Here is our newest creation. Every month we make a special themed playdoh at the school and this months is a wonderful wintry holiday playdoh. It is all-natural (except for the glitter), beautifully colored with powered beet root & scented with the softest little tufts of fir needles from our Christmas tree..Read More
Autumn is a wonderful time to learn about the amazing Mint Family (Lamiaceae). There is a delightful abundance of these beautiful plants growing. And the mint family plants make great allies for dealing with winter illness and even emotional stress from school.
The mint family is such a child friendly plant family. Many of the wonderful scents and yummy tastes of plants in this family are easily recognized by children. The plants are so funny too with their square stems and opposite leaves, they make an easy impression on kids.Read More
It has been a long time since I have shared a fun kid activity or recipes. Far too long! So here is our newest creation. It is all-natural (except for the glitter) and beautifully colored with powered flower petals.Read More
Snap, snap, snap, it's cookie baking time!
That’s what we did at preschool when we made our playdough of the month for November. Did we eat it? Nope. Instead we played with it and created lots of sparkly playdough cookies.Read More
Flowers 'n' spice and everything nice went into these lovely little mandalas!
"What's a mandala Ms. Angela?" was the immediate question I received after telling the kids what would be making together. While showing the kids a mandala coloring sheet I brought in for them, I explained that a mandala is a circle with a center. It has patterns. "As you work on a mandala," I explained, "you become calm and reflect on the beautiful parts inside yourself."
Inspiration for this project came directly from Nuture Store's wonderful post about Play Dough Rangoli Mandalas. The instant I saw these mandalas I knew I would have to make them (with an herbal flare) at the preschool as part of our unit on Mindful Self Care.
- Play Dough (To enhance relaxation during this project I made play dough scented with lavender essential oil and colored lightly with beet powder.)
- Lids of some sort ~ like the lids from yogurt containers or jars
- Pretty botanicals to design with ~ we used baby rose buds, hawthorn berries, star anise and tiny fragrant cardamom seeds.
- Set up your materials on a table. I laid out the botanicals on a paint palate and put lids in the center of the table.
- Give the children a brief age-appropriate description of a mandala.
- Have each child choose a lid and write their name on the bottom.
- Give them some play dough to press into their lid. Remind them that a mandala is a circle and to press their play dough up to the edges of the lid. You might need to help really little kids.
- Then let them design! You might want to tell the children to press the herbs into the play dough so the herbs will stick.
- On a separate table, if you wish set up coloring materials and mandala coloring sheets for the children to enjoy as well. A quick search online will give you lots of mandala coloring sheet to choose from.
Our finished mandalas smelled amazing! Some of the children really got into this project. I could see and feel their minds and bodies relaxing as they carefully pressed each plant into their play dough. They would pick up a plant, smell it taking a deep breath and then place it in the perfect spot on their play dough canvas.
More Mindful Self Care For Children ~
More Play Dough Fun ~
Good Monday Morning! Are you looking for gifts for a special child in your life to give during the upcoming holiday season? Something homemade that inspires the imagination? Something that gives kids hands on experience with herbs?
Maybe it is just me and my obsession with the stuff. I do seem to talk about it a lot and make it often. But in my opinion, play dough is really one of the best homemade gifts for little kids. By adding herbs and essential oils to play dough kids get to experience herbs in an up close and personal way. I find that they absolutely love it! I smile every year when I make up a big batch of Christmas play dough to send off in the mail to all the sweet young ones in my life and of course I always make extra for my own kids to play with, though this year they seem less interested. So sad, I guess they are growing up!
Last night we made up a special batch to send off. We used lots of fun things to make it smell and sparkle like the Holidays.
- ground cinnamon, copious amounts
- ground cloves
- beet root powder for color
- pink rose petals
- orange essential oil
- lots of different colors of glitter (this part is not so environmental... ah well...)
Once it was all cooked up and had cooled off we portioned it into plastic bags to keep it fresh and then wrapped it with sparkly tissue paper. This will make a fun addition to gifts we send off in the mail! Check out my post on Herbal Play Dough for the recipe to make your own play dough.
The following links have great variations on play dough...
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Amanda from Natural Living Mamma
Katie from Mexican Wild Flower
Angela from Mama Rosemary.
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When I share herbs with kids I love to do it on as many levels as possible, engaging all their senses. Of course taste, touch and smell are huge when working with herbs plus most herbs are a visual feast for the eyes.
This day, cinnamon day, was no exception. Cinnamon is delicious and approachable often bringing up memories of comfort from home with its sweetly spicy taste, yummy fragrance and warming properties. It is a great herb for working with kids. They simply love the taste, the smell and it is a familiar herbs for most.
We had an absolutely lovely, cozy day playing with cinnamon. I made the kids warm cinnamon milk for snack time which they LOVED. Making cinnamon milk is so easy and at the same time tastes so special. Because the preschool I work at is vegan, I used almond milk for the kiddos combining it with a bit of cinnamon, enough to really flavor the milk without being overwhelming, and then heated it to a nice warm drinkable temperature.
