One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is the versatility of it. One week can be completely by the book, organized and planned to the tee. Another week can be totally different, relaxed and interest based. As I mentioned in my post How to Choose a Homeschool Style, we are considered an eclectic homeschool. We mostly follow a planned curriculum, where I simply open a book and read the instructions for the day and away we go! We pull curriculum from several different sources because we like to keep things interesting.
We do a daily nature study, which is part of a Charlotte Mason homeschooling style. It’s simply an allotted amount of time every day to submerse yourselves in nature, studying specific items in detail or just simply observing and documenting as you or your child sees fit. In years past we have ordered a designated nature study program. This year, I decided to let Raygan help guide our studies based on her interests from week to week. We will be utilizing library books, online resources, field guides, first-hand experience and whatever else jumps out at us.
Over the past two weeks, we have studied seeds, per Raygan’s request. The thought came to her as we were sitting on the porch outside, noticing how our lemon balm had grown shoots with flowers that contained their itty bitty seeds to reproduce with. Natural curiosity sparked the topic of this study, just as I had hoped it would!
First we gathered a few books from the library, which were all fabulous in their own way. We loved the illustrations and the plethora of information that was included in each.
- A seed is the start – Melissa Stewart
- The Tiny Seed – Eric Carle
- A Seed is Sleepy – Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long
- Oh say can you Seed? – Bonnie Worth
- From Seed to Plant – Gail Gibbons
We collected an old dried bean pod from our bean teepee, before we tore up the vines to replace with winter squash, opened it up and removed one of the seeds/beans from inside. We placed it in a clear jar with a few cotton balls that we kept damp and observed its growth over the two week time span. We saw the bean crack open and shoot the beginning of its stalk up towards the sunlight where it was sitting. We also noticed the roots that emerged, making their way downward, further into the shade of the cotton. This up close observation granted us front row seats to the start of a bean/seeds life cycle.
Raygan used Play doh to create her own version of a seed’s life cycle. She chose to model that of an eggplant because she’s really into the color purple right now and she had “the perfect eggplant mold” to use for such a project. To be completely honest, I was quite impressed with her creation! (The yellow thing is the sun, duh!)
Our sprouting bean seed allowed us to see the many changes that occur from the outside and with a bit of dissecting, we got to see the inside too. We studied the anatomy of a bean, which is considered a dicot, meaning that it has 2 cotyledons. A cotyledon is a significant part of the embryo within the seed of a plant, and is defined as “the embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first to appear from a germinating seed.” The number of cotyledons present is one characteristic used by botanists to classify the flowering plants. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
In our time outdoors, we went on a seed scavenger hunt, trying to find as many different shapes and sizes that our back yard would provide. It’s the perfect time of year to find plants (like the lemon balm mentioned before), that are “going to seed” or getting ready to release their seeds to start their life cycle all over again. Some seeds will lie dormant until the next season when the temperature and climate is more favorable for it to regenerate in. Ray also picked up a really cute mushroom, though it actually releases spores vs. seeds. We didn’t dive into these topics but they would be cool additional things to research!
And of course, what would be more hands on when learning about seeds than planting seeds and watching them grow? With the heat of the summer at its highest and the rain having been at its lowest, a few of our garden goodies had come to the end of their life cycles. We removed several plants from our beds, which created new space for a couple of new fall/winter crops. We planted some dinosaur kale, mustard greens, a micro green blend, and some winter squash. The tiny seeds quickly sprouted with the influx of rain we’ve had in our area this past week. Our land, garden, and animals have all rejoiced and appreciated the refreshment!
Overall, our seed unit study was really enjoyable and informative. We reviewed a few concepts that we already knew and learned several that we didn’t. Did you know that grains of rice are considered a seed?! I guess it makes sense, it’s just something I never really thought about before. It’s amazing the things that I learn right along side of Raygan through these homeschool adventures.
Check out some of the clickable pics below that we used for references when learning about the anatomy and classification of seeds!
I hope this collection of information is useful to you and your family, whether you’re homeschoolers or not! If you enjoy unit study style learning, please feel free to utilize the ideas and resources that I’ve provided. If you have any other thoughts to add to this study, or decide to try it out in your home, please comment below and let me know! I’d be honored if you would share this article with your friends and family who are fellow home educators and please be sure to give credit where it is due. All references should remain linked to their originators.