Gardening is Home School Science and More!
(Collinsville, MS, USA)
I Dig My Home School Science Lessons!
We love using the Apologia Elementary Science curriculum along with notebooking for our home school science lessons.
After studying the Botany course, we carried our science right into the summer months with gardening. It is like having a mini-lab in your backyard or patio and kids love to "play" in the dirt!
It can be as simple as planting a flower bed, tending it by pulling weeds, watching out for insects and watering/fertilizing for growth.
Each step is a moment to pause and review materials already studied, or marvel at something new and research your find. The parts of a plant, the parts of a seed, the different kinds of leaves and flowers, how they are pollinated, who is doing the pollinating, and the list goes on.
A vegetable garden is another terrific home school science option. Let your child choose some seeds to plant, either vegetable or flower or herb, and give them a space of their own to tend.
Teach them the responsibility of watering, weeding and caring for their plants. They will enjoy picking the fresh produce that results and eating it, too!
Our son will stand in the garden and devour cherry tomatoes and fresh broccoli! We also tried a tee-pee trellis with pole beans for him to play in when he was younger.
We add Bible study when we talk about the parables of Jesus regarding seeds, soil and sowers. It is hard to overlook God's amazing creation when a tiny seed becomes a large plant producing good things to eat! Patterns in flowers, cycles of nature, and even the bugs and worms show His handiwork.
You can incorporate more science by studying the bugs in the garden, both harmful and beneficial; the use of fertilizers, both chemical and organic; the use of mulches, advantages and disadvantages; the effects of weather; soil testing and more.
We found several books with easy projects to make such as cold frames, soaker hoses, melon trellises, etc. to peek our child's interest.
These add other skills like measuring, organization and carpentry. And what child doesn't love to work with tools! Teach them the importance of choosing the correct tool for the job and caring for it properly.
This year we built a compost bin and are making our own compost. We plan to do some worm composting, too. These are ongoing (year round) science projects and lots of fun.
A good source for free information is the internet. We have enjoyed another source for a small fee at Green Thumb Family.com. It includes ebooks for children, copywork, butterfly gardening, and more.
We even incorporated business and finance into our study! Our flower beds are mulched with pinestraw to reduce insect and termite problems. Our son rakes straw in the nearby woods and hauls it to the beds to earn extra money. It is much cheaper than buying at the local nurseries, and he is learning a work ethic and pocketing a nice profit for his efforts.
If you have the space in your garden, you might also sell some of the produce. Many people love fresh produce, but cannot or don't want to garden for themselves. Your children can learn to price produce and count change, and gain people skills as they deal with customers.
There is also value in giving away produce and teaching a child generosity. Now you have added economics and life skills to your study.
Talk about the importance of eating of vegetables, and the benefit of vitamins they provide, and you have added health and nutrition to your curriculum. Get in the kitchen to prepare, cook, can or freeze your harvest and you have added home economics! This works for boys, too.
Notebooking has been an easy way to incorporate a review of what we have learned in our science curriculum and add language arts. And, it can be used in the summer like a garden journal.
Have your child record a plot of your garden and what was planted, where it was located and the date planted and harvested. It will be helpful next year when you plan your garden.
Detail your successes and failures, amounts harvested, fertilizers used, varieties planted, soil test results, etc. This is great writing practice especially when you incorporate copywork of garden quotes or verses from the Bible.
Add sketches to your notebook and you have added art to the mix!
Don't forget to take pictures of your child working in the garden from it's beginning to the end.
Create a scrapbook to record your memories and serve as a permanent record of your studies. Your family will enjoy looking at it during the winter months and dreaming of next year's "science" project!
A garden is like a unit study that covers so much more than just home school science!