Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum Book and Resource List

Welcome to the Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum Book and Resource List! This list is to give you an idea of what will be needed if you are using Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum along with some helpful tips and other information. For details about the curriculum itself please click here.
The Guest Family
© Guest Hollow, LLC

Guest Hollow's Botany Curriculum books

Literature-based botany that’s engaging and fun!

In order to use Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum, you will need to obtain the scheduled books and other items separately. You may be able to borrow many for FREE from your local library! Check out the F.A.Q. below for tips on how to save money when using a literature-based curriculum. We hope you will enjoy this Guest Hollow, LLC curriculum!

Every purchase comes with a printable book list!

Every purchase of Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum comes with a FREE printable book list to help you with your planning and shopping.

The printable version of the book list features:

  • The ISBN number and author’s name
    You can make sure your copy of the book matches the one in the schedule.
  • Notification of when each book or item is used
    You can plan ahead when to check out books from the library. Books used throughout the year are marked “multiple weeks,” so you can decide whether you want to purchase them vs. borrow them.
  • Checklists for planning
    A handy checklist helps you plan if you are going to buy or borrow a book. It can also help you choose the format of your books (physical copy, e-book, or audio book).
  • Consumables are marked
    You’ll get advance notice of which items are consumable, so you’ll know what you may need to purchase and how many copies you may want to get if you are using the curriculum with multiple students.

Here’s an example of the printable book list:

Keep scrolling to see the full online book list (below the F.A.Q. on this page).

Homeschool botany curriculum book list sample

We’ve scheduled in lots of colorful, fact-filled, interesting and engaging books for this year’s botany study! Before taking a look at the books and resources, we’ve addressed some common questions:

Book and Resource F.A.Q.

No. We’ve ranked items in the book list at the beginning of the printable schedule to help you plan your purchases. If you are on a strict budget, don’t have a good library system, or need to limit your student’s amount of reading, the ranking system will help you prioritize items.

Items we feel shouldn’t be dropped or substituted are marked with a #1.
Other items are ranked as follows:
#2: This item is not absolutely necessary, but highly recommended.
#3: This item is optional but recommended.
#4: This item is optional and less important than the others

Some customers only use books ranked 1 and 2.

You can also use substitutes from your own home or local library. For example: There is a scheduled book about George Washington Carver. If you can’t obtain that book, you can use a different book about Carver or a book about another famous botanist during the same weeks. Keep in mind that the scheduled books were all hand-picked for their content and presentation.

Some books are marked “unscheduled.” These books are optional and are not featured in the curriculum schedule. They are intended to potentially enhance your studies, and you can fit them in whenever you have the time for them (or ignore them completely, if you wish).

We were once homeschoolers, and we know what it’s like living on a budget. I wrote a blog post to help you SAVE MONEY when using a literature-based curriculum. In the post you’ll find handy tips on where to get books, what subscriptions can help out, what some libraries offer for free, where our customers go for used books, and how to find books our customers are selling when they are done. Take a look:

How to Save Money When Using a Literature-Based Curriculum

Our customers frequently resell their used Guest Hollow homeschool curriculum books on our Facebook Groups. Here’s a list of groups you can join and post in! We encourage you to try and recoup some of your investment in books when you are done by posting them for sale in our groups.

You may NOT resell, share, or distribute any of Guest Hollow’s digital products (or printed out copies of our digital products) which includes but is not limited to schedules, workbooks, printables, and other materials.

Every student’s reading ability and interest differs. If you have a reluctant reader or a student whose reading skills are not fully developed, you can do some of the following things:

  • Read books out loud
    You can read some or all of the books to or with your student. This is a terrific way to participate in what s/he is learning, too! Our children loved read-alouds, even in high school.
  • Use audiobooks
    Audiobooks can be obtained from or a variety of other places. There are some benefits to using audiobooks. They can be listened to in the car, during lunch, while doing chores, while keeping hands occupied (knitting, coloring, etc.), and other times when print books don’t work as well.
  • Don’t overwhelm
    It may not be the best choice to do more than one literature-based program at a time with a student who doesn’t like reading. Don’t be surprised if this reluctant attitude toward reading changes during the course of the program, though. Many of our customers have told us their reluctant readers learned to love reading using our curriculum!

You’ll have to check with your local educational authorities or in some other way determine if Guest Hollow meets requirements since states and colleges have different expectations.

When we were teaching our kids, we usually had what we thought of as a “core” curriculum (science, geography, or history). Because these programs were so literature-rich, we didn’t do a separate literature course. This enhanced our children’s retention and enjoyment of the material they were learning, since their reading assignments complimented their studies. Of course our kids also did plenty of reading in their free time as well!

Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum covers a lot of different types of information. We think the BEST curriculums are those that are multidisciplinary. We believe subjects don’t exist in a vacuum, so we like to tie different subjects together, when possible, to expand students’ understanding of specific topics or things they encounter in various scheduled books and/or videos.

Additional credits could possibly be earned for history, literature, and home economics (or some type of cooking course).

Don’t forget to research your local requirements and consult the local experts in your area! We are in NO way advising what credits you should assign. You are ultimately responsible for researching this topic and deciding what will work for you and your family based on your local requirements, future plans, college requirements, and other considerations.

Science is full of historical discoveries and persons who changed our way of thinking about things. We believe that learning a bit of history makes some concepts clearer and more meaningful (as well as memorable).

Warning! Preview all materials! I strongly recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your student. Every family is different in what they find offensive! Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below.

Books use over multiple weeks:
Botany for Dummies
Note: There is some evolution in this book. I’ve marked the sections of the book which mention it in the schedule, so those of you who don’t believe in evolution can be forewarned and skip those pages. I can’t guarantee I made note of every single instance, so preview the text, if that is a concern!

Botany For Dummies

Although this book is aimed at college students, I chose it because it covers a variety of topics and explains many concepts in an easy to understand manner. 

Some of the book is going to be over a younger student’s head. I’ve marked in the schedule which portions I think should be skipped for middle school grades.

If you are using this book with a middle-schooler, I recommend it as a read-aloud so you can discuss some of the more difficult concepts.

I had a very difficult time finding a botany text that is appropriate for middle school kids through high school. Either the texts were too simple, too complicated or just didn’t match what I was looking for. There aren’t a lot of botany courses out there for homeschoolers! Botany for Dummies is a great compromise.
Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom
Note: There is some evolution mentioned in this book.
Trees, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds

If you have a younger middle school student or need an option that’s easier than Botany For Dummies, I’ve scheduled this book in. It’s a very visual book with lots of photos.
Botany in 8 Lessons
NOTE: Please make sure you buy the FULL text I’ve linked to, NOT the student text with the white cover that is sold on Amazon.
Botany in 8 Lessons by Ellen McHenry

I love all of Ellen’s curricula! Botany in 8 lessons has a text stuffed with easy-to-understand info, activities, and printables. The text says it’s for grades 4-8, but don’t worry, Ellen’s materials cover some pretty advanced material that I believe is fully appropriate for high schoolers, and even adults!
The Botany Coloring BookThe Botany Coloring Book

This is a great supplement, but it can get quite complicated on some pages. I marked which pages should be used with younger students, and which pages I recommend only for high schoolers due to the complexity of the various topics.

I recommend you do NOT get it, if you have a younger student who is easily overwhelmed by detail.
A Gardener's Latin: The language of plants explainedA Gardener’s Latin: The language of plants explained

“Every gardener needs to know their Latin names. They may look confusing at first, but once you understand what certain key words mean, impenetrable-sounding and hard-to-pronounce species names are suddenly demystified. Many Latin names hide the secrets of where the plant is found, its colour, flowering times, leaf pattern, natural habitat and all sorts of other information that’s extremely useful to the gardener: if you want a plant for a shady place, choose one with a name ending in sylvestris (‘of woods’), while if your garden is dry, look out for the suffix epigeios (‘of dry places’).”

An extra credit idea: Students can create (and illustrate) 3×5 flip cards with the Latin terms on the front and the English meaning on the back.
Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of HistoryFifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

This attractive book has all sorts of interesting stories about various plants that have influenced history. I love how it weaves the stories of plants with people and events. Some adult topics are discussed, so you will need to preview for appropriateness for your family. Recommended as a read-aloud for younger students.

Some of these history-changing plants include:
★ Agave, used to make sisal, poison arrows, bullets, tequila and surgical thread
★ Hemp, used for hangman’s rope, sustainable plastics, the Declaration of Independence and Levi’s jeans
★ Coconut, used for coir fiber, soap, margarine, cream, sterile IV drips and coagulants
★ Eucalyptus, used in mouthwash, diuretics, vitamins, honey, underwear and fire-resistant uniforms
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names

This book isn’t just about plants . It weaves mythology, history, people and places into 1-3 page stories. So while you get familiarized with 100 different flowers, you’ll also learn a lot about all sorts of interesting tidbits and trivia.

