Guest post by certified herbalist, Angela of Mama Rosemary
Children and herbs go together like two peas in a pod. For almost a decade I have had the pleasure of working with children and herbs at a little home-based preschool and I have yet to meet a kiddo who isn’t fascinated by herbs.
The smells, colors and tastes of herbs are enchanting, and children tend to gravitate toward these wonderful botanicals naturally.
Engaging all five senses helps children to really embrace and learn about herbs at a deep level. We taste and touch, we smell and talk about the herbs, and we let our eyes be filled with their simple beauty. While exploring herbs endeavor to engage and fill up the five senses with your child.
Here are four simple ways to introduce your child to the wonderful world of herbs!
1. Hands-On Play With Herbs
A wonderful way for children to get in touch with herbs is to simply play with them, so why not incorporate the herbs into arts and crafts? Offer opportunities to touch and smell the herbs and your child is well on the road to developing a wonderful relationship with the plants.
A very simple activity is offer fresh or dried plants along with some basic art supplies for inspired play such as we did here when we Played With Peppermint.
One of my favorite ways to explore herbs with the youngest of children is to make Herbal Playdough that is scented and colored with plants. You can get very creative and have a lot of fun with playdough and herbs using everything from alfalfa and beet powder for coloring to lavender and cinnamon for adding delightful aromatherapy. (Check out Red&Honey’s playdough recipe here, with a gluten-free option.)
You can also help kids learn about herbs and even botany by focusing on one plant family at a time. There are many medicinal plants in the mint family which makes it a great family to study. These Child Friendly Activities For Learning About The Mint Family will give you a great start to learning about this diverse and interesting plant family.
There really is no end to playing with herbs and the fun crafts you can make. I love looking to add an herbal spin to pretty much any craft we do.
A few of my all time favorites include:
Making Lavender Blossom Salt Paintings ~ We did this one extremely cold day when the weather was below zero, keeping 15 preschoolers all cooped up inside. We started pounding lavender blossoms in a mortar & pestle and within minutes the rowdy unrest was replaced by calm. I kid you not!
Crafting Tree Fairies ~ These adorable fairies are created with pinecones, acorns, beautiful Autumn leaves and herbs from trees.
Creating Play Dough Mandalas ~ start off with some herbal play dough and use beautiful dried herbs to create lovely mandalas.
Favorite Fresh Herbs For Crafting With Kids: mints, lemon balm, violets, rose petals, calendula, hollyhocks and chamomile.
Favorite Dried Herbs For Crafting With Kids: lavender, baby rose buds, hibiscus flowers, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and elderberry plus ground spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Get lots of herbalicious botanicals for crafting from the lovely Mountain Rose Herbs!
2. Make Herbal Gifts
Right along with playing with herbs comes the wonderful fun of sharing your herbal crafts with those you love. Kids really enjoy making their own gifts to giveaway. It gives them a rightful sense of ownership.
And really what could be more precious than getting something homemade just for you by a sweet child?
Check out Herbal Gifts Kids Can Make for plenty of ideas!
3. Taste Herbs
So now your kiddo knows how wonderful herbs smell and feel. But what do those herbs taste like?
I love doing tea tasting with kids. If we are spending the day focusing on one herb, along with the project I have planned, we usually taste that herb as a tea. It is also great fun to have a tea tasting with lots of tasty herbs and help kids make up their own tea blend, here is how to host your own Tea Tasting & MYO Herbal Tea Blend.
While we taste our tea, I always talk a little about the properties of the herbs and how they can help our bodies.
Of course herbs are also wonderful to cook with and kids love to help in the kitchen. Some herb-friendly help that kids can give with cooking include: harvesting from the garden, washing fresh herbs, using kid-safe scissors to cut up fresh plants, and smashing herbs in a mortar and pestle.
Some of our favorite kid-friendly recipes include:
Herbal Honeys such as this Violet Honey and these Fresh Thyme & Lemon Balm Honeys are delicious!
My all-time favorite is adding mint to my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can you tell I have a bit of a sweet tooth?
4. Use Herbs To Take Care Of Your Body
Self-care is such an important skill to share with kids. Making your very own body care products really helps kids get excited about taking care of themselves. Plus, it’s so amazing to take an herbal bath or enjoy a relaxing foot soak.
Bath bombs are a little lesson in chemistry because they combine an acid and a base to makes some fantastic fizzing. We like to run a few little acid/base experiments before we make up own our bath bombs including making an old fashioned vinegar and baking soda volcano.
Then we can pretend that our bath bombs are like a volcano: There’s A Volcano In My Bathtub!
The other bath that kids simply adore is an Herbal Sock Bath. This involved stuffing a sock with the herbs of choice and results in a wonderfully cuddly little sock-thing that the kids love to carry around an snuggle.
Did you know that your feet are very absorbent? It is true! And a little foot rub at bedtime with something specially created can really help to send a little one off to dreamland.
We make Sleepy Time Foot Balm with thick creamy shea butter and essential oils chosen by the child. Mixing it is the fun part though. We put the shea in a plastic baggie and then the kid mix in the essential oils by squeezing and massaging the bag for squishy fun!
Other Herbal Body Care Ideas For Making With Kids…
– make your own soap, melt and pour is especially easy to use!
– whip up a batch of lip balm
– create your own lotions and creams
Be sure to visit Mountain Rose Herbs to get your bath making supplies!
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