How to define botany so kids will love it

Have you ever tried to define botany for your kids? How did that go? Did you get the eye roll? And then did you say, “But you need to learn this! Hey, I’ll try to make it fun. Here’s this cool curriculum I found.”? I bet you got a reluctant, “Ok.”

And what kid wouldn’t respond that way? Here’s what I found when I typed into my search bar, define botany:

Doesn’t sound super exciting with all those big, technical words. And very often, when we study botany, it’s not as exciting as studying zoology because plants aren’t soft and cuddly and they don’t respond to us like the family dog does.

Or do they?

I have some ideas about how to define botany so kids will love it and love plants. Here goes.

define botany with plants and humans holding hands

How to define botany so kids will love it

First, change the definition.

Now, botany can never mean something else. Botany is what it is. It is the scientific study of plants and everything about them. But, for kids to want to study plants and love it, they need to care. We need to care. We need to change the language to words that will help them care. What about telling them that botany is:

  • discovering your next favorite food?
  • a cure for grandma’s cancer?
  • solving historical mysteries?
  • finding a new way to build houses?

If we talked about botany in ways that were meaningful and relevant, kids–and we–might get excited!

Second, talk about plants as friends.

Plants are integral to every aspect of our lives. Without them, everything dies. In this way, they are more our allies and friends than our pets. If we learned their names and talked about them as friends, our children would see them as friends, too. In fact, if you think about it, God supplies all of our earthly needs through our green friends. And I do mean all of them–food, shelter, water, air, clothing, and medicine. The only thing plants don’t supply is our spiritual needs. Now, we don’t need to get ridiculous about plant pets or overly personifying them, but they are our friends and they are amazing.

Third, define botany as an adventure into another world

Maybe there really are little green men….but they live in your backyard, not in outer space! What kid wouldn’t want to meet green beings that are breatharians and communicate without sounds? How about beings that grow and move so slowly that a year is like a day? Or, beings that can only have children on one day of the year? If we reframe botany as an adventure into another world that is so close they can touch it, maybe they will beg for it.

And they will be rewarded with an experience they won’t forget. Get them out on a botany adventure, even if it’s just your backyard. In the spirit of thinking of plants as friends, you can learn with Helia and Zea as they share about themselves in this study of flowering plants. Check it out!

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