at the stem end. Sketch what you see. What is the same about all these fruits? What is different?
  2. Cut an apple from end to end, along the core. Sketch what you see. Note the core line. Can you connect the stem to the flower end through the core? Why?
  3. Cut another apple across the core. Sketch what you see in this view. Identify the flower parts that formed what you see. Draw the seed cells. Can you see faint dots between the cells? What do you think these are? How many seeds do you find in each cell (carpel)?
  4. List all the apple varieties you know. Use other resources to find more names. Sort them by use, color, country of origin.

Want a Report Cover or Fun Word Wall?

science strategies apple flower botany

Download it here

Two Experiments

These experiments are adapted from The Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock), where you can get many other ideas for prompts for botany journaling or classroom discussion, as well as great background information for you, the teacher.

science strategies apple flower botany

Handbook of Nature Study, $23.67, Barnes & Noble (click on image for ordering information).

Experiment 1. The role of the apple peel

Take three apples of similar size, shape, and soundness. Peel one. Place the peeled apple on a desk or shelf. Place one of the unpeeled apples so that it is touching the peeled apple. Place the remaining unpeeled apple on the other side of the peeled apple, but at a distance, so it does not touch.

Which one would you predict would rot first? Which one would you predict would rot next? Where would the rot start? Why do you think this?

Develop a hypothesis to explain your thinking. Explain what you think the role  the skin serves in the life cycle of the apple tree.

Observe the apples for rot over the next several days. Evaluate your hypothesis.

science strategies apple flower botany

(c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

Experiment 2: More on the role of the apple peel

Take the rotten apple from the first experiment. Use a safety pin or a needle to prick the flesh of the rotten fruit, then use the juice-covered pin to prick a healthy fruit. Go back and forth, pricking the rotten fruit once, then pricking the good fruit, making your initials in the good fruit. Put the inoculated apple on a desk or table. Throw away the rotten fruit or compost it.

Develop a hypothesis about where rot will begin on the inoculated fruit.

Observe the inoculated fruit over the next several days. Note where rot begins. Explain why you think this is so. Also relate your findings to how apples should be handled at the orchard, in shipping, and in the grocery store, to ensure long shelf life.

science strategies apple flower botany

See “Favorite Photo Friday” for more about this photo! (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2012

Share Your Work!

Make sure that you share your October apple work on the Simple Science Strategies Blog Carnival. Entries are due on October 26, for posting by November 1.

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We have been busy working on nature study projects involving wildflowers, seeds and other fall wonders. The August/September garden is just bursting with color! In a couple of short weeks, the red maples will begin to announce the shifting of … Continue reading

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