Alina’s Adventures: science experiments

Max loves our white camellia tree and decided that he wanted to write about it in his nature notebook. While scouring the web for camellias, I made a mistake that turned into an awesome afternoon of learning moments.

I printed a copy of this camellia page for Max to color and add. Then I printed a different sheet with what looked like a dearth of cool information about the camellia plant. Except that there are many different species of the genus camellia which led us on an excellent adventure. DIY.


reading….. Going where the words lead us. Print a copy of this coloring page for the Camellia japonica, the Alabama state flower, and make it sparkle. Then print a copy of Debbie Odom’s exquisite handout on Camellia sinesis, the tea plant and read it together. Most of what follows jumped from this reading, which led Max to various questions, ideas, and activities. Reading for us never occurs without extensive talking.

writing….. Time to compare and contrast the two types of camellias. We just drew a chart with Camellia Japonica on one side and Camellia sinesis on the other. Then we used books and printouts to fill in the blanks. Our blanks included scientific names, type of plant, native location, current locations, leaf description, peak bloom season, growing needs (i.e. type of soil, light, water), role in ecosystem (who eats it or uses it and how), and human uses.

Max also felt the need to make a “tea flyer” so “other people can learn about tea”. I love how he tries to extend what he learns into a teaching opportunity. Reggio would be proud.

brewing….. Max could not wait to sip some tea. So I showed him how to brew his very own cup using the stove. We talked about “steeping” and why it works best when the cup is covered so nothing escapes through steam. Then we sipped our teas and added a little honey for sweetener.

sorting and arranging…. Drinking tea led us to questions about all the sorts of teas I kept in my mysterious tea bin. Since Max seemed so intrigued, I took the bin from the shelf and dumped its contents (the pre-bagged teas) onto the kitchen table for him to sort and classify.

First he divided them up by brand and then he divided them by ingredients. Then he made a list of different ingredients in our teas, like lemon balm and mint.

the inventory…. He basically took an inventory of each type of tea and the number of tea bags in our possession. Such a great way to practice his information-sorting and charting skills. Next time we go to the store, I’m going to give him $25 to restock our tea inventory based on his assessment of our needs and uses. I can’t wait to see what he selects.

creating…. With all the teas sorted and arranged, how could we share Max’s new love affair with others? Why, by sharing tea, of course! As I hastily stitched together a couple of tea wallets, Max created inserts describing tea plants and 5 teas he selected for Bill and for Micah Naomi on the basis of “their need” for them. Both of us beamed at the result.

enjoying… We brewed another cup of tea and settled down to watch the tree lights twinkle and discuss all the cool things we had stumbled upon in our learning adventure. What a superfantastic way to fritter away an afternoon…. and study some science on the side.

I’d love to know if you try flowers and tea and what comes of your adventure.

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