Last month we finished the botany recommendations for first grade from the Well-Trained Mind. They boiled down to, "Do six botany projects from Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening
The book is great. It has 87 botany projects including nature studies, gardening, building tools, herbalism, cooking and economics for people with big backyards and no backyards. But since you only need 6 lessons it's overkill. You barely scratch the surface.
The girls had no interest at all in building tools. They liked gardening and nature studies, but herbalism was the hands down favorite especially after I explained how herbs were used for food and medicine.
1) Placing a white flower/celery stalk in colored water to watch it turn colors.
2) Making sun tea.
3) Making hot herb tea the regular way.
4) Planting seeds and watching them grow into seedlings.
5) Sprouted bean sprouts.
6) Was going to be looking at pond water under a magnifying glass or watching yeast grow, but the girls begged to make crystalized flowers instead. Since I want to cover animals in order of evolution, we'll make microbial life the first lesson on that one. My husband wants to pull out his microscope and do it up properly. He won't have time for that until next month, so I'm looking in vain for free coloring pages and activities on microbes as I type.
You can substitute any other 6 "experiments" (making compost, tasting herbs, preparing fresh vegetables to cook, ect.) involving plants that you can find in a library book or online. I like the botany book we got, but for just covering 6 lessons it was a waste of money. You should be able to find 6 lessons online for free.
The girls enjoyed their botany lessons. They loved doing experiments. I asked them if they wanted more or if they were ready to move to zoology. They hesitated a little, but they were too curious to go on and learn about animals. There's not as many experiments with those lessons. We'll have to find some, or find some other way to make them interesting.