What kid doesn't love bugs? Butterflies, caterpillars, rollie pollies and lady bugs are some of the most treasured critters in the garden. I even know a child who has a deep love and respect for spiders. Of course not every child loves bugs yet many do and lady bugs are among the most enchanting of bugs and are very approachable for most kids.Read More
Many happy days were spent stalking bugs when I was a little child. I had an array of bug catchers and I knew where all the good places were to find a new pal. My often caught favorites were roly polies. I also sought after treasured lady bugs, butterflies and caterpillars which were hard to come by and when I would find one, I would be enchanted with my imagination completely sparked. So, can you guess what one of my favorite things to do with kids? Play with bugs of course! Many, many summer days have found my girls and I "hunting bugs" and going on "roly poly" walks with bug catchers in hand.Read More
Chamomile is a super friendly herb for kids. Chamomile is gentle while being powerful at the same time for helping kids with tummy upset especially when related to nervousness, general nervous tension, headaches and colds.
What Does It Taste Like?
We started our day at preschool with a tea tasting which is a great way to introduce kids to a new plant. Most children love the apple like taste of the tea made from happy sunshiny little flowers. The kids at the school really enjoyed the tea and it seemed to help calm them down a bit... we were having another late Spring snow storm and the kids were all kinda crazy with the sudden change in the weather.
To make your own tea simple steep up to 1 tablespoon of flowers per cup in hot water for 2 to 5 minutes max. If you steep for any longer than that chamomile tea becomes very bitter. Of course children are very sensitive to any bitter taste. You can add a bit of honey or agave to taste if you wish.
The Tale Of Peter Rabbit
After indulging in our tea we sat down for a cozy reading of this classic tale by Beatrix Potter. The kids were still a bit antsy and yet were really involved with the book. Many of them having read Peter Rabbit before, knew what was to come on each and every page. Except when we got to this little bit on the last page where they noticed one little detail which was overlooked before ~
Smiles and giggles came when the kids heard that Peter had chamomile tea, just like they did! We talked about how scared and tired and sick Peter must have felt after has intense adventure in Mr. McGregor's garden. It was a perfect little example from a familiar story about using herbs.
I bet you are wondering what about chamomile potatoes, and so we come to the part of our day when we made these together...
These are not something yummy to eat, though I think creating some kind of recipe with these two ingredients might be interesting. Nope, chamomile potatoes are for growing! Potatoes make great little pots for sprouting plants, just like sprouting plants inside egg shells.
When the seeds have sprouted and are ready to be planted outside you can simply plant the whole potato in the ground. In the past we have given created Potato Heads by using markers and googly eyes to create faces. Then we planted grass inside the potatoes which grew into hair! It is lots of fun to for kids to cut their Potato Head's hair with scissors. Today we simply planted chamomile seeds into our potatoes, gave them a little drink and are eagerly waiting for them to sprout!
- Potatoes, 1 for each child
- A Melon Baller
- Chamomile Seeds
If prepping the potatoes ahead of time you will need:
- Citric Acid or Lemon Juice
- A Big Bowl
Prep the potatoes by cutting the a thin slice off of the top of the potato or the side if the potato is long and skinny. Then using the melon baller remove the center of the potato to make a place for the dirt to go. Test to see if the potato will stand straight by setting it down on a flat surface. If it wobbles or rolls around cut a flat surface on the bottom of the potato so it will stand sturdy and straight. I did this the day before class and I wanted to keep the potatoes fresh. So, I place the potatoes in a big bowl filled with water and a generous sprinkle of citric acid. The potatoes came through the night beautifully!
Have the children fill their potato with dirt and then gently press the tiny chamomile seeds into the top. Help the children give their chamomile potato a small amount of water to help the seeds sprout.
Keep the soil moist and place the potato in a sunny spot. You should have tiny sprouts within about three days, almost instant gratification! When my girls saw these wee little sprouts they instantly exclaimed, "Aw, how cute!"
Within one week the sprouts are much bigger and follow the sun during the day, turning their leaves to soak up nourishing sunlight.
Here are some other wonderful activities for Chamomile Day ~
- Foot Soaks
Spring Time Blessings!
Listening to the peaceful sound of leaves whispering in the wind.
Feeling profound strong comfort of the Earth.
All is well here. All is how it should be.
What a gift to simply take a moment and breathe while watching patterns of the sky and sun shifting between the leaves. Feeling the steady love of Mother Earth cradling and nourishing every cell while letting go into the ground.