Each flower is illustrated in black and white. I recommend Googling a full color picture after each story to help your student better learn to identify each flower.

Plant press
Flower/plant press

You’ll need a flower press for an optional plant collection and identification project. Choose whichever one you like.
Prismacolor colored pencilsPrismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

You will want some quality colored pencils, not only for the book above, but also for the nature journaling your student will be doing this year. I chose Prismacolors because they are really superior to cheap colored pencils and produce beautiful vibrant colors via the creamy leads.
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Note: This book describes all sorts of poisonous and intoxicating plants. Use at your discretion! Recommended as a read-aloud if you use it with younger students.
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

“A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations.

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.”
Worms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better EnvironmentWorms Eat Our Garbage: Classroom Activities for a Better Environment

This book is only available used. You can also preview the book via the University of Nebraska at Omaha (see link below).
Here is a preview of the entire book.

This book is designed for grades 4-8, but even your big kids will learn a lot. It teaches all sorts of science about worms and composting and also integrates math, language arts, and other subjects. You can pick and choose the activities based on your student’s age.

If the activities come across as too simple for your high schooler, I’ve scheduled in the book below during many of the same weeks.
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms
This book is a high school add-on.
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

“In The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart takes us on a journey through the underground world and introduces us to one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. It ploughs the soil, fights plant diseases, cleans up pollution, and turns ordinary dirt into fertile land. Who knew?

In her witty, offbeat style, Stewart shows that much depends on the actions of the lowly worm. Charles Darwin devoted his last years to the meticulous study of these creatures, praising their remarkable abilities. With the august scientist as her inspiration, Stewart investigates the worm’s subterranean realm, talks to oligochaetologists―the unsung heroes of earthworm science―who have devoted their lives to unearthing the complex life beneath our feet, and observes the thousands of worms in her own garden. From the legendary giant Australian worm that stretches to ten feet in length to the modest nightcrawler that wormed its way into the heart of Darwin’s last book to the energetic red wigglers in Stewart’s compost bin, The Earth Moved gives worms their due and exposes their hidden and extraordinary universe. This book is for all of us who appreciate Mother Nature’s creatures, no matter how humble.”
worm composting kitWorm Composting Kit – Any worm composting bin will do!

*You can build your own low cost worm composting box instead of buying one like this.

If you are trying to justify the cost, think of it this way: You’re learning something interesting while you are doing something good for the environment and your plants with your kitchen waste. Cut down on your garbage and put it to work!
compost wormsUncle Jim’s Worm Farm 1,000 Count Red Wiggler Live Composting Worms

If you decide to make a worm bin, you’ll need worms. These are the kind that are recommended.
The Bees: A Novel
This book is a high school add-on.

Note: There is some sexuality and crude remarks as it applies to bees. Not recommended for younger students (or only as a read-aloud so you can edit out those parts on the fly).

Read a review of this book by clicking here.
The Bees

“The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.”
The Biography of CottonThe Biography of Cotton

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Draw Like an Artist: 100 Flowers and Plants: Step-by-Step Realistic Line DrawingDraw Like an Artist: 100 Flowers and Plants: Step-by-Step Realistic Line Drawing

“This comprehensive book features 600-plus step-by-step sketches depicting a vast array of beautiful botanicals, florals, plant structures, and more. Each begins with simple shapes and lines and builds on those forms, adding details like flower centers, leaf veins, and petal shading, and ending with a finished drawing. Helpful drawing tips are also included.”
Choose one of the following nature journaling books:
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and JournalingOption 1:
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

This is an unscheduled book.

The ultimate guide to nature drawing and journaling! A potent combination of art, science, and boundless enthusiasm, the latest art instruction book from John Muir Laws (The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds) is a how-to guide for becoming a better artist and a more attentive naturalist. In straightforward text complemented by step-by-step illustrations, dozens of exercises lead the hand and mind through creating accurate reproductions of plants and animals as well as landscapes, skies, and more. Laws provides clear, practical advice for every step of the process for artists at every level, from the basics of choosing supplies to advanced techniques. While the book’s advice will improve the skills of already accomplished artists, the emphasis on seeing, learning, and feeling will make this book valuable—even revelatory—to anyone interested in the natural world, no matter how rudimentary their artistic abilities
Nature Anatomy Notebook: A Place to Track and Draw Your Daily ObservationsOption 2:
Nature Anatomy Notebook: A Place to Track and Draw Your Daily Observations

This is an unscheduled book.

