Summer is here and the plants are lush and plentiful. You want to learn more about herbs and you want to bring your kids along on that journey. But how? How can you incorporate herbal learning into your daily routine? Well, summertime is the perfect time for starting a habit that will stay with you throughout the year! Last week we talked about how to get started. Today’s email is a bit of a continuation on that theme. Remember, learning doesn’t have to take place in a classroom. We are constantly learning. Here, I like to call our learning style lifeschooling. Because really, life is school, there’s no way to turn our brains off from the learning process.
So, with that in mind, how can we incorporate learning into our daily routine?
Adding edible and nourishing herbs to your daily diet
We all have to eat, so why not make it a habit to add herbs to our daily meals?
Nourishing herbal infusions and sun teas make wonderful summertime drinks to sip on. Try Nettles, Linden, Milky Oats, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Tulsi for delightful summertime infusions. To make an infusion, steep 2 large handfuls of dried herb in 1/2 gallon of boiling water for 4 – 8 hours. Strain and refrigerate. This will draw out the vitamins and minerals of these herbs. As you make the infusion, talk with your children about the vitamins and minerals that these herbs have and how they nourish our bodies.
Add fresh herbs to your daily salads. Sage, Thyme, Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Dandelion leaves and flowers, Violet leaves and flowers, Chickweed, Plantain (tender leaves), Chicory and Borage flowers, Ox Eye Daisy flowers and leaves, Motherwort leaves, etc. Don’t be afraid to add those bitters in there, they are great for digestion. Top them off with herbal infused vinegars and oils. Kids love to not only make those infused vinegars and oils but salads too! Salad making is a great time to review the many uses of each herb as you add them to the salad.Don’t forget that many make great pot herbs too: Nettles, Yellow Dock, Dandelion, Lamb’s Quarters and many more can be boiled and sautéed and served similarly to Spinach, Kale and Collard greens.Try drying Dandelion leaves to sprinkle onto your foods before eating. You’ll gain the benefits of his vitamins and minerals without his bitterness. But, don’t try to remove all bitterness from your diet, bitters are an important part to our daily digestion.Eat something wild every day. Go outside and pick a leaf (make sure you properly identify it so you don’t eat something poisonous) and eat it. Dandelion flowers, Plantain, Red Clover leaves and flowers, Rose petals, Blackberries, Mulberries…try to guess what they are used for based on their tastes.Check out another post about eating wild every day here.
Choose a Herbal Ally
Make a commitment to learn about 1 herb this summer. Have fun experiments with that 1 herb, if it’s one that can be eaten, incorporate into weekly meals; make all kinds of medicine with that plant: oil, salve, vinegar, extract, poultices, compresses, infusion/decoction, tea, syrup, elixir…every kind of medicine you can think of, even if it’s not usually used in that manner. Then, try out the medicine you make and keep notes on what’s effective and what’s not. Talk about what you think your plant would be good for based on his characteristics: smells, tastes, plant family, etc. For instance, Lemon Balm is a member of the Mint family. Mints are generally good for the digestive system so based on that, Lemon Balm is good for the digestive system. He smells delightful, making you want to eat him! Here’s a free printable to get you started with your herbal ally.
Got a cut, bee sting or a bug bite? Find some Plantain, chew it up and put it directly on the bite. Rub some Yarrow or Catnip on your bare arms to discourage mosquitos.
Use your Herbal Roots zine resources
On hot summer days when it’s just too unbearable to get outside, break out the Herbal Roots zine activities. Look for our ‘freebies‘ tab on my website, it’s my gift to all of you, with lots of fun game adaptation ideas, a printable Herbal Bingo kit, a Herbal Profile Template that can be used with any herb you are learning about and many other fun things.Of course, Herbal Roots zine ebooks are always chock full of games, puzzles, stories, and other activities to make incorporating herbal learning into your everyday learning.Next week I’ll talk a bit about ways to encourage kids to learn about herbs.Try out a few of these ideas (or all if you’re feeling ambitious) and let me know how you’re getting started in teaching your kids about herbs on my Facebook page.