My family is truly blessed to live in Colorado where we have easy access to rich beautiful forests. On a recent hike we found a lovely aspen grove. Into it we climbed to find a forest floor strewn with soft plants and leaves. Here we nestled down together for a bit of tree gazing and centering. The wind blowing high above in the tree tops provided a lovely show as we watched the trees dancing and swaying. We let go of the craziness of the school year. We let go of schedules and stress. We let go of concerns.
Pretty soon we found ourselves taking about the beauty of nature and how we can help to preserve it. My six-year-old decided that we should have a "nature day" at least once a week.
"What would you do?" I asked.
"Give nature love and water!" came a vigorous happy reply.
At the edge of the aspen grove was a very amazing tree growing in an interesting shape. What does it look like to you?
We thought maybe a headless warrior...
As summer moves along and eventually transforms into autumn, I hope we have many more family moments, many more simple pleasantly easy afternoons tree gazing.
Fun Fact ~ Aspens are one of the (if not the) largest organism living on Earth. They grow connected under the Earth. So when you see a grove of many aspens, you may only be seeing one living organism!
The magic of butterflies and caterpillars captivates children. A flitter of colorful wings...
A fuzzy, fat, stripey bug creep crawling up a branch...
Discovering nature's treasures like these instantly engage and enchant children (and me too!).
What better insect to choose for a close-up look at life cycles? Last week we studied plant life cycles at the school so the children were already familiar with the idea. I brought in an example butterfly life cycle that I had made with art scrapes from my stash: pompoms (perfect for caterpillar bodies), silk flowers and leaves (leaves to lay eggs on and flowers to pull apart and use for wings), pasta shells (cocoon) and multicolored popcorn (eggs).
As we sat in a circle, I shared the butterfly life cycle with the kids we talked about being scientists by looking at the world and observing what we see. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. As we read, we looked for parts of the butterfly life cycle. We found the egg, and the cocoon and the butterfly; the kids really got it and I was impressed!
Next the kids made their own butterfly life cycles.
I gave them each a leaf to glue down on a piece of paper and then encouraged them to lay "eggs" on their leaves.
On we went including parts of the cycle. I always love to present children with an idea and then let them take it from there and we had many creative life cycles when all was said and done!
A Children's Solstice Celebration
We have a lush happy little patch of violets (Viola odorata) outside at the preschool. I noticed them last week quietly poking their deep purple heads through the soil and smiling with a delightful fragrance. I knew that we had to get outside and be with the violets. Violet are often one of the first flowers to grace us as the sun makes its way closer to us each spring and they are truly a treasure to behold. So what better way to celebrate this first day of spring than by smelling, harvesting and eating violets? Hence today we made our way to the violet patch.
I taught the kids a little song my teacher taught me, a song for the violets. A song to say we are here and we are friends. To say thank you to the violets for giving away to us. And we marched out to the patch singing and excited!
The kids did a wonderful job being careful with the plants and picking just the flowers.
As we all tried the flowers it was delightful to watch little faces light up with the amazing taste of violets.
The children loved them. We talked about how the violet's are good for us and they taste good too!
What a treat!
After gathering a good amount we took the violets inside, washed and dried them. We put them in a jar.
Then we covered them with agave. I usually make violet honey but the preschool is vegan so we are trying using agave this year. We will see how it goes! So far so good. I plan to keep the violets infusing in the agave for a good week or so. Then the agave and violets too will both go into a jars, one for each child to take home and enjoy!
We also read Mother Earth and Her Children by Sibylle Von Olfers. This is an amazingly beautiful book about the coming of spring. It is based off a gorgeous quilt made by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith. There is a little Violet child in the book and we had fun hunting for her and her violet plant. The kids were able to recognized the flower and the leaves in the book!
Perceptive Pint Size Ponderings For Your Monday Amusement
One of my favorite things about being with children is the insightful, funny and innocent things they say. We have all heard them and hopefully had a heart warming, funny or ah-ha moment inspired by the sweetness of a child
Here is something particularly perceptive, amusing or wonderful that I had the honor of being part of...
This morning brought us the challenge of daylight savings time. 6:30 and still snuggled in bed (at what used to be 5:30 just two short days before), I was greeted by the patter of my 6 year olds' feet running into the room. She stood by my bed in the dark and waited a second or two before talking to me.
"Momma I am just so happy to hear the birds singing outside my window."
Wow, I thought what a wonderful greeting for a Monday morning.
Then, after a second or two...
"That means we can grow food soon, to eat!"