Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Growing a Sweet Potato in Water

Monday, May 27th, 2013

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Growing a sweet potato in water is a great way to see plant roots growing. You will need a sweet potato, a jar, water, and four toothpicks.

You will want to dip the sweet potato into the water about a third of the way down. Stab the toothpicks into the potato to keep it in place. Fill the jar with water. Now watch the roots grow right in front of your very eyes.

First you will see stubble, like a man who hasn’t shaved in a couple of days. This happens within the first few days. Then a few of the roots grow longer, branching out with root hairs. Since the jar is clear, you can see all this happening.

Other people buy expensive kits that have glass walls on either side so that you can see the roots of carrots and radishes growing, but the dirt is still in the way. With growing a sweet potato in water, you can see the root developing without any dirt in the way, and it doesn’t cost a lot.

growing-a-sweet-potato-in-water-2In biology this year, we studied the sections of a root, looking at the root under a microscope. The children were fascinated when they looked at prepared slides of monocot and dicot roots, which apparently have a different structure. Monocot roots have a circle shape in the middle, whereas dicots have an X shape.

The main way to know if a plant is monocot or dicot is to look at its leaves. If the leaves are straight up and down like leaves of grass, it’s a monocot. If the leaf has veins branching out, it’s a dicot.

You can see all the other activities we did in biology this year in the Unit Study Treasure Vault.

Linked to Laugh and Learn

Botanical Gardens and Conservatory

Friday, April 27th, 2012

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One of my favorite places to go in the spring is to my local botanical gardens. My children enjoy seeing the buds come out on the trees and the sprigs of green pushing up out of the soil. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and it feels good to breathe in the fresh air after a long winter.

A large pond with waterfowl is surrounded by weeping willows and pink blooming hawthorn trees. My husband and I saw an osprey swoop down and catch a fish out of the water, later settling into the high branch of a tree. My children tried to touch the ducks, who soon ran away, realizing we had not brought any bread. We walked around the pond, pausing as the children noticed new birds or plants. I held my husband’s hand and smiled.

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Our botanical gardens include a conservatory, which is an indoor garden with glass windows. This garden is already profusely growing in all directions because it has survived the winter, probably with air climate control. A couple of short bridges cross an artificial stream, which begins with a low waterfall. The sound of the splashing waterfall is tranquil and lovely. Orchids thrive in all their elegant beauty, along with many other types of flowers and cacti. Plants overlap the path low to the ground, and more flowers cascade off the trees overhead. The conservatory almost makes you feel like you’re in a jungle.

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A Japanese garden is carefully manicured, with clipped trees and bushes that remind you of bonzai trees. A medium-sized pond holds large fish swimming around, and a waterfall completes the scene. A few benches intersperse the beautiful enclosed landscape. This would be a perfect place to sit, sketch, and watercolor nature. The trees, plants, and shrubs are reflected peacefully in the water of the pond.

To enjoy more pictures of the botanical gardens, click here.

The Wonder of Spring

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

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Watch my children as they squeal with joy at the wonder of spring. Why not grab your camera and do the same? Try to get close-ups of green plants peeking up out of the soil, new buds on branches, and birds preparing their nests!

Autumn Leaf Rubbings

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

leaf-rubbingsThe best way to do leaf rubbings is to use oil pastel crayons. They are like creamy crayons, and the rubbings come out much nicer than ordinary crayons. I always cut the paper in half so the children can do one leaf per page, labeling each kind of leaf after doing the rubbing.

Always choose darker colors for the crayons; the lighter colors don’t provide enough contrast. Hold the crayon sideways, parallel to the paper. In other words, use the side of the crayon. Make sure to get good coverage so that you can see the veins of the leaf. Pay attention to the edges of the leaf, to make sure the shape of the leaf is clear.

 

black-leaf-rubbingYou can hole-punch the pages and make a book out of the leaf rubbings by adding a construction paper cover and binding it with yarn.

Another variation is to grab some black paper and do a leaf rubbing with a lighter-colored crayon. Yellow, light green, or light orange work well. The leaf rubbings come out looking gorgeous. And if you shine a black light on it, it will glow in the dark!

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