Thursday, June 25, 2015

Botany in the Backyard - An Apologia Science Review

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I have had the treat this spring of using the Apologia - Exploring Creation with Botany curriculum.  (Thank you, Apologia, for providing me with this curriculum to review!)

I have been eying this particular Botany curriculum for a few years, but my kids were a bit young, so I wanted to wait until they could appreciate it more.  They are 5 and (almost) 7 now, plus I decided it would be more fun to do this study with friends and the group has a couple of 8 year olds in it.  These Exploring Creation books are said to be for K-6th grade, so this was a perfect time for us to start!

We school year round, so I have always had vision of being able to do a botany study in the spring and summer when we could actually be outside exploring the nature that we are learning about.  Usually my grand ideas end up falling flat, but this one is actually happening!

Studying botany right in our back yard!

Once a week, three other families come over to my house and we have class in my back yard.  I set up a table, throw a big blanket on the grass, and we are ready to go!  Here is what a typical class looks like:

Arrival Activity

I bought the Co-Op Guide to help me turn this curriculum into a fun group experience and one thing that it suggests is having an arrival activity each week.  This is a fun way to start the day, and gets the kids thinking about the topic that we will be learning about.  Some of the ideas have been: making tissue paper flowers, making a Q-Tip Bee, and taking seeds out of a melon and estimating how many there are.  Our nature journals also have a coloring page each week, so I let the kids do that at this time too.  Sometimes I use this time to review what we learned the last week and let the kids share any extra pages they did in their nature journals.

Pollinating flowers with the Q-tip bee!

Class Connection

After the arrival activity, we all run across the yard and sit on a blanket that is on the grass.  For some reason this is my favorite part of the morning =)  This class connection is also an idea from the Co-Op Guide, but I have tweaked it to suit our needs.  We sing a song, review our memory work, and I give the kids time to each share about something nature related they saw or did in the past week.  The kids really enjoy this time and I do too!

Teaching Time

Next, we head back to the table for teaching time.  This is when we really dive into the content of the chapter.  So far we have covered topics like seeds, fruit, and pollination.  You will notice that all of the pictures in this post are from our pollination lesson.  I take a really hand-on approach to this because all of the kids in my group are in the lower age range for this curriculum.  I love that I can pull out the information that is appropriate for them, but if you had older kids, you could really dive in deep and learn so much more!

Hard at work drawing and writing what they just learned about pollination!

Usually this time will include a page or two in the nature journal.  We have labeled parts of a plant, traced leaves, drawn flowers, and made up stories.  There is so much available in the Nature Journal for each lesson that we don't even get to it all.  I tell the kids that they can do the other pages at home if they want to.

Since we are doing our lessons outside, I always include a nature walk of some sort.  We have collected leaves, looked for certain types of flowers, pollinated flowers, and more!  This gives the kids a good chance to get up and move around since our meeting time is pretty long.

On a nature walk, enjoying God's creation.

Review and Snack

The last part of the day consists of a snack and a review time.  We send the kids to play for a few minutes while we set up the snack.  Since the topic is plants, there are always so many great opportunities to incorporate the theme for the week into our snacks.  Now, I am not a fancy, creative pinterest-worthy kind of mom, so I'm not talking about cutting strawberries to look like bees or designing an edible garden.  I'm talking simple ideas =)  The week we learned about seeds, we ate seed butter on Ezekiel Bread (which is made from seeds and other stuff).  When we talked about fruits, we ate all kinds of fruits and veggies, after discovering which veggies were actually fruits!  The week we studied pollination was especially fun!  The kids got to be pollinators by transferring "pollen" from a powdered sugar doughnut to a plain one.

The kids loved pretending to 'pollinate' the doughnuts!

The Co-Op Guide always has a good picture book suggestion, so we read that while the kids eat.  Then we do a final review and add a lapbook type piece to our journals.  Sometimes this time will include a little experiment for the kids to see in action what we have been learning about.

Finishing up the day (with the healthy part of our snack) drawing a story about pollination.

There are just so many options in this curriculum.  Honestly, I wish that I could take two meeting times to cover the material, but since I am doing it in a group, meeting once a week for a longer time works for us.  You can get a better idea of what is all included by taking a look at sample pages of the text book, notebooking journal, and junior notebooking journal.

I love doing this study as a group and I love being able to do it outside, surrounded by our subject matter!  

The material covered in the text book goes pretty deep.  If you only have a Kindergartener or 1st grader, I would probably wait a couple of years to do this study.  If you have older elementary kids and younger ones, then it is great because you can have the older kids read the chapter and fully participate in all the activities.  You can just include the younger kids in the parts that are interesting for them.

Would You Like to Try Apologia Botany for Free?

When I was ordering the books for my class, I accidentally more than I needed.  Instead of returning them, I thought I could bless one of you with a set!

One person will win an Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany textbook and a notebooking journal (regular level, not junior).  So, enter below for a chance to win! (Don't see the raffelcopter widget?  Click Here.)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I already have this lined up for next year, very excited!

    (It makes it difficult to trust you when you have contradictions in your post. At the beginning, you said apologia provided you the materials, then at the end you ordered extras by mistake and have one to give away. It's kind of unclear...)

    1. I am sorry for the lack of clarity. Hopefully this will help.

      Apologia provided me with a textbook and notebook for my child in exchange for a review.

      I ordered (and paid for) extra resources for the other children in my group. The other families paid me back for the resources they needed. I realized that I had ordered one textbook and one notebook too many and instead of returning them, I thought I would offer a giveaway to my readers.

      So, the review is sponsored by Apologia, but the giveaway is technically sponsored by me (since I paid for the books that are being given away). I completely see how that could be confusing from what I wrote in the post. I hope this helps clear it up!

  2. I've been eyeing this particular Apologia book and journal for months now. We have some homeschool friends down the street who I'd like to involve in our science studies and this is perfect! Great giveaway!!

    1. That would be perfect! I wish my homeschool friends were just down the street ;)

  3. i haven't but i would love to now that i've read about it.

  4. We're using Apologia's Astronomy right now, Botany looks great! I'm thinking about using their chemistry book next year. Your co-op group looks like so much fun!

    1. The Astronomy curriculum looks great! I hope you are enjoying it. Maybe we will get to that one next year =)

  5. We haven't yet, but plan to in the future. It looks like such a neat curriculum!

  6. I have not used it before but have heard good things about Apologia.

  7. This looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing, Amy. :-)

  8. We've used the Apologia jr high and high school books for years, but I've never tried the younger years. :-)

  9. I have used bits and pieces of other apologia sets, but not this one - this would be perfect for next year's science!

  10. No, I have looked but not bought.

  11. I've used some Apologia, but not this one yet. I bet we would enjoy it. I love the way you're doing your class, it sounds great! (I'm not a Pinterest mom either, and I'm really impressed with your snack ideas!)

  12. Thank you to everyone for entering! The winner has been posted above.


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