Herbs are not only important in cooking and seasoning healthy dishes, but have also been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to their medicinal properties. Teaching your kids about herbs—how to cultivate them, and how to use them—can be very beneficial for their health. Here are 4 ways to explain herbs to your kids.
4 ways to teach kids about herbs
1. Let them play with herbs
Playing with herbs is a great way for children to connect with them. Allow your child to touch and smell herbs, whether fresh or dried, and use them for creative play. Here are some ideas:
- Make herbal playdough that is scented and colored with plants. You can use everything from alfalfa and beet powder for coloring to lavender and cinnamon for adding a pleasant scent.
- Make lavender blossom salt paintings by grinding lavender petals with a mortar and pestle and making paint out of it.
- Make tree fairies by using pinecones, acorns, autumn leaves, and herbs.
By focusing on one plant family at a time, you can help your children learn about herbs and even botany. For example, the mint family contains numerous therapeutic plants, making it an excellent family to research.
2. Let them taste herbs
You can give children an edible leaf to taste to explain its importance in maintaining good health. Help them harvest fresh herbs from the garden and make tea with it. You can even bake using the herbs or use them for seasoning.
3. Make self-care products together
Making your own body care products is a great way to get kids enthusiastic about taking care of themselves and be conscious of the ingredients they are putting on their bodies. You can make an herbal bath together or experiment with different tinctures.
4. Design gardens together
Herbs are easy to include into the vegetable garden and pair well with either perennial or annual flowers. Include your kids in planning and planting an herb garden, which can get them excited about cultivating plants and eating the fruits of their own labor.
What an herb garden should look like and how big it should be are entirely up to the gardener. A single herb can be cultivated in a container as a display plant, or numerous herbs can be planted together to give the balcony a more natural look.
Are all herbs safe?
As you teach your kids about herbs and explain which ones are beneficial to their health, it’s also important to teach them about which ones are toxic or harmful.
For example, plants such as poison ivy can give you a terrible, itchy rash. Other plants such as datura, morning glories, and foxglove should be avoided as well. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between a safe plant and a dangerous one because they may appear similar. Poison hemlock is an example of this because it closely resembles several other edible plants in the parsley family such as wild carrot.
Moreover, you should teach your children that while some herbs are useful and can have a powerful effect on your body, it is best to exercise caution. Taking too much of a strong herb can make you feel sick. Always remind your children to seek permission from an adult before touching, tasting, or using an herb.
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