“Adults and children are irresistibly drawn to Julia Rothman’s best-selling illustrated guide to the natural world, Nature Anatomy, with its colorful drawings that awaken curiosity — and invite imitation. 

With this companion volume, Rothman leads fans deeper into nature observation with her specially designed record pages for tracking daily nature sightings throughout the seasons. Her step-by-step technique tutorials for drawing a flower, a dragonfly, a robin, and much more, along with blank sketchbook pages, will inspire nature lovers and art enthusiasts of all ages to take up their own colored pencils or favorite pens and create their own unique Nature Anatomy Notebook.”

Keeping a nature journalOption 3:
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

This is an unscheduled book.

“Reconnect with nature through sketching and writing with these simple methods for capturing the living beauty of each season. Clare Walker Leslie and co-author Charles E. Roth offer easy techniques, exercises, and prompts for all ages.”
This book is NOT scheduled in. It has suggestions for journaling throughout the different seasons. I kept this book, even after I was finished with homeschooling. It’s an excellent resource!

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
This is an unscheduled book.

Note: The beginning of this book mentions evolution.
 Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification

Despite the title, this is not a “learn it in one day” sort of book.

I recommend this book if you really want to learn how to identify a variety of plants by learning to recognize which family they come from. Consider this book is a long term project.

When using this book, you will need to take some time to spend outdoors learning how to identify plants in a wild setting.

Younger students will need a parent to assist identifying plants.
For safety’s sake, I have NOT recommended any edible plant guides. They are, however, fascinating and fun, if you can locate a knowledgeable professional to help with identification, or if you read them only on an educational basis.
Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World's Favorite TreatChocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat

Chocolate hits all the right sweet–and bitter–notes: cutting-edge genetic science whisked in with a strong social conscience, history, and culture yield one thought-provoking look into one of the world’s most popular foods. Readers who savored Chew on This and Food, Inc. and lovers of chocolate will relish this fascinating read.”
Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate (Heroes of History)Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate

“We’ve done more than our share to see you right, but you’re a Hershey, a true son of a dreamer,’ Milton’s Uncle Abraham said. ‘You’ll never stick with anything long enough to make it work for you.’ Milton gulped. He’d already suspected that his relatives had given up on him succeeding as a candy maker, but the words still stung. When Milton Hershey’s famous Hershey Bars debuted in 1905, few people knew of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice preceding the triumph. Debt, lack of support, and fatigue had been constant companions for the famous chocolatier and philanthropist — a man with a fourth-grade education. Despite comparisons to his wandering father, Milton never gave up. Learning from his mistakes, he spent a lifetime creating sweet things to eat — first caramel, then chocolate. As his company soared, Milton used his wealth to care for others, founding a town for Hershey workers, a school for children in need, and a foundation dedicated to education, culture, and health care.”
Make Your Own Chocolate KitMake Your Own Chocolate Kit

My family used this kit! I actually purchased it several times over the years, as it was a big hit. The kit was actually really fun and it was quite interesting to see what cocoa butter and cacao beans are like!
What Linnaeus Saw: A Scientist's Quest to Name Every Living ThingWhat Linnaeus Saw: A Scientist’s Quest to Name Every Living Thing

“In What Linnaeus Saw, Karen Magnuson Beil chronicles Linnaeus’s life and career in readable, relatable prose.”
The Biography of WheatThe Biography of Wheat

This book is free at the Open Library.

This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the SensesWhat a Plant Knows

“How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it actually feel an insect’s tiny, spindly legs? And how do cherry blossoms know when to bloom? Can they actually remember the weather?

For centuries we have collectively marveled at plant diversity and form—from Charles Darwin’s early fascination with stems to Seymour Krelborn’s distorted doting in Little Shop of Horrors. But now, in What a Plant Knows, the renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world—from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize.

Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you’ve been playing for them or if they’re more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach. Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings.

A rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb, What a Plant Knows offers us a greater understanding of science and our place in nature.”
The Biography of SugarThe Biography of Sugar – This book is not always available as new on Amazon. Buy a used copy, if possible. Also check Crabtree Publishing for a new copy.

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
ugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and ScienceSugar Changed the World

“When this award-winning husband-and-wife team discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives. The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways.”
Grass petNyokki Grass Pets

These are just too cute. They add a bit of fun into your botany study and can sit on a windowsill or wherever to remind your students what they are learning about. I bought the froggie for my son, and still have sitting on my windowsill, even though he’s all grown up and moved out. I also used this with a student I tutored. It was a big hit.

