Botany with the Outdoor Hour Challenges

At the beginning of the summer we decided that we wanted to learn about plants and flowers. If you have followed my blog for awhile, you may remember that we decided to use the Apologia’s Botany book. Well, to make a long story short, it wasn’t for us. I think that it is geared for an older audience than what my kids are. It was too wordy or technical or something like that.

Since we were already on the flower quest and had decided to continue that for our summertime nature study, we were very thrilled when the Handbook of Nature Study blog released the ebook for studying garden flowers. This is a great and simple series of nature challenges. I highly recommend it. The ebook is very inexpensive. The depth of study was just perfect for us. Granted we didn’t learn a lot of latin terms, but we had fun playing with and learning about flowers. My kids have already decided that they want to do these challenges again next year. This is partly because, since we started them a ways into the summer, we weren’t able to do every single one. Anyway, if you’re looking to do some Botany with your family, check out the ebook here. By the way, you can find and look at the challenges for free on the Handbook of Nature Study blog, but the ebook comes with some really nice notebook pages to accompany the study.

Garden Flowers Notebook Pages

Some of the notebook pages that we did from the Garden Flower Challenges. (One of those is from the Crop Plant Challenges.)

Of course, the favorite thing for the kids out of these challenges was to grow flowers.


A close inspection of our Geranium plant.

We had quite a lot of fun looking closely at the flowers. Even my youngest really enjoyed learning about flowers.

Magnifying Glass

An exciting addition to our study was a microscope. After quite a bit of consideration and researching, I purchased this stereo microscope from Tobin’s Lab. This is one of the neatest things we’ve ever got. I was a bit afraid that the kids would bore with it quickly, so I emailed Tammy at Tobin’s Lab and asked her if my kids were too young for a microscope. She recommended this one and said that people from 3 – 93 love this one. She’s right. We keep it out and look at all kinds of things, but we really enjoyed looking at the flower parts and the pollen with the microscope.


The kids looked at the plants through the microscope over and over.

Looking at Cotyledon

Bean Seed

Another fun thing we did was to soak beans and look at the cotyledon. My daughter liked to look at the bean through the magnifying glass. The rest of us just used our naked eye.

Learning about pollen was fun too. As per the instructions of the Garden Flower Challenges, we took Q’tips and gathered pollen with them and then rubbed the pollen on notebook pages to have a closer look.

Garden Flowers Notebook Pages

You can’t really see the pollen in this picture, but it’s in the upper right hand corner. We also spent some time watching the bees–the master pollinators.

Blackberry Bee

Then we did one plant experiment was not part of the challenges, because we’d seen somebody else do it and my kids were very intrigued by it.

White Carnation/Food Coloring Experiment

White Carnation/Food Coloring Experiment

We put various amounts of food coloring in the water for these white carnations and then waited to see what happened. You can see what happened: Our carnations began changing colors. We did notice that the carnations with the higher concentration of food coloring had a bit more red in them. And as for the green food coloring, we couldn’t see any green in that carnation.

And last but not least, we just really enjoyed the flowers around our house. Here are a few of my favorite shots.



We have hydrangeas all around our house. I love that they still have flowers on them, this late in the summer.


We have a whole row of these pink rhododendrons behind our house. When they’re in bloom, it’s like our patio is on fire.


We don’t have many azaleas, but we appreciate them, because they are the flowers that announce that summer is about here.

I should have posted about our flower studies as we did them, because we did so much more and I’ve got a long post now and don’t think I should add another thing. We sure did enjoy learning about flowers and we hope to cultivate even more flowers next summer than we did this summer. And don’t forget to check out the Garden Flower Ourdoor Hour Challenges.

8 thoughts on “Botany with the Outdoor Hour Challenges

  • September 16, 2009 at 6:53 am

    What a wonderful study. We are looking forward to keeping up with the nature challenges this year. The kids are very excited about their new nature journals. I love all of your flower pitures.



  • September 16, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thanks Rhonda for reviewing the Garden Flower ebook. I really enjoyed seeing how you used the book and the notebook pages in your family.

    As always your photos really tell the whole story. Thank you again for giving your review and I hope that other families will take advantage of the information in the ebook to complete their own study of garden flowers.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  • September 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I completely identify with what you say about the Botany book. We have used two of the Zoology books and they have been fine. The Botany book even for my 10 yr old seems to technical.


  • September 18, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing the links. We recently bought a microscope too and the kids love it.

  • September 21, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Natalie planted white carnations (the small type) in her garden last year – hoping to watch them change colors. We haven't been successful so far, but it's neat to watch her try and experiment on her own. Those are really beautiful pictures of flowers. I love/hate Hydrangeas (sp?). They are so beautiful when they are healthy and in bloom, but so not beautiful when they are not. We had two bushes at our old house – they were in the shade and then perhaps their soil wasn't that great and the edges of their leaves and flowers always looked burnt. Perhaps, I should try to grow a bush again and just baby it and see what happens.

    Anyhow, love the nature study.


  • September 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Looks like you guys had great fun with your flower study! Did you start your flowers from seeds or were those flowers you had already?

    yolanda in tx (from AHE) :)

  • September 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Looks like you guys had great fun with your flower study! Did you start your flowers from seeds or were those flowers you had already?

    yolanda in tx (from AHE) :)

  • September 30, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I love the close-up pictures.

    As far as okra goes, I only eat it fried to a crisp. My parents eat in cooked with tomatoes, but not me and my family. Fried is as far as we get!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *