Mother Earth Living

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Add to My MSN

Herbs & Children: Introducing Herbs to your Kids

6/7/2011 3:19:58 PM

Tags: Lisa Kuhlman, Children, Herbs & Children, Gardening, Child's Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Taco Garden

Lisa KuhlmanLisa is a writer, budding photographer and herb enthusiast. She enjoys poking around in the garden, creating in the kitchen and reading a good book (when she’s not answering the call of “Mom!” from her five children).   

I think kids and herb gardening go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

Like macaroni and cheese.

Like cookies and milk.

Like ... well, you get the picture. Here are a few tips to help you introduce the wonder of herbs to your children.

Appeal To Their Senses 

Encourage your kids to do a lot of handling, smelling and tasting things from the herb garden. (But always with the caveat that you should not eat an herb unless you are sure of what it is.) Show your children how to rub the leaves of herbs to release the scent and then take a deep whiff. Our sense of smell is directly wired to the brain, so this is an effective way to help kids learn the difference between herbs.

Ask your child to collect herbs from the garden while you are cooking. Then let them help strip leaves, cut, mix and sample the food. Or make a special garden based on their favorite food. Plant a pizza garden with herbs like basil, tomatoes, oregano and garlic, (Yes, the garlic will take some forethought.) or make a taco garden with cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos and oregano. Let your child decorate and label plant markers to add a unique-touch to their special garden. (As a matter of fact, your kids could make plant markers for your larger herb garden, too!) It's easy to buy your plants in small pots at the store, but also plant some things from seed so that they can watch them emerge from the soil. Try planting potted herbs from which to harvest right away, then plant seeds next to the started plant to observe and harvest later.  

6-7-11 girl in garden
Encourage hands-on learning about herbs with your children.
Photo by Barockschloss/Courtesy Flickr
 

Appeal to a Child's Natural Love of Learning 

Ask kids to help you weed the herb garden for short periods of time. By the way, “giving the plants room to stretch” may sound more appealing than “weeding.” This is mostly a time for you to just be together in the herb garden, allowing time for lots of questions and exploration. (“Hey mom, is this an herb? How about this one? Taste this one!”)

Give a quick botany tutorial every once in a while. For example, if you are checking out spearmint, be sure to point out the square stem and opposite leaves. Then when your child encounters another member of the mint family, which includes a good many herbs typically found in a kitchen herb garden, they can start to make basic connections and differentiations between herbs.

Appeal to Their Delight in the Disgusting 

My kids all know how to spot plantain. (This is not too difficult, given it's abundance.) They like knowing it can be used to draw out venom from insect stings or splinters. I taught them to pick it, chew it up, then spit it out and put the plantain on the affected site. It can then be held in place with a bandage. Or, if  they are feeling really rustic, they can bind it all together with large blades of grass. To be most effective, the poultice of chewed plantain should be replaced every hour or so. Kids especially like this because plantain is easy to recognize, and our process for making the poultice looks disgusting! For those that would prefer it, you can use a mortar and pestle. We don't use chemicals on our lawn, but I do warn the kids not to chew herbs from other places if they don't know whether it's been sprayed.  

6-7-11 plantain
Plantain often grows in the cracks of sidewalks.
Photo by Shandchem/Courtesy Flickr
 

Appeal to Their Love of Giving (or Earning!)  

Kids love to create, and using herbs to make gift or sale items is a great motivator for helping them learn about herbs! Sachets, face scrubs, bath tea bags, aromatic mug coasters, custom herb blends for cooking, photos, note cards, bookmarks ... the possibilities are endless. Your child's herbal craft or gift items would be a great addition to your yard sale or their lemonade stand this summer. You can find more gift or craft ideas and tips here.

Read More: Herbal Learning Resources - Herbal Roots Zine 
Herbs Spice Up Learning - KidsGardening.org 



Related Content

5 Fun Winter Activities to Get Kids Excited About the Garden

Get your children excited about helping with the garden this year with these five fun activities.

Herbs & Children: Collecting and Drying Herbs for the Herbal Harvest

Cutting and drying herbs can be a great way for kids to learn about them.

Building Fairy Gardens For Kids

One guest blogger loves building fairy houses for kids and with kids. She never ceases to be amazed ...

Cook with Your Kids!

Here are some ingredients to make cooking with kids a tasty experience!

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.