An alternative:
Get a chia pet.
The Biography of PotatoesThe Biography of Potatoes

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850

This is a great book to tie into the roots topic while adding in a dose of history.
Modern MarvelsModern Marvels: The Potato (Amazon Streaming) – Episode 16

It is among the most versatile, nutritious, and varied foodstuffs in the world. The Potato is the ultimate comfort food. We’ll travel from the Potato’s mysterious origins in the South American Andes to the ethnic enclaves of New York’s lower Eastside.
Worms Eat My GarbageWorms Eat My Garbage, 35th Anniversary Edition: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System: Compost Food Waste, Produce Fertilizer for Houseplants and Garden, and Educate Your Kids and Family

This is an optional (but highly recommended) long-term project that will require you to set up a worm bin (which is easy and cheap to do). Worms are a great addition to a garden and are interesting to study. Feed your plants while you feed your worms your kitchen garbage!
Modern MarvelsModern Marvels, Season 4, Episode 18: Beans

“Follow the soybean from field to refinery with CHS, Inc. as they convert billions of soybeans into vegetable oils, flour, and soy meal.”
Litmus pH Test StripspH Strips (pH Papers, 1-14 range, 80 pack)

These are used in two experiments. Any pH strips should work fine!
Nutrients (hydroponic nutrients) – optional – If you go this route, get the smallest, cheapest bottle

Tulipomania : The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused
This is a high school add-on.
Tulipomania : The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused

“In the 1630s, visitors to the prosperous trading cities of the Netherlands couldn’t help but notice that thousands of normally sober, hardworking Dutch citizens from every walk of life were caught up in an extraordinary frenzy of buying and selling. The object of this unprecedented speculation was the tulip, a delicate and exotic Eastern import that had bewitched horticulturists, noblemen, and tavern owners alike. For almost a year rare bulbs changed hands for incredible and ever-increasing sums, until single flowers were being sold for more than the cost of a house.”
George Washington Carver: From Slave to ScientistGeorge Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist

“Written for readers age 10 and up — enjoyed by adults!

Once a kidnapped slave baby, George Washington Carver found freedom in learning everything he could about the world around him. Overcoming poverty and racism, George became a brilliant scientist and a gifted professor who dedicated his expertise to helping black farmers escape the devastating grip of poverty.

George’s scientific creativity knew no limits. His ingenious experimentation with peanuts and other plants helped rescue the failing Southern economy. Still remembered for his far-reaching and diverse achievements, Dr. Carver generously shared his talent simply for the reward of helping others.”
The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in AmericaThe Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in America

This is a nicely illustrated picture book, if you don’t have time for the chapter book, linked above.
The Life and Times of the PeanutThe Life and Times of the Peanut

An easy picture book written for younger grades with lots of interesting info. Even though it’s for younger students, even high schoolers will find the peanut trivia interesting.
The Biography of TeaThe Biography of Tea

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do
This is a high school add-on.
How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do

I found this books so useful, I got it for my own personal reference shelf!

“Plants are capable of interesting and unexpected things. Why do container plants wilt when they’ve been regularly watered? Why did the hydrangea that thrived last year never bloom this year? Why do slugs wipe out the vegetable garden instead of eating the weeds? Plant physiology—the study of how living things function—can solve these and most other problems gardeners regularly encounter.

In How Plants Work, horticulture expert and contributor to the popular blog The Garden Professors, Linda Chalker-Scott brings the stranger-than-fiction science of the plant world to vivid life. She uncovers the mysteries of how and why plants do the things they do, and arms the home gardener with fascinating knowledge that will change the way they garden.”
Nature: What Plants Talk AboutNature: What Plants Talk About

“From PBS – Hard core science is effortlessly integrated with a light-hearted look at how plants behave. Scientist J.C. Cahill takes us on a journey into the “secret world of plants,” revealing an astonishing landscape where plants eavesdrop on each other, talk to their allies, call in insect mercenaries and nurture their young. It is a world of pulsing activity, where plants communicate, co-operate and, sometimes, wage all-out war.”
The Biography of VanillaThe Biography of Vanilla

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
This is a high school add-on.
The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History

“What makes The Triumph of Seeds remarkable is not just that it is informative, humane, hilarious, and even moving, just as what makes seeds remarkable is not simply their fundamental importance to life. In both cases, it is their sheer vitality and the delight that we can take in their existence—the opportunity to experience, as Hanson puts it, “the simple joy of seeing something beautiful, doing what it is meant to do.” Spanning the globe from the Raccoon Shack—Hanson’s backyard writing hideout-cum-laboratory—to the coffee shops of Seattle, from gardens and flower patches to the spice routes of Kerala, this is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. “
The Biography of Coffee The Biography of Coffee

