One of the exciting aspects of learning about herbal medicine is sharing my love of plants with my children. Besides involving my children in various herbal medicine making projects, I am always on the lookout for educational materials that will help them learn about herbs. Exploring Creation with Botany allowed us all to learn botany together.
Learning with My Children
Last year, we focused on the human body using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology. We coupled our book studies with a few of the Body of Evidence DVD’s (Answers in Genesis), which gave us (I say us…the kids aren’t the only ones learning) a solid basic understanding of human anatomy and physiology.
We recently moved to the wildflower capital of Texas. From spring to summer there are fields of beautiful wildflowers and herbs calling my name. It has been my desire to get out in nature and learn to identify the plants around me so that I don’t have to depend on commercial products to treat my family.
The problem is, I don’t always recognize the plants. I have been working on teaching myself botany/plant identification by keying out the plants around our property using Botany in a Day. My kids love going out with me on nature walks. I decided that this year would be a great year to study botany more in depth.
We decided to use Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Botany. I have been very pleased with the Exploring Creation series. The information is presented in an engaging manner that doesn’t go over the kids’ heads, although the material is pretty in-depth. The best thing about this series is that it is presented from a Christian, creationist view-point. There are sections of the book that discuss evolution, but it is always done from a teaching viewpoint (“this is what evolutionists believe and this is what we believe and why” type of thing).
For our studies, we used both the botany textbook and the accompanying notebooking journals. My 11 year old used the “regular journal” (more writing) and the 8 year old used the “junior journal” (more drawing/coloring). These journals aren’t a necessary part of the curriculum, but the girls really enjoyed the extra hands-on activities the journals provide.
The reason I liked the journals is because 1) it keeps all their learning activities in one place, 2) it provides extra learning activities (crossword puzzles, cutout projects, coloring pages, Bible verses), and 3) it is a great time saver for mom. I love to do extra activities for learning, but with soon-to-be seven children I run out of time to create the cool stuff. Using the journals frees me up to do other necessary things.
How Exploring Creation with Botany Has Helped Us
One of the main skills needed in learning the plants around us is learning to use plant/flower guides to “key out” the plants. The botany textbook covers the types of information needed to use plant/flower guides. We covered the differences between monocots and dicots. We learned about the different types of flowers, leaves, roots, and stems. We learned about the reproductive parts of a flower. All of these items are used to observe and identify the plants around us.
And while all of these things are important, there were many bits of information we picked up that simply delighted us and caused us to be more amazed at our wonderful Creator. When we go out looking at flowers, we can identify members of the Asteraceae family (which includes dandelions, daisies, sunflowers, and marigolds) by observing the hundreds of individual FLOWERS located on a SINGLE STEM! Yes, look closely at the dandelion and you will see each small little flower packed onto the head of the stem. That is why when the dandelion flower goes to seed, there are many seeds attached to the head of the stem…waiting to be blown away!
One of the best things about learning botany with my children is taking the knowledge we have learned and getting outside and seeing it for ourselves. Their faces light up when they have read about something and then they go out and find it for themselves. And this kind of learning isn’t something that goes in one ear and comes out the next–this is the kind of learning that sticks with you for a lifetime.
I was recently listening to an interview with a well-known herbalist from Germany and when asked what got her interested in learning about herbs, she declared it was her grandmother who took her out to the meadows when she was a young child to collect herbs. What a legacy we are able to leave for our children when take the time to teach them! It is my hope that this year’s lessons in botany will spur a lifetime love of plants.