Plants are the easiest form of wildlife to study because they stay put. We suggest that you start with the trees, shrubs, and flowers nearest you and learn some thing about them before taking walks through the forest.
Try learning just one plant a week, finding out its name and something about it. Invest in the Familiar Trees and Familiar Flowers books of the Audubon Pocket Guide series and the Trees and Wildflowers books of the Audubon First Guide series. Just by studying these four books and identifying the trees and flowers your children see, you will be able to cover much more than the basic knowledge of plants grades K – 8 require.
Plant study is best done in the spring and summer. Leaves and flowers are easy to press in layers of newspaper sandwiched between two pieces of 1/4″ plyboard held together by bungee cords. After allowing them to dry in the press for two weeks, the leaves or flowers can be mounted on heavy paper. Position them on the paper with small dots of glue, then cover them with clear Contact paper. Each page can include information about the plant, and can be kept in a notebook. If your children are keeping a nature journal, pressed leaves and flowers can easily be mounted on the journal pages.
Another wonderful way to study plants is to have a garden. If space is limited, even a window box of flowers will do. Children love flowers, and enjoy having their own plot of ground to plant whatever they want.
Children are particularly fascinated with plants that attract butterflies or hummingbirds and plants with medicinal value.
Resources for Studying Plants
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B004X2CE8C” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31S7LMJ6tNL._SL160_.jpg” width=”108″]Audubon Society Field Guides are the BIG, comprehensive guides to North American trees or wildflowers.
National Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Wildflowers — National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region — National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0590054864″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510BC8QD7KL._SL110_.jpg” width=”79″]National Audubon Society First Field Guides
These first field guides are terrific investments. They are a combination study guide and field guide to the most common trees or wildflowers for ages 9 – 18.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0761112049″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51euRFqnSHL._SL110_.jpg” width=”59″] Fandex books are shaped like fans and each fold-out “fan” card identifies a common tree or wildflower with a lifelike cut-out image and lots of information.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0395346762″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5167WZ734BL._SL110_.jpg” width=”84″]Field Guide Coloring Books contain illustrations of the most common trees or wildflowers. Good to use to make a field journal. Our boys have traced or photocopied portions of these books and mounted pictures and dried specimens to make their own field guides. All ages.
How the Forest Grew[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”068811508X” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Q3VSRX0GL._SL160_.jpg” width=”116″]
The book contains the clearest explanation of forest growth we’ve ever seen. After reading it, you and your children will be able to tell the age and stage of growth of most wooded areas. Elementary ages.
The Botany Coloring Book[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0064603024″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hs1-TE1sL._SL160_.jpg” width=”116″]
Contains detailed drawings of plants, plant parts, and cross-sections of plant tissues, with explanations of processes, labeling of parts, and other botanical information. Comprehensive enough to serve as a high school botany course. Middle school ages and up.
The World of Plants (Great science adventures)[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1929683057″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fLpc-y5eL._SL160_.jpg” width=”123″]
This is the best science study on plants out there for grades K – 8. It has 24 lessons that thoroughly cover all that age group needs to learn about plants. In each lesson, students make a small booklet about what they are studying using masters provided in the book, they perform lab activities and present the results in colorful posters or table-top presentations, and they choose from a list of extra activities to broaden their knowledge of plants. Teacher pages include vocabulary words, concept maps, assessments, assignments for all grade levels, and enrichment activities. This is a super resource that kids will love using, especially boys, because it’s so hands-on.