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Monday, March 16

Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Kingston Trio)

You know you're a home school mom when you're husband brings you flowers and your first thought is, "We could dissect these!"  Has this ever happened to you?  ......maybe I'm just weird.
Spring is coming, and we're going to be focusing heavily on gardening.  I think that, if you want the kids to understand plant growth, they should understand plant anatomy.  This post is a unit study on plants and plant anatomy.  Feel free to share!
 
We began by examining the flower, intact.  The kids drew pictures of the tulip, and labeled the important parts.  Then we dug a little deeper, and learned the plant classifications : monocotyledon and dicotyledon, commonly referred to as monocots and dicots.
 
Then we pulled out the scalpel and cutting board, and went to work!  We worked our way from the top down, examining the petals and plant reproductive system first.  There are great (free) resources to help you with this part at the bottom of this post.  If you look closely, you can see the teeny ovules.
We carefully pulled apart the leaves and checked out how the plant gets its nutrients by capillary action.  There is a fantastic Young Scientists' kit that demonstrates capillary action through multiple experiments.  For a quick & easy show, though, you can stick a celery stalk into a glass with blue or red food coloring - leave it overnight and watch the magic as the stalk turns colors!

Finally, we got down to the bulb - the seed of this tulip plant.  Remember what Shrek said?  It's like an onion.  You have to peel back the layers (like baklava...hee hee).  The boys enjoyed peeling layer after layer off the bulb until they reached the stalk and fibrous roots.
Here are a couple of anatomical diagramming pages to get you started....

Resources :

If you don't already own the Magic School Bus DVD set, I highly recommend it.  Ninety percent of the time, I can find an introductory-level video that engages the kids in whatever science topic we will be discussing.  They retain a lot of information, without even realizing it, and all because Miss Frizzle makes it so fun!  This 8-dvd set has twenty-six hours of episodes!!

Experiment

Materials
  • 4 pots
  • 1 jar with a lid
  • 5 healthy plants  (same size & kind)
  • potting soil
  • water
  • labels
  • paper & crayons
Directions
  • Put one plant in a jar, with soil, and put the lid on it.  Label it "No Air."
  • Put a plant into a pot with no soil.  Label it "No Soil."
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Sun."  (Keep it in the dark)
  • Put a plant into a pot with soil and label it "No Water."  (Give it sun, but no water)
  • Put a plant into a pot and label it "Soil, Sun, Water, and Air."  (Give it all four)
  • Keep track of your plants' growth for 7-10 days.  Note any changes.
  • What did you learn about plant needs?
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