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5 Ways to Learn With Dandelions

We have been homeschooling for 13 years, and still there are days where I am amazed at what my children’s own natural curiosity brings about.  Because of my daughter’s inquisitiveness and excitement last week, even I learned something new!

After eating lunch on our back deck, I watched my Seven skip through the yard on her way to the woods when she suddenly stopped short and froze for a moment. A second later, she started jumping up and down, whooping and hollering because she had found dandelions.  She picked a couple, then turned and ran back to the deck exclaiming, “We can do a science experiment with these!”

Honestly, I thought she would bring me a bouquet, but this was even better. I don’t know what experiment she was referencing – or if she even knew what she wanted to do with them – but I love that when she saw the happy little flowers, her mind immediately went into discovery mode.  

We spent the next hour trying all kinds of new things with dandelions, including (drumroll)….coloring with them!  Did you know this was even possible?!  I had no idea!  After I showed her that you can rub the head of a dandelion on your skin to color it yellow, we decided to try it on paper, and voila!  We sat and colored yellow pictures in the sun, brainstorming even more ways we could experiment with the pile of flowers my kids had picked.

We used crayons to outline, but all of the yellow colored-in areas were filled by rubbing dandelion flowers on the paper!

This experience is a great example of what happens when we give our children the space to play, explore and discover  on their own.  Not only do they learn, they love the process of learning and pursue it on their own!

In the spirit of natural learning spawned through curiosity and excitement, here are five ways to learn with dandelions:  

Five Things You Can Do With Dandelions Today:

  • Color with them.  Rub the head of a dandelion flower on paper to get a yellow color to appear.  As your children are picking flowers, set out some paper, crayons and colored pencils.  Then watch their eyes as they discover that the flowers will fill the paper with color!
  • Paint with them.  Use freshly plucked flowers as natural paintbrushes, or dip and stamp onto paper, noticing the different shapes that appear.  Additionally, try your hand at making watercolor paint!  Strip the flowers of the stem, leaves, and any other green parts.  Collect all of the yellow petals in a small dish, then add just enough boiling water to cover them.  Let them steep for 10-15 minutes, then grab brushes and watercolor paper to create some botanical art!
  • Dissect and observe them.  Pull apart a dandelion, looking closely at all of the different pieces that make up the whole plant.  Ask questions like, “Why do you think the stem is hollow?  What do you see at the base of the petal?  Why do you think it is like that?”  If you have several in your yard (I won’t tell!), gather several together, focusing on finding flowers in different stages of development.  Then observe, dissect, and compare them.  Arrange them in order to form the life cycle of the plant and talk about what happens in each stage.
  • Make dandelion tea.  Wash the flowering heads of dandelions, then add to a dish of boiling water.  Steep for 10-30 minutes.  Use a sieve to separate the tea from the petals, then drink warm or set your dish in the fridge for several hours to cool off.  Add some lemon juice or honey to enhance the flavor.  Together, look up the health benefits of dandelions and how they’ve been used medicinally throughout history.  What other parts of the plant can be used to make tea or added to food?  (Make sure not to consume any dandelions from a yard or field that has been sprayed with chemical weed killer.)
  • Play with them.  Kids are so imaginative!  Give them free time to gather dandelions for making “soup”, braiding into bracelets, and more.  Free play engages a child’s creativity and inventiveness!

So much learning can happen in ordinary moments and in our own backyard if we are paying attention.  So, go outside, grab a few dandelions and try something new!

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