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
Finding meaningful ways to engage children in becoming aware of and exploring their emotions is an important step towards raising confident, happy kids. And the last few weeks the kids and I filled our time together breathing deep, talking about our emotions and playing! I would like to share some of the wonderful projects we did that helped us engage our whole-selves, become aware of our emotions and find ways to center ourselves. These projects are perfect to do with young children and even have complete lesson plans for those of you working with a group of kids. Most of the projects have a bit of science thrown in while all of them offer kid-approved fun and creativity!
Conduct a science experiment with essential oils to see what oils insight certain feelings. Then create a unique piece of art work inspired by an aroma of your choice!
Create a beautiful fragrant meditative mandala from lovely botanicals.
Create a special mind jar with a friendly face. This project helps kids learn to breathe and slow down with they feel out of sorts.
A special twist on Meditation Friends that allows for even more personalization of your child's special new friend!
Simple yoga play with a favorite elephant! We used this super fun book to guide us through a morning of giggly yoga.
Do you have any special ways to help kids learn about emotions or mindful ways of how to engage themselves? I would love to hear about them and give them a try!
Wishing you lots of peaceful fun!
Frustrated, angry muscles and nerves plagued me over the past few days leaving me all sore and aching. When I am sore I always try to fit in a nice hot soak in the tub. Even with just epsom salts and hot water, I usually feel so much better after soaking. This time I made my bath even more soothing with the following blend of salts and herbs ~ oatstraw to ease my nerves and rosemary for muscle soreness. It worked wonders!
Make Your Own ~
In a cloth or muslin bag wrap:
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dried rosemary leaf
- 1/2 cup oatstraw
Toss the bundle in the tub and fill with the hottest water from your faucet. Let the herbs steep in the tub until the water is cool enough for bathing about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the heat of your water. The water will turn a buttery light yellow.
- 1 to 2 cups Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 5 drops ginger essential oil
- 5 drops rosemary essential oil
- 2 drops vetivert essential oil
My vetivert essential oil has turned into a thick syrup oil so I had to patiently wait for each drop to slowing make it's way out of the bottle but it was so worth it!
After this bath I felt relaxed, centered and less soreness. I took my bath quite hot and only stayed in for about 15 minutes, it was like soaking in an herbal hot springs. Then I got out and laid on the floor with my feet on the sill of an open window. I laid there breathing deep and relaxing. As my body cooled down the tension drained out of my muscles. I felt so calm and peaceful. My muscles and nerves are finally nourished, letting go of tension...
A meditation, or mind jar, is a jar filled with liquid, like water and glitter. The child shakes the jar which sends the glitter spinning and spiraling. The glitter is like a busy mind, and mind full of thoughts maybe even negative thoughts that swirls and feels crazy. Has the glitter settles down and the child watches it breathing deep into their belly, they can focus on the glitter and let their mind settle down.
These new kids on the block have a special something added to them~ we created layers in the bottle by adding oil colored with a bit of food coloring to the water. This makes it take longer for the contents to settle down giving the child more time to breathe and calm down. It also makes the liquid a bit more sparkly.Read More
Yesterday... Outside a light drizzling haze of rain has begun which promises to give way soon into a steady downpour. Walking home from the bus will likely be a wet adventure in worm hunting with rain drip dropping on each of our umbrellas. When my kids get off the bus they are worn out, ready to relax and let down their guard. Ready to be home. I love to support and help them relax with nourishing snacks and a hug.Read More
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.
Lucky am I, my kids love school. We have a wonderful local school for them to attend with caring attentive teachers, excellent technical resources and lots of friends. One of my kids loves school so much that she bounced into the car as we headed home from the last day of school and immediately asked, "Can we go back to school shopping?"
Even so, about two weeks before school is set to start I can feel it creeping in... anticipation and unrest. My kids are ready for and looking forward to school but nervous. And let's face it, waiting for anything can be tough. We have had everything from nervous upset tummies to sleep disturbances to the daytime crazies. This year to help ease the transition we are all drinking a calming infusion of wonderful herbs and it seems to be keeping things in check. Everyone is a bit calmer and sleeping well at the moment. And Mommy is also keeping her cool.
This infusion (strong tea) nourishes the nervous system, calms digestion, encourages restful sleep and eases stress. It is simple and easy to make with a bit of forethought. Really any combination of these herbs would work great. I use dried herbs but fresh would work fine though you may wish to increase the amount you infuse as dried herbs are more potent than fresh.
- Oat Straw
- Oat Seed
- Chamomile Blossoms
- St. John's Wort Flowers
I make this infusion in 2 parts because oat straw and oat seed need to be infused for a long time to bring out their nourishing properties, vitamins and minerals. While the chamomile becomes bitter when steeped to long and the St John can become a bit strong in my opinion.
Instructions: Place a palmful each of oat straw and oat seed to a quart jar. Fill the jar half way with hot water. Let sit for 4 to 8 hours. I start this in the morning when I am making breakfast. Then strain the resulting liquid into another jar or tea pot and add a palmful each of chamomile and St. John's wort to the quart jar. Fill again half way with hot water and put a lid on top to keep the chamomile's essential oil from escaping. Let sit for 3 to 6 minutes, no more as it will get bitter. Strain into the container holding your oat straw/seed infusion. I add a little bit of honey, maybe a 1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste), to the infusion and serve it at the dinner table in fancy tea cups.
The result is a mild flowery tasting tea calming to the nerves that my kids love!
About the herbs in your tea:
- Oat Straw and Oat Straw~ Often used as a long-term nervous system tonic, oats are extremely nourishing to frazzled nervous. They ease stress, irritability and anxiety.
- Chamomile Blossoms ~ Chamomile is soothing for the nerves and supports healthy digestion easing that nervous tummy some kids get. It is high in vitamins and minerals which strengthen the nervous system.
- St. John's Wort Flowers ~ St. John's Wort is most commonly known for its usefulness in easing depression. I find it is also useful in easing acute stress when drunk as an infusion and something about combining it with Chamomile enhances its sunshiny properties. My kids have responded time and again to St. John's and Chamomile combined for nightmares and night terrors. Please note that there are some contradictions when combining St. John's Wort with pharmaceuticals, consult your doctor. St. John's Wort is also reported to increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun.
Enjoy and best wishes for a beautiful school year.
A cool rainy afternoon is a cookie baking afternoon at our house. A time for ruminating in the kitchen over a delicious, comforting delicacy. Because the heat of summer has been so intense this year, I know we must seize this particular cool afternoon... it could be the last one like it for a while.Read More