Wild garlic toast

Wild garlic toast: Delicious wild garlic leaves are gathered, rinsed and snipped, mixed with butter and spread onto bread, ready for toasting over the fire. A delicious speedy snack.

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Check you are collecting wild garlic, and not lily of the valley, by smelling the distinctive garlicy leaves. Lily of the valley has similar looking leaves but is poisonous, so be sure. To forage sustainably, take leaves from different plants, leaving plenty for the plants to continue to grow healthily. Seeds can be bought to start your own crop, which grows easily and spreads happily.

Ingredients: wild garlic leaves, butter or margarine, bread.

Tools and utensils: bowl and fork for mixing, scissors for snipping, knife for spreading, toasting rack or campfire grill.

  1. Gently rinse the leaves to remove any dirt or little creatures.
  2. Cut the wild garlic leaves into small pieces.
  3. Mix with the butter or margarine in a mixing bowl.
  4. Cook toast on the campfire.
  5. Spread on the wild garlic butter and heat through.
  6. Enjoy your tasty snack.

Dandelion Days

It’s easy to ignore dandelions as just weeds, but they are also one of the most versatile teaching tools found in the garden. From making jars of delicious dandelion to understanding life cycles and writing poetry; all much more fun than weeding!

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Dandelion honey: The dandelion is one of nature’s great survivors and is so much more than just a weed.  Its name comes from the French – “dent de lion“, meaning lion’s tooth, as the leaves are deeply serrated – a wonderfully bold and brave name. Dandelions have many uses – they have traditionally medicinal uses. Young leaves can be eaten in salads and stir-fries and are rich in vitamins and minerals. The flower heads can be used to make dandelion wine, while the bitter root can be dried to make a substitute for coffee.

Tastiest of all though is dandelion honey. Make sure you only pick dandelions for edible use in an area that is free from toxins, and leave some flower heads for the bees to make their own honey.

honey-352205_640Simply soak two cups of dandelion flowers in two cups of water over night. Strain to remove all the flower heads, and squeeze all the liquid from the petal pulp. Boil the flower water with the same weight in sugar. (Use the fact that 1ml of water weighs 1g to work out how much sugar you need.) When the sugar has dissolved keep mixing until it thickens, heating for longer depending on how runny you would like your honey. Transfer to a sterilised jar and allow to cool. Delicious on campfire toast.

Dandelion journey:  Dandelions move through their life cycle so quickly that they offer instant investigations, with simultaneous stages of growth often visible from bud to seed. A patch of un-mown and untended garden will almost always be home to a dandelion or two. Make and label observational drawings or take a series of “time-lapse” photos to chart the life cycle.

dandelion-5064638_640Dandelion dispersal: Dandelions seeds are blown by the wind, each seed has its own individual parachute. Wind is one of the main methods of seed dispersal and one of the most interesting to create a scientific investigation around, linking to forces in science, as well as plants. Can you make a parachute for items heavier than seeds, try out different designs, time how long they take to land and describe why the times are different?

BBC science clip – lifecycle of a dandelion: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zhrb4wx

Dandelion maths: Dandelions offer a great opportunity to work with really big numbers, scale, and measure in context. One dandelion plant can produce around 2,000 wind-dispersed seeds. Each individual seed head can produce around 50 to 170 seeds, each capable of becoming a new plant. The seeds are carried on the wind and can travel relatively long distances. Estimate the number of dandelions in your garden and calculate the potential number of dandelion flowers they could produce.

Blow a dandelion seed head, watch where the seeds go then measure the distance to where the farthest one lands.  Why might this distance change?

Dandelion poetry: Children often call the seed heads dandelion clocks, telling the time by the number of puffs it takes to remove all the seeds and disperse them in the wind, one o’clock, two o’clock…  a lovely way to reinforce the language of time. Challenge children to invent a dandelion clock rhyme or a dandelion clock shape poem with the words blowing off the page.

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Treasures and trails

Natural bracelets

Going on a sensory, nature walk to spot little natural treasures can include a little collecting along the way. Create a natural bracelet with a strip of fabric and double sided sticky tape to stick your mini treasures to as you find them. Look out for signs of spring turning to summer, observe the different colours and shades of the same colour around, touching and smelling plants as you wander by. Collect leaves, petals, small flowers, a feather to decorate your bracelet as a memory of your journey.

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Nature’s own trails: You may spot little creatures out on a treasure trail of their own.

Snail and slugs Look for the tell tale silvery trails left by these creatures. How do they generate the slime? Where do the trails lead? What kind of surfaces have the most trails? Why do you think this is? Are there any surfaces slugs and snails don’t seem to like?

