Does it surprise you in the least that one of the first volunteer projects we did with the Princess's preschool class was to start them an herb garden? Of course not, I didn’t think so.
Kids are like little sponges. If you make something fun and interesting, they just absorb the information up. And when you let them be part of something, they get a wonderful sense of ownership.
The above picture is Cuban Oregano (it is in the pot with the Aloe Vera). This plant started out as a small piece of broken Cuban Oregano from our home. We started it in a glass of water so the kids could see how it grew roots. Once it was big enough, they were part of planting it and now watching how big it is growing.
The Aloe Vera plant was a rescue. At the high school there is a compost pile and a place where people can drop off unwanted containers/pots for the students to use. Well, someone dumped their Aloe Vera plant in the compost pile. It was pretty beaten up but, it gave the kids a fun chance to see a plant being rescued and brought back to life.
Since we volunteer with the high school students as well and have access to their wonderful greenhouse, we have a lot of herbs growing right now. So, starting a small window ledge herb garden for the children at the preschool was just a natural thing to do.
One of the first herbs we introduced was Thyme. Once the plant was large enough we showed the kids how to harvest the plant. Then we dried it in the classroom. Once it was completely dried, we crushed it up and they each took a small amount and sprinkled it on their snack (hummus) and were able to try it. I have no idea if the kids really liked it or just the fact that it was their plant but, they all were raving about how good it was.
We occasionally will bring in a new herb. They are always so excited when they can pinch a leaf and smell it. They know that this one is a “Pizza Herb” (oregano) or that one is a “Candy Herb” (peppermint). It is so fun to see their faces when the recognition of the scent hits them!
The sense of smell is such a powerful sense. It was interesting to observe one of the children smell the citronella when we first brought it into the class room. When a new herb comes in, they each get to smell it and this child instantly said, “That smells like camping!” This is a 3 year old! How cool.
Involving children so young is amazing. They are so eager for new and fun information. And who knows, we may have planted a seed or two and created some future gardeners!