Conifer Study

Caleb (and Eli) and I have been so loving our study of botany!  This post highlights one of our activities as we learned about gymnosperms, particularly conifers.

Gymnosperms are plants with “naked seeds” that aren’t housed inside a fruit.  Conifers (cone-bearing plants) are an example of a gymnosperm.

During this lesson, we had collected various twigs and cones from trees at our local cemetery.  We don’t have very many conifers at all on our farm, but the cemetery has several varieties.  We tried to only to collect specimens that had already fallen off the trees or seems to be part of a dying branch.

We compared the leaves of different trees. How were they alike/different? How were they attached to the twig?
We identified the parts and observed their characteristic and functions.
We pulled apart cones as an informal dissection. We were looking for seeds inside the cones, but all ours had already dropped their seeds.
Cones close in cold, wet weather to protect the seeds. We placed open cones in cold water and watched as they completely closed after a few hours.
Conversely, cones open in warm, dry weather. We set cones that were tightly closed in a 250 degree oven for an hour or so and watched as they opened completely.
While this wasn’t part of the same lesson, our weekly art lesson used conifer samples as models for some practice with pastels.

If you’d like to find all sorts of detailed lesson ideas for studying conifers, check out the NaturExplorers study, Constant Conifers!

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