Today’s Impromptu Botany Lesson

Today’s Impromptu Botany Lesson


This afternoon I let the girls run around in the front yard while Ben napped. I looked out and Bella had amassed quite the collection which she wanted me to inspect. I was almost dismissive of her but then saw an opportunity to slow down, look more closely and learn something. And teach something. So slowly, carefully, I allowed her to show me each item in her hoard. I admired each one, examined it closely, wondered at it. And began to ask a few questions, to talk about them with her, to investigate.

We talked about the shapes and textures of the leaves. Is the edge of that leaf rough or smooth? Is that leaf fuzzy or smooth? Do you see the little hairs on it? How do they feel?

We looked at the color, the spots, the variations in different leaves from one plant. We tried to determine which leaves were older which were newer. The smaller ones on the tips of the branches are younger. Are they a different color? Do the feel differently? Softer? Harder?

We counted flower petals. Azaleas have five. Lilacs have four.

We compared leaves from different plants: Which is softer the leaves from the azalea or from the holly? from the rhododendron or the rose bush?

We didn’t worry too much about identification of new plants, just looked at them carefully and wondered; but we talked about characteristics of species she already knows.

We uprooted maple seedlings that were springing up in the beds and looked at the roots, counted the leaves. Wondered at the very small leaves that were just opening.

We looked at holes in the peach trees and wondered if caterpillars had been chewing on them. Bella wondered if caterpillars eat every kind of leaf. Which kinds of leaves have holes in them?

So many things to notice and observe. At one point we heard a seagull cry. Bella recognized the sound and looked up to spot the gull soaring overhead. Later she ran to get her new binoculars to observe some other bird.

I gave Bella an empty chocolates box for her collection. It contains the mess and the white bottom of the box provides a nice contrast to look at the leaves and flowers more easily. I’ve got several such boxes I’ve been saving because they seemed sturdy and potentially useful. I’m thinking a Mod Podge decoupage of flowers from the seed catalogs might be fun to decorate the top.

And now they are playing that they’re at the beach, jumping from the driveway into the grass.I’m going back to the beach. I’m going into the water, And saying something about: I’m going back to the science. Or is it silence?

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