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in NatureGrowing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature

This is a super easy picture book. Even though the reading level of this book is for a very early elementary level, it really draws your attention to the fact that nature is very orderly and you can observe some very distinct patterns in it. Was this an accident? Our family doesn’t think so. Get it from your library, if you don’t have younger children at home. If you choose not to check it out, I’ve included a video on this subject in the schedule.
The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee CatastropheThe Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe

Learn about bees and also explore the mystery of why they might be disappearing. Interesting!
The Bee Book: Discover the Wonder of Bees and How to Protect Them for Generations to Come
Note: This book mentions evolution.
The Bee Book

This beautiful book has an abundance of information about bees, and not just honey bees! From bee anatomy, to flowers that attract bees, caring for bees, and ways to use honey, this book is packed full of information, terrific photographs, and illustrations!
Vanishing of the BeesVanishing of the Bees

“Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables. Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees. Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.”
Peterson Field Guide Coloring Books: Wildflowers
This book is unscheduled and optional.
Peterson Field Guide Coloring Books: Wildflowers

“From the dazzling orange of a Canada Lily to the sunshine yellow of a Prickly-pear, coloring your own field guide is the most enjoyable way to learn about wildflowers. Each drawing is accompanied by a brief description that educates as it entertains. Place the new color stickers next to the drawings for a visual reference while coloring. Coloring the drawings helps reinforce the color, image, and shape of each wildflower, improving your memory and perception while offering a pleasant and easy way to learn. Fun for adults as well as children, beginning and experienced naturalists alike.”
The Biography of BananasThe Biography of Bananas

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Click here to preview this book.
How Did We Find Out About Photosynthesis? How Did We Find Out About Photosynthesis?

This book is FREE online.
This is a classic, quick read! I recommend you read it online vs. purchasing it.
The Biography of RiceThe Biography of Rice

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
The Biography of CornThe Biography of Corn

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
King CornKing Corn

“In Aaron Woolf’s thought-provoking documentary, friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis move back to America’s Corn Belt to plant an acre of the nation’s most-grown and most-subsidized grain and follow their crop into the U.S. food supply.”
Gibberellic AcidGibberellic acid (plant hormone)

This is used in an experiment.
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
This book is also scheduled in Guest Hollow’s Biology Curriculum.
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas

This is a picture book, but one that even some high school teachers use for their biology classes. I love the illustrations.
Maggi Umami SeasoningMaggi Seasoning Sauce

This is used in a recipe.
Life DVDLife: Season One, Episode 9: Plants

“Plants’ solutions to life’s challenges are as innovative and manipulative as any animal’s. Stunning time-lapse photography reveals a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. The dragon’s blood tree acts as an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The heliconia plant enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.”
Plants: Flowering Plants, Ferns, Mosses, and Other PlantsPlants: Flowering Plants, Ferns, Mosses, and Other Plants

This is an easy, informative book with lots of color, illustrations and photos.

Although this is not a high school level book, it contains information your student is learning, but in a more visual way.

Here is a preview of this book!
Fungi: Mushrooms, Toadstools, Molds, Yeasts, and Other FungiFungi: Mushrooms, Toadstools, Molds, Yeasts, and Other Fungi

This is another book like the one above.

Although this is not a high school level book, it contains information your student is learning, but in a more visual way.

Here is a preview of this book!
Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Growing Kit
Note: Some kits are only available from October through April, so plan accordingly!
Grow Your Own Mushroom Kit – Any kit will work!

How cool to grow your own mushrooms! You should do it at least once. Choose a kit for a perfect accompaniment to the fungus topic.
The Biography of SpicesThe Biography of Spices

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
Modern MarvelsModern Marvels, Season 4, Episode 19: Hot & Spicy

“Chili head alert! It’s time to get hot and spicy. First we’ll take you to the home of sizzling Tabasco sauce–McIlhenny Company of Louisiana, and to McCormick in Baltimore, Maryland–the leading spice manufacturer in the world.”
The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition
High schoolers can read the adult version, if desired.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Young Readers Edition)

“What’s for dinner?” seemed like a simple question—until journalist and supermarket detective Michael Pollan delved behind the scenes. From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers’ adaptation of Pollan’s famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.