Cinnamon Play Dough
Our hands on experience was making cinnamon play dough. I have a great love of play dough stemming back from my childhood and combining herbs with play dough is just about one of the best things ever in my opinion! I made a big supply of fresh play dough and brought it in still warm for the kiddos to enjoy.
As the kids playing I sprinkled on ground cinnamon and the warmth of the play dough interacting with the cinnamon made for a lovely smell. We also added a bit of orange essential oil to the play dough for an extra dimension of fragrance.
I brought in lots of cinnamon sticks for them to use with the play dough.
Play Dough Recipe
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp oil
Optional: powdered herbs for color, either mix in when cooking (can give more even color) or let the kids mix in at the table.
Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan. Add the water and oil. Stir together and heat slowly over low heat. Stir almost constantly until the play dough sets up. Let it cool to warm before playing, play dough right off the stove is hot.
While they played I read the story of Cinnamon, Queen of the Spices from A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra. If you haven't checked out this book, you really are in for a treat when you do! It is chock full of ideas, stories, recipes and herbal inspiration for kids.
Cinnamon Day was a simple creative day of great fun and rich experience. A time to connect with a beautiful tasty plant friend.
The new school year is quickly approaching for us at our very sweet little preschool. Some of the kids will be coming to school for the very first time. In fact they may have never been away from their mama. Because needless to say, for some kids (and their parents too), the first day of school can be intimidating, scary and even a bit traumatic. I know I sat in my car and cried for a good twenty minutes after I dropped my oldest daughter off on her first day of preschool. Every year on this very special day we help the kids adjust to their new environment by offering a time-honored and much loved activity, playdough, made a bit friendlier with the addition of calming essential oils and herbs.
Playing with playdough on its own provides stress relief through tactile squeezing and massaging of the smooth squishy dough. With essential oils added the child instantly gets all the benefits of aromatherapy. Breathing deepens as the oils are inhaled calming the mind and body, bringing about a sense of peace. Read Herbal Playdough for more info on the benefits of playdough and to get some great ideas for making your own colorful fragrant completely chemical free playdough. It is fun to let each child custom make their own playdough to take home. They have something fun they made to share with their family at the end of the big day.
Materials you will need:
Prepared Playdough or you can make the playdough with the kids. Here is my favorite recipe:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp oil
Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan. Add the water and oil. Stir together and heat slowly over low heat. Stir almost constantly until the playdough sets up. Let it cool to warm before playing, playdough right off the stove is hot.
Food Coloring (Please note that I am searching for affordable coloring made from natural materials that are healthy. I do use powdered herbs for coloring when making a large quantity of one colored playdough for the school, yet I need something wonderful for coloring playdough when we are making personal playdough for taking home. If any one has a source, please share!)
Essential Oils I like to offer lavender, sweet orange, cardamon, spearmint, rosemary and rose geranium.
Dried Herbs like lavender blossoms, ground cinnamon and rose petals
Here is how I do this fun activity:
- Give each child a nice blob of playdough and some playdough toys.
- Have them pick out one color from your food colors to add to their playdough. Put a couple of drops of food coloring in their playdough and start mixing it in for them so they don't get a big blob of food coloring on their hands. You will have rainbow hands at the end.
- Let everyone smell the essential oils. I usually talk with the kids a bit about smelling the oil by inhaling, not exhaling. And then we practice. I tell them to be sure not to touch their nose to the bottle. This keeps the oils clean and safe for everyone to use. Then let them choose which oils they want in their playdough. I have found that most kids will want every oil!
- Have the child make a hole in the playdough. Then you place a drop or two of oil in the hole and take a moment to personally squish up the oil into the playdough so that the oil doesn’t come into direct contact with the child’s skin. It is safe once it diluted into the playdough.
- Offer herbs and glitter for the kids to mix into their playdough. Just dust a bit over the top of their playdough or make a little pile on the side for them to add in. Some kids find the glitter and herbs to be "sharp" but usually they love adding in more and more as they go.
- When the child is done playing, bag up their playdough so they can take it home at the end of the day.
How do you welcome little ones to your school for that first big day? I would love to hear all about it!
Well, the first day has come and went. We had a blast making our playdough. Some of the kids made some really neat pieces of art with their playdough and all the additions we used. Fresh lavender stalks became trees and dried roses became lava.
Enjoy the pictures!
Please Note about essential oils: Essential oils are concentrated plant substances. They are dangerous and should not be used unsupervised around children. Always keep the oils up and out of reach when you aren’t using them and be sure that an adult is the one who holds and uses the bottles. I tell the kids that the essential oils are for teachers to use. Some oils smell like really yummy food, so please do be careful. Use mild oils like the ones listed above.