Thursday, March 13, 2008

Studying Plants Can be Interesting

It's been a long week. We've been using the plan I came up with last week and, despite our busy schedule, getting it all done. I'm hoping it gets easier to get it all done...the homeschool and the housework...because I'm beat. It's not helping that Sammy, Josh, Mika, and now I have been sick.

So what have we been doing?

We've been studying plants. Our unit study has included poetry, books, labeling diagrams, field trips, and art projects. It's been interesting and even a little fun.

We've been reading, studying, and memorizing the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer. We've talked about vocabulary words, the meaning of the poem, and the use of personification. We'll talk about using couplets in poetry tomorrow.

We've been using the book What is a Plant by Bobbie Kalman as our base text. It's been just right for my kids, giving enough information but not being over their head or too long. So far, we've read about what a plant is, about organisms that look like but are not plants, about the basic parts of a plant, and how they make food or get food (carnivorous plants). Mika is especially enthralled with Venus flytraps and wants me to buy her one. We'll continue next week with seeds, flowers, and more trees.

We've been reading other books that loosely tie in with the theme as well. We've enjoyed The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees by Jim Arnosky, Poisonous Plants by Suzanne M. Coil, and Fly Traps! Plans that Bite Back by Marin Jenkins.

For a science tie in, we've begun a couple of experiments. We've seen what happens to plants that don't get water by leaving celery out of water and then what happens when celery is left in sugar water. We are patiently waiting for two jars of seeds to sprout so we can learn about how roots and stems grow (we'll be turning them upside down after the roots/stems have begun growing). We are also waiting for our grass to grow in our animal pots so we can see what happens when plants don't get sunlight.

For field trips, we picked up a friend and headed over to a local nursery. We looked around at the different plants available and chose a few to plant at our house. The rain has come back with a vengeance so we are hoping it lets up before the plants die on us. I have a serious brown thumb so the plants will be lucky to survive anyway. It's all in the experience, right? After the nursery, we headed to a nearby park. We walked around the lake looking for leaves to bring home for an art project. After the walk (about 1 1/2 miles, I think), we played at the playground for a while before coming home.

Earlier in the week, we made Carle-like scenes depicting flowers or trees. The kids enjoyed that. Today we made plant tiles that will be magnets tomorrow after they are completely dry. I want to thank Home For Heaven's Sake for the idea and directions for this great craft. Be sure to drop by and visit her. First, we rolled out Sculpey clay. Then we gently pressed our leaves into the clay. After removing the leaves, we cut out the outline of the leaf or around the leaf outline if it was too complicated and then baked them.

Here's Mika painting one of the leaf tiles with acrylic paint. She's making sure to apply the paint somewhat heavy to make sure the paint gets into all the cracks before it dries.

After painting, we then used paper towels to wipe off the paint leaving just what has stained the clay. The color is darker where the veins of the leaves have printed into the clay.

Here are the finished leaves after glossy sealant has been applied. Aren't they pretty? I think I want to repeat this craft in the summer or fall when we have more leaves to choose from. The pickings are pretty slim in the winter. What you see above is bracken fern, part of a cedar branch, and two magnolia leaves.

It's been fun but I'm tired. Next week, we'll continue with our plant unit before moving on to rocks. I'll have to plan that one next week during the many free hours I have each day. LOL

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Anonymous said...

Looks like a very fun time! Love the leaves!

Pufferfish Mommy said...

Oooh! Those turned out GREAT!!! And it sounds like y'all had an awesome week learning about plants. I'm sure your kids will remember this one for many years to come. :)

Thanks for the link! :)

Home For Heaven's Sake and
Pufferfish Diaries

Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

It sounds like your unit study is coming along wonderfully. The leaves look lovely. I hope you feel better soon, being sick and taking care of kids is so hard :(