Enrichments and Extensions Related to Botany
OR More Fun and Games!
- Tie Dye from Natural Sources - Research which plants in your area provide natural dyes and try processing them and using them to dye a place mat or t-shirt.
- Face Cream - Using olive oil or almond oil blend with melted beeswax and some essential herbal oils. Stir together well and this will solidify into a colloidal cream (good opportunity to talk about
- Aromatherapy - this is where it really comes from - Making essential oils from herbs and flowers is a difficult process, but you can purchase these in many stores and blend them with almond oil to make body oil,
bath oil or massage oil. Research the different herbs and flowers that are used for some of the more exotic oils.
- Sachets & Potpourri's - Collect pine cones and bake in oven at 150 degrees for one hour to dry them and kill any insects. Add any essential oils and any flowers to the mix and put into a large jar to
set for three weeks shaking often. Tie into fabric squares or put into fancy containers.
- Bread Making - Bread making is a neat project incorporating some very important everyday plants like wheat, rye, barley, rice etc. Some classes buy wheat berries in health food stores and grind their own
flour from them. This also gives you the opportunity to talk about yeast and how that is different from a plant although it does have some similarities. If you are really fortunate you might have a
bread oven available at your school and you can combine this into a fund raiser.
- Herbal Toners - Blend equal parts of different herbs (like lavender and sage or thyme, mint and sage) and enough witchhazel to cover any herbs and flowers. Store in a widemouth jar for at least 2 weeks,
shaking frequently then strain and bottle. (Oppenheimer, 1997).
- Making baskets, wreaths, brooms, etc. Many common plants can be incorporated into simple baskets, wreaths and many grasses can be made into decorative or even usable brooms. Have your students
investigate how brooms were made before plastic came into common use.
- Make an herbal vinegar* - Buy or grow herbs in the classroom and make herbal or fruit vinegars. This can be done with herbs by simply combining vinegar (red wine or white) and whichever herbs you think
would blend well together. One good combination is basil, oregano, garlic and peppercorns. After 1 week to 1 month remove the herbs and rebottle. For fruit vinegar you need to bruise the fruit
and combine it with thyme and the vinegar.
- Herb Prints - These can be made on a variety of materials including stationery, placemats, t-shirts, etc. You choice of paints depends upon which material you will put them on, and you need a brayer
(roller) or a dabber.
- Invite a Herbalist into your classroom (or naturopathic health practitioner).
- Invite the students to invite a family member or friend who is knowledgeable about the local plants into the classroom. - This can mean a variety of things including but not limited to people who use plants in
their livlihood, nursery owners, florists, grocers etc.
- Invite your local Forester, Ranger, County Agricultural Agent etc. into the classroom.
- Craft Sale - Have a craft sale as a fundraiser for your students with all of your plant originated handmade materials as the items for sale. The fundraiser can go toward a field trip to a local Nursery,
park or Botanical Garden (where available)
- Mini Glass Suncatchers - Tiny leaves and blossoms that you have pressed, 2 glass microscope slides, clear glue, 1/8" satin or grosgrain ribbon. Make an arrangement on a slide using egg white beaten
until slightly foamy as the glue to hold the plant material down (it will dry clear and not damage the plant). Then add the other slide using a glass glue (Durabond or other glass glue) and then glue the
ribbon around the outside using the glass glue and making a loop at the top to hang.(Oppenheimer 1997)
- Compresses - Investigate making compresses from herbs. Lavender compresses are said to be good for headaches.
- Handmade paper with dried flowers - For this extension you can use any paper (great opportunity to talk about recycling) and dried flowers or herbs. Rather than investing in equipment this can be done with
a tray, an embroidery hoop or small frame, 4 pieces of cotton fabric, a blender, sponges, rolling pin and ironing board. Tear the paper up and soak it in boiling water for ten minutes. Lay the fabric
on the tray and position the frame or hoop in the center. Mix the paper and water in the blender forming a creamy pulp and pour some into the frame/hoop and shake the tray to evenly disperse the
fibers. Lay another piece of cloth on the top and use the sponge to soak up excess water. After you have soaked up all you can with the sponge put dry fabric on the top, remove the frame and use the
rolling pin to squeeze out more water. Finally iron it dry with the iron on medium heat. Carefully peel the paper from the fabric with a knife. You can add dried herbs or flowers just before you
pour the paper pulp for extra special paper. You can also use a variety of plant materials to dye the paper by adding them to the boiling water that you start with (onion skins, beets, red cabbage,
daffodils, and spinach are a few suggestions).
- Calendula Cream - This cream is made with Marigolds and is good for a variety of things including athlete's foot as it is a good antifungal. It is also used for cuts, minor burns and dry skin. You
can make an infusion oil with either fresh or dried flowers and put into a glass jar and covered with safflower oil (readily available in your supermarket). Leave the jar in a sunny place for about 3
weeks, strain it and repeat the process one more time. This can be mixed with melted beeswax until the right texture is reached and put into small containers. Have your students investigate other
common garden flowers to see if they also have any healing properties.
- Press Flowers for Framing - You can purchase very inexpensive frames or mats and mount some pressed flowers. These can be lovely by themselves or with a pretty saying or quotation.
- Grow an herb garden in your classroom - This is a wonderful project as it takes very little room or equipment and the herbs can be used for a large variety of projects once they are grown (see above).
- Investigate plants that are used for fabrics - Cotton is the most common, but linen and other fibrous plants are also used. This can lead to a wonderful investigation of the ways of telling these fabrics or
fibers apart (difference in the fiber composition as viewed under a microscope, burn tests etc.)
- Research old and new world plants -Many students don't realize how many plants were not available until discovered in the new world, and how many plants that we now grow here were introduced by Europeans.
- Experiment with the scents of plants - What happens to the scents as you dry a plant, boil it, soak it in oil, etc. What does this tell you about the chemistry of the scent? What might it tell you
about where the scent originates?
- What types of plants are used topically in their natural form? - This can be an interesting investigation. Everyone thinks of aloe, but what about Jewelweed and Balsam sap and other plants that can be