It is planting season here, so that means we have been spending a lot of time outside. It feels so good after spending a lot of time indoors during the winter. That also means we need to maximize our school time. We’ve taken a break from our scheduled science curricula to do a Plants Unit Study from Love at Home Education Curriculum. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to study relevant things. Learning about plants while we are spending so much time planting things – seems too easy, doesn’t it? Another favorite? All of my children learning about the same topic with activities at their level.
This unit study checks all of those boxes on my favorites list. Add in easy prep, printed or printable materials, and an easy-on-the-budget price and the Plants Unit Study is a winner all around. The last test? Using it. How often have you downloaded something that then sat in your computer? Guilty! Once I had shown our younger children the pages we would be using, they insisted we print it out and get started right away.
So I printed the full pdf. And then asked a teen daughter to get the materials organized. She did and marked for me the pages that need additional copies. A different daughter then took over putting everything together. We discovered that each of us saw the “proper” order for materials to be a bit different. That makes the printable curricula more amazing. You can order it in the way that makes the most sense to you.
I wanted to keep all the things that the older girls would need separate from the pages for the younger children. How do I know what was what? This is clear on the pages of the Plants Unit Study. For example, all of the vocabulary words are all together, a few cards to each page. The older girls were the only ones to need the last page (in addition to the earlier pages), the younger two needed only the first two pages.
This method continued for other activities and pages. Writing assignments are clear about what is required for each level. I loved that there is little-to-no hand-holding for older students. They have their topic or questions and are expected to complete their assignment. The younger children, with activities just right for their abilities, can have mom (or an older sibling) lead them through their assignments.
While the overall topic of plants was the same, my children were learning different things. The younger two, roughly 3rd and 5th graders, were learning about the parts of both flowers and trees. My lone middle schooler was taking things a bit deeper and drawing his own diagrams and labeling more detailed parts. The high school girls were looking at plants on the cellular level. They not only labeled the parts of a plant cell but also compared this to a human cell. As expected for older children, it was less learning and remembering of facts and more about relating and comparing those facts to something else.
We spent a little over a week going through the Plants Unit Study. Two days for the diagrams and labeling, and two days for the writing assignments. We also had vocabulary words for the week. We used our morning time for watching some relevant videos on YouTube and going over that day’s needed work. Then, the children went to work individually. I helped the younger two with some of the more difficult words and books for their research. Much of the work they did completely on their own. I love how this grows their confidence and independence.
We found the Recommended Book and Supplies list to be a good start in looking at books to use. We put a few of these titles on hold from our library, browsed the relevant sections for additional books, and found comparable selections from our own shelves. Because we enjoy gardening and planting trees, we had a broad selection to choose from.
We last did a botany study when all of our children were elementary age or younger (I think the eldest was 4th grade!). Only the older girls remember it. We shared throughout week two what each had learned during the first week. This was a good refresher for those that had covered this years ago. Even if we had covered the same information for each grade level, I like taking the time for each child to share. In the explaining they get those facts and memories settled in even deeper. Things stay with them a bit longer.
During this second week, we also cooked up the included recipe – tomato sauce. It is too early for fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, but store-bought worked just as well. We used the sauce in the making of lasagne for dinner. We also spent some time using all of our senses during a walk throughout our property. This may seem like an activity for the younger children, but our older ones need to revisit these things. Stripping things down to simply observing and experiencing is important, too.
No matter your children’s prior experience, a short unit study on an interesting and relevant topic is a great solution to burnout or spring fever. There are many other science and history studies at Love at Home Education. I cannot wait to see which one my children pick to do next!