We have tried adding broken up egg shells and used coffee to the edges of our seedlings patch to try to stop slugs and snails eating our plants. 

Ants follow their scent trail on their home or to a food source.  Try placing a slice of banana or small piece of apple a short way from their trail, then check back to see how long it takes them to find it. Try placing a large flat leaf or a small piece of paper across the trail. What happens? Does it confuse them? How long does it take them to reinstate their scent trail across it? What happens if you then turn the paper or leaf over?

 

Plant a rainbow

An edible rainbow of flowers and herbs can be enjoyed through the spring and summer months. Red lollo rosso, nasturtiums, marigold, rocket, borage and lavendar make a colorful culinary collection, a beautiful sight in the garden and an opportunity for all areas of learning.

Dig the patch for some healthy activity.
Mark out the space and divide into sections for each plant, or a pattern of planting for some designing and maths.
Research recipes for different edible flowers and herbs for English skills and reading.
Grow plants from seed and care for them, following the life cycle of plants through the seasons for science.
Take photographs and keep a record of your patch.
Mix a colour wheel of rainbow colours and paint your design, and your flowers as they grow for some creative, artistic activity.
Harvest your crops and make healthy snacks, following and creating new recipes.

Make a change

Continuing with the springtime theme of change and transformation, today is all about the power of making little changes in ourselves and noticing the world around us in a different way.

Change…your view. Use a small mirror placed across the bridge of your nose to see what is happening up above you. With a partner as a guide (linking arms and giving quiet, clear instructions to keep everyone safe). If you can be under the trees, imagine you are a squirrel looking for the best tree to build your drey. Or take a closer look at the clouds and what’s going on overhead above you (not suitable for bright sunshine).
Great for working together, listening carefully, looking with interest from a different perspective.

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Change…your walk. Make cards from a selection of … like a spy, like a bee, like a deer, like a police officer, like a monkey, like a pirate, like a dinosaur, like a queen, like a robin, like a ballet dancer, like a spaceman, like a cat. Take turns to move in the way that your card tells you to move and ask others to guess your card.
Great for observing, being active and describing movements in preparation for descriptive writing.

Change…your expression. Explore what happens when you move around showing different facial expressions. How does it make you feel when you are smiling? When someone smiles at you? When you frown or look surprised?
Great for understanding the power of a smile and developing self-awareness.

Take a tiny seed

Springtime seed planting can carry on in gardens and window sills around the country. Here’s a couple of ideas for your seed planting.sunflower-seed-1213766__340

Create… a tiny masterpiece

seeds-1918001_640Look closely at tiny seeds to develop observation skills.
Make sketches of a range of seeds before sowing them in the garden or using them in seed bombs (below). The incredible range of shapes and sizes can be explored and represented through simple pencil and coloured pencil drawings. Or choose one seed to magnify for a large picture, scaling up a hundred times (is that a little maths hiding in an art activity?)

 

Grow… a quick winter salad

Plant quick-grow salad leaves in pots or a tray inside.  Cress is the familiar one but also try a range of more exotic micro salad leaves, like rocket and pea shoots (most seed companies now produce micro-leaf seed mixes and many are delivering on-line).
Micro leaves are usually ready to harvest within a week or two of sowing, a satisfyingly swift result for inquisitive children. 

The first leaves that emerge from a seed are called cotyledons, or seed leaves. The next pair are the true leaves of the plant. Some micro leaves are harvested as soon as the first seed leaves emerge, and others when the true leaves grow.

bloom-1239031_640 When your micro green leaves have grown, use to top a pizza, make a winter salad, or egg and cress sandwiches and enjoy!

 

Make… a seed “bomb”

Guerrilla gardening greens-up empty and abandoned areas with native wild plants or edible herbs and flowers, preferably bee and butterfly friendly varieties. A seed “bomb” is compost mixed with flour and water and your chosen mix of seeds. Once thrown and the seeds have begun to germinate, the components will slowly break apart. The soil will then provide a base for the seeds to start growing. 

Empty your chosen seeds into a bucket or tray.
Add compost to the bucket. Stir to mix everything together.
In another container, put the flour, add water stirring until you have a gloopy mixture, i.e. glue! (approximate ratios:  1 part seeds/ 6 parts compost/ 2 parts flour mixture).
Add the flour and water mixture to the compost and seeds mixture and stir it all together.
Gently roll the mix in the hand to form small balls.
Place the balls in a tray or box and allow them to dry for 24 hours. 

sunflower-4206171_640 Take to a neglected patch of soil to bring it back to life, checking out how the seeds are growing each week.