Since there are no botany texts written for elementary and high school students, until now those of us who wanted to study botany had to create our own courses from the ground up. The Botany Adventure unit study solves that problem and does a great job of structuring a botany course that is both enjoyable and educational for students in upper elementary grades through high school. Since it is quite extensive, you will need to plan on one or two semesters to complete it, depending upon the depth of study. This can easily qualify as a high school lab course if students complete most of the activities.
Botany Adventure! provides lesson plans, experiments with detailed lab sheets, flash cards, answer key, and lists of required supplies and suggested resources--all in one book. You will also need one or more "reference books" for information. While particular books are not required, two of the most useful are The Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young and A Beka's Biology text. You might want to purchase these two to have on hand, then borrow others from the library as needed.
The first part of the book provides plans for covering thirteen topics such as roots, stems, flowerse, reproduction, and trees. These plans include suggested readings, research activities, questions to answer, experiments, websites, microscope activities, and further research suggestions. These are quite detailed, providing a "road map" for tackling each topic. If you use every question and activity provided, the result will be a very comprehensive course. The structuring of questions and activities sets this up as primarily a "discovery" approach to learning.
Following the lesson plans are forty-four lab activities. These lab activities sometimes require additional research. Microscope work is optional, but I would highly recommend that all high school students use a microscope and complete the related activities. The other experiments are practical for homeschoolers, using easily available resources for the most part rather than traditonal lab equipment.
.The entire study focuses heavily on learning-by-doing. It will definitely require preparation and presentation time by parents. I would suggest that parents complete their lesson plans over the summer before beginning the course. The biggest task will be assigning pages from the "reference books." Collecting lab supplies ahead of time will also make things easier once school begins. Once these tasks are completed, the course should be fairly easy to manage.
Relatively little written work is required, although students should complete at least one research report. However, students compile a notebook as they work through the study, including their lab sheets, collected specimens, drawings, vocabulary definitions (if required), and other pertinent work. Parents who want more written work might have students write out answers to some of the questions posed in the lessons rather than discussing them.
The appendix of this book is more significant than most. Here's where you find a list of vocabulary words for students to master, a list of required supplies, sources for scientific supplies, a list of prepared slides that will be helpful, lists of lab supplies required for each experiment, a list of recommended books, the answer key for questions posed within the lesson plans, and an extensive set of flash cards printed on card stock with stick on labels (these pages need to be cut into fourths).
These items in the appendix are critical to the course. If students master the vocabulary words, they will have accomplished much of what is typically coverd in high school and college level botany courses that tend to be vocabulary intensive. The flashcards, too, help students master essential concepts such as flower parts, leaf shapes, and root types.
Lesson plan pages make record keeping and planning simple, although a blank lesson plan page allows you to create your own plans. Planning pages have space for recording other resources you will be using. The lesson plan pages and lab sheets are reproducible for family use only.
While this course might require a bit more work than some other high school lab science courses, I think both students and parents are likely to enjoy it more than traditional courses.
You can purchase Botany Adventure! in either printed book or ebook format.