In a smart, compelling format with updated facts, plenty of photos, graphs, and visuals, as well as a new afterword and backmatter, The Omnivore’s Dilemma serves up a bold message to the generation that needs it most: It’s time to take charge of our national eating habits—and it starts with you.”
John Muir: My Life with NatureJohn Muir: My Life with Nature

“This is THE BEST John Muir biography for children, says Jill Harcke, co-producer of the John Muir Tribute CD. Written mostly in the words of Muir, it brims with his spirit and adventures. The text was selected and retold by naturalist Joseph Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children, who is well known for his inspiring nature games. The result is a book with an aliveness, a presence of goodness, adventure, enthusiasm, and sensitive love of each animal and plant that will give young adults an experience of a true champion of nature. It is a book that expands your sense of hope, adventure, and awareness. Adults will be just as fond of this book as young readers. Cornell includes numerous explore more activities that help the reader to understand and appreciate the many wonderful qualities of Muir.”

“A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha’s heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil’s dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.
Thirteen very different voices and perspectives—old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful—tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.”
Plants Behaving BadlyPBS: Plants Behaving Badly

“Two groups of plants exhibit such intriguing behavior that a century and a half ago they attracted the attention of Charles Darwin. These same plants, the orchids and the carnivorous plants, still fascinate scientists today. In two, one-hour films, Plants Behaving Badly reveals a world of deceit and treachery worthy of any fictional thriller.”
Trees Up Close: The Beauty of Their Bark, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds Trees Up Close: The Beauty of Their Bark, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds

This book is a visual treat. You can have students browse it for the pictures. You can use it for some drawing/sketching inspiration as well.
The Biography of RubberThe Biography of Rubber

This book is free at the Open Library.

This is another “Biography” book! This series has a good mix of geography, history, and plenty of beautiful photographs and illustrations.
The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown Ups

This is a good overview of tree basics that also helps students learn to identify various trees they may find on a hike or around town.

Each beautifully illustrated tree example discusses the tree, it’s history, etc. and has pictures to identify the leaves, flowers, buds, seeds, and so on. The book’s description says it’s for ages 8-12, but I’m an adult and I like it as a reference and tree guide. Many of the Amazon reviews also mention other adults who thought the same thing. 😉 It’s definitely for all ages!

Here’s an example of a page spread about London Planetrees:
London PlanetreeLondon Planetree
Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History
Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History

“Diana Wells, author of 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names now turns her attention to something bigger―our deep-rooted relationship with trees. As she investigates the names and meanings of trees, telling their legends and lore, she reminds us of just how innately bound we are to these protectors of our planet. Since the human race began, we have depended on them for food, shade, shelter and fuel, not to mention furniture, musical instruments, medicine utensils and more.

Wells has a remarkable ability to dig up the curious and the captivating: At one time, a worm found in a hazelnut prognosticated ill fortune. Rowan trees were planted in churchyards to prevent the dead from rising from their graves. Greek arrows were soaked in deadly yew, and Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth used “Gall of goat and slips of Yew” to make their lethal brew. One bristlecone pine, at about 4,700 years old, is thought to be the oldest living plant on earth. All this and more can be found in the beautifully illustrated pages (themselves born of birch bark!) of 100 Trees.”

Tree & Leaf Identification KitTree & Leaf Identification Kit

We had this kit at home and it’s great for hands-on learning. Expand your student’s knowledge and ability to identify various trees.

“LEAF IDENTIFICATION KIT. Using real leaf specimens and a key-guide, students learn to identify and classify leaves by their shape, size, venation, margin characteristics, and positioning on the twig. Contains 13 different leaves, each individually carded, labeled and bagged. Also included are two sets of these same leaves, unidentified (for a total of 39 leaves). Includes teacher’s guide with hands-on activities, leaf key for unknowns and a 61 page Tree Finder identification book.” Quote from Acorn Naturalists
amber soap labChoose an amber kit.

Amazon has a variety of amber kits (although they seem to go in and out of stock). Choose one that matches your budget.

Another option is to purchase a genuine sample of amber. Here are some on Etsy.
Make Your Own Chewing Gum KitMake Your Own Chewing Gum Kit

Our family used this kit and enjoyed it so much I bought it a 2nd time. Be aware that the plastic black tray has a tendency to melt in the microwave (this happened to us) – so switch to a glass bowl or heat the chicle on the stove. The kit comes with a booklet explaining where the chicle comes from (trees!).
Wisconsin Fast Plants® Dihybrid Genetics Student Kit
This is a high school add-on.

