School in a Book: Botany and Zoology

Ahhhh … smell that fresh air. That’s the smell of you on a walk in a park with your kids, naming the trees and flowers you pass, then explaining sexual versus asexual reproduction.


The eight parts of a plant cell: Cell wall; cell membrane; cytoplasm containing chloroplasts, chromoplasts, other organelles and the nucleus; a large vacuole containing water, sugar and other dissolved substances

Photosynthesis: The process green plants use to make food from sunlight. Steps: 1. Leaves, roots and stem take in water, sunlight and CO2. Chloroplasts in leaf cells contain chlorophyll which absorbs sun’s energy. Energy is used to combine H2O and CO2 to make carbohydrates and oxygen. Some of this can be stored as starch. The carbs and oxygen are then used to release energy, CO2 and water. At night, there is only respiration using stored energy. In daytime, photosynthesis is faster than respiration, so more energy is stored.

Root: The part of a plant that absorb water and nutrients from the ground and anchor the plant

The four parts of a root: The primary root, the secondary roots, root hairs, and the root cap

The four types of roots: Fibrous roots (many equal-sized primary roots); advetitious roots (roots that grow out of the stem, like the hairs on an onion bulb); aerial roots (example: ivy); prop roots (example: a carrot)

Stem: The part of a plant that transports nutrients. Stems include trunks, vines and central points of grasses.

Leaf: The part of a plant that makes food. Leaves have veins and holes on their undersides to let in water and air. These can open and close. Note that leaves include pine needles.

The three parts of a stem: Buds (small growth that becomes a new shoot or a flower); shoots (new stems that grow off the main stem); main stem

Vascular tissue: The part of a plant that carries food and water throughout leaves, stems and roots

Bark: The dead protective tissue on the outside of a tree. Bark is formed in a living layer underneath the current layer after that layer gets pushed out by the new rings that are forming. It has tiny raised openings that provide oxygen and CO2 exchange, and it protects the tree from disease and helps hold in moisture. Since it can’t grow, it peels off and new bark is formed underneath.

Heartwood: The oldest rings of the tree which can no longer transport water

Sapwood: The newer rings of the tree which can still transport water

Annual ring: A single layer of thickening of a tree trunk, which takes one year to form

Seed: The part of a plant that holds the embryo. Seeds can grow in the dark because they get their energy from their energy storage, not from the sun.

The three parts of a seed: An embryo, a food supply and a protective coat.

Seedling: A small, newly-grown plant whose seed structure is still visible. Seedlings grown in the dark are different from those grown in the light. They grow taller to seek light, but are often weaker structurally.

Flower: The part of the plant that enables reproduction by containing male and/or female sex cells (gametes). Some plants contain both types of flowers and do not need to cross-pollinate with others. Others have only the male or female flowers, and need to be cross-pollinated with another plant of their genus or species.

Petal: The part of the plant that produces nectar to attract insects needed for pollination

Stamen: The male part of the flower, which contains pollen

Pistil/carpel: The female part of the flower, which contains ovules and can trap pollen

Anthers: The male part of the plant, which makes pollen

Ovaries: The female part of flower, which contains eggs that are pollinated by anthers, then grow into fruit, which in turn produce seeds

Fruit: The part of the flowering plant that holds the seeds. Fruits include nuts, succulent fruits, berries, pods (like pea pods), kernels (like wheat kernels) and more.

Cone: The part of a conifer tree that hold the seeds. Cones start out open, then after pollination, close up. When the seeds are ripe and the weather is warm and dry, the scales open and drop the fertilized seeds so they can find dirt to grow in. The cones then remain on the plant for a year or so. Note that conifers have male and female flowers and self-pollinate. Seeds are dispersed through animal excrement, wind, water and catching on animal fur.

Pollination: The transfer of pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of the plant

Growth season: One year of a plant’s life

The five types of plants, in terms of their lifecycles: Annuals (die out except the seed each year); biennials (die in two years); herbaceous perennials (roots live many years but above ground parts die each year); woody perennials (most of parts above and below ground live on); ephemerals (very short lifecycles)

Tropism: A plant “sense”

Autotropism: The ability of a plant to make one’s own food

Geotropism: The ability of a plant to sense gravity. Plants grow away from gravity, even if the soil is upside-down.

Phototropism: The ability of a plant to sense light

Thigmotropism: The ability of a plant to sense touch

Deciduous tree: A tree that loses its leaves each year

Evergreen tree: A tree that does not shed its leaves all at once. Evergreens have tough, waxy leaves (needles) that don’t lose as much water as regular leaves.

Angiosperm: A plant that produce flowers

Gymnosperm: A plant that does not produce flowers; instead, they have naked seeds on their leaves

Hydrophyte: A plant that grows in water. These include algae, seaweed, lily pads and more.


The nine parts of an animal cell: Cell membrane (no cell wall like plants have); cytoplasm; organelles, including mitrochondria, which convert substances into energy for the cell, vacuoles, which house fats and liquids, the nucleus, which controls everything that happens in the cell, and the Golgi complex, which stores and distributes the substances that are made inside the cell (the warehouse). Cell also has centrioles, ribosomes to build proteins, and lysosomes. Note: See a picture of cell division to view these stages. Also note that different cells specialize according to their job.

Tissue: Cells of the same type combined together to do a particular job

Organ: Tissues of different types working together to do a particular job

System: Organs of different types working together to do a particular job

The three main body structures of animals: Most have a fluid-filled cavity and a skeleton to hold the cavity in place and allow for movement. All have an outer layer to enclose their bodies, which can be skin, an exoskeleton, a cuticle, scales, shells, prickles, fur and more. Animals also have a part or parts of the body to provide for locomotion, such as fins, flippers, wings, legs, etc.

Biped: Animal with two legs

Quadraped: Animal with four legs

Vertebrate: Animal with a backbone

Invertebrate: Animal with no backbone (as a snail)

Arthropod: Animal with an external skeleton/ exoskeleton (as a grasshopper)

Warm-blooded: Animal that can regulate its body temperature

Cold-blooded: Animal whose temperature changes with its environment

Herbivore: An animal that eats only plants

Carnivore: An animal that eats only meat

Omnivore: An animal that eats both plants and meat

The four types of animal communication: Body language, such as preening or dancing; making noises, such as using vocal cords or rubbing body parts together; sending out chemical messages through pheremones or by spraying; and changing color.

Parts that animals use to sense their environment: Eyes; ears; specialized body parts for sensing balance; specialized body parts for sensing water pressure and currents; whiskers; tentacles; taste buds; parts for detecting electric pulses given off by other creatures (sharks do this). Note that birds may be able to sense Earth’s magnetic field and use it for migration, too. Also, animals detect gravity.

Two types of animal reproduction: Animals either lay eggs (before or after fertilization) or give birth to live young

Larva: The form some animals take before beginning metamorphosis

Pupa: A hard shell that forms on larva inside of which metamorphosis occurs

Metamorphosis: The total restructuring of an animal’s body, sometimes inside a pupa or cocoon

Hibernation: A period of inactivity in some animals that includes the slowing of the metabolism

Migration: The large-scale movement of a species from one place to another

Echo location: The ability of some animals, such as bats, to locate solid objects by emitting sound and hearing the echo come back to them


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