Garden science with the boys

Botany is not often regarded as an exciting area of scientific study for early discovery learners.  I would invite you to rethink that idea.  This week we began our botany unit with my oldest grandsons, ages 7 and 5.  Before we had finished the first day’s work, the three-year-old was right in the middle of it!  What were we doing?  Looking at seeds.The boys learned the difference between a monocot seed, and a dicot.  (A monocot has a single cotyledon; a dicot has two.)  We dissected seeds, talked about how they grow, and what to expect from each.

What did we learn?

  • Botany has some odd sounding terms, especially when coming from a three-year-old.
  • Bean seeds can be difficult to split unless you soak them first.
  • Cilantro seeds divide in half beautifully with very little encouragement at all.
  • We had more types of garden seeds that are dicot.
  • Most importantly, we learned that looking at things differently helps you see what you had initially missed.  Isn’t that the basis for all academic study?

Currently, there is a wet paper towel with six different types of seeds resting on my kitchen window sill.  We will check on their progress daily to see which type sprouts most quickly.  That will lead to a discussion of germination dates and, eventually, harvest estimates.

I realize they will not remember half the vocabulary we used (but they do have more words to pull from if they so choose), but I do expect that they will spend the next six months trying to split seeds and observing more closely how plants grow.  And that is exactly what I am hoping to see.

Today’s plan?  Roots!  Carrots anyone?