This is for an optional long-term (55-day) experiment for genetics. Click here for the document that schedules out the experiment’s activities.
Wisconsin Fast Plants® Dihybrid Genetics Student Kit

There are all kinds of awesome plant experiments to do with Fast Plants that are appropriate for all ages. Click here to go to the official Fast Plant website with lots of free printables and goodies. There are downloadable lesson plans for ALL ages (elementary through college) including fat 200+ page packets with worksheets, etc.

So, if you don’t want to use Fast Plants to study genetics, I highly recommend you look into using them in another capacity. There are lots of different kits and experiments that highly compliment this year’s studies!

Click here to order seeds from Amazon.

A variety of BrainPOP videos are linked in the botany schedule.

Our family used BrainPOP for years. It’s expensive, so you may want to try their free trial (if they currently have one). Less expensive subscriptions can be obtained through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op online.
Potato Chip Science: 29 Incredible ExperimentsPotato Chip Science: 29 Incredible Experiments

My son enjoyed this kit. 🙂 You may want to skip it for older students.

There’s a new branch of science in town—Potato Chip Science—a grab-bag of nourishing lessons in everything from physics to forensics, from navigation to neuroscience.
Packaged up in actual potato chip bag is an experimental world cooked up for kids who like science, and snacks, and snacking on science. Filled with whole brain goodness, this kit features 29 different snacktivities based entirely on the planet’s most miraculous munchies.
Papermaking Kit, HandmoldPapermaking Kit, Handmold

Create your own handmade paper and unique stationery with this kit.
For High Schoolers:

Here are additional unscheduled books for extra credit, extra reading and/or for those times when one of the above books doesn’t appeal.
Crunch!: A History of the Great American Potato ChipCrunch!: A History of the Great American Potato Chip

“The potato chip has been one of America’s favorite snacks since its accidental origin in a nineteenth-century kitchen. Crunch! A History of the Great American Potato Chip tells the story of this crispy, salty treat, from the early sales of locally made chips at corner groceries, county fairs, and cafes to the mass marketing and corporate consolidation of the modern snack food industry.”
The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives
Note: This book talks about flower sex. and also has references to evolution.
The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

A “fascinating” (The Wall Street Journal), engaging, and expert account of the botany, ecology, history, culture, and meaning of flowers, written by a passionately devoted scientist, photographer, and writer, and illustrated with his stunning photographs.
The Taste of Many MountainsThe Taste of Many Mountains

“Angela, Alex, Rich, and Sofi a bring to their summer research project in Guatemala more than their share of grad-school baggage—along with clashing ideas about poverty and globalization. But as they follow the trail of coffee beans from the Guatemalan peasant grower to the American coffee drinker, what unfolds is not only a stunning research discovery, but an unforgettable journey of personal challenge and growth.

Based on an actual research project on fair trade coffee funded by USAID, The Taste of Many Mountains is a brilliantly-staged novel about the global economy in which University of San Francisco economist Bruce Wydick examines the realities of the coffee trade from the perspective of young researchers struggling to understand the chasm between the world’s rich and poor.”
Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the WorldBanana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

“In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, award-winning journalist Dan Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought. Fast-paced and highly entertaining, Banana takes us from jungle to supermarket, from corporate boardrooms to kitchen tables around the world. “
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food WebTeaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition

“When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains plants, and then become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of toxic substances. Teaming with Microbes offers an alternative to this vicious circle, and details how to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web. You’ll discover that healthy soil is teeming with life—not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. This must-have guide is for everyone, from those devoted to organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy plants without resorting to chemicals.”
The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and ShrubsThe Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs

“Enjoy your favorite varieties of garden plants year after year with this comprehensive guide to gathering, preparing, and planting seeds. Authors Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough provide simple instructions that clearly explain the whole process, from basic plant biology to proper seed storage and successful propagation. Gardeners of any experience level will find all the information they need to preserve genetic diversity, cut costs, and extend the life of their favorite plants to the next generation and beyond.”
Pinecone hedgehog

The terrific materials listed above are for Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum!

Guest Hollow's Botany Curriculum

Guest Hollow’s Botany Curriculum


Why study botany? I think botany is an overlooked topic that gets shoved into a chapter of biology and then forgotten. Plants affect and enrich so many parts of our lives! Our houses and clothes are made of plant materials. We eat plants. We enjoy their beauty. They provide us with medicines, fuel, perfume, dyes, paper and a variety of other products. They are tied to history and even our future. They are an integral part of our lives! This course is for any student who has a love for nature and plants. It’s also perfect for a pre-biology course. Students will learn the science behind plants and to appreciate the myriad contributions plants make to our lives! 

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