Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
I’m seeing lots of mothers posting things on social media about their kids being a bit stir crazy. Or maybe it was their kids making them crazy. Either way, you might want to get your kids outside and put together a Herbarium.
A Herbarium is a book (think inexpensive binder) about plants. Each page has a leaf or flower of a plant that has been dried, flattened and pasted onto the page. Next to the leaf your child writes the place they found the plant and the date. Next they add the common name and the scientific name of the plant. That information is easily found on the internet as well as plant apps that can be downloaded for free. Let your child write what the plant can be used for, as well as how it smells and feels. There may be plants in your yard that are not edible, so lets not go so far as taste testing.
This project can be added to daily and can be used during the entire quarantine, giving outdoor time that is full of education for both parent (temporary teacher) and child. If you have more than one child, let each have his or her own book and work in different parts of the yard which might help with “sibling distancing”.
A magnifying glass is always something that kids want to play with. Taking a close up look at the plant and making observations can be really fun. Is it smooth or fuzzy? Does the top side of the leaf look the same as the underneath side? And if there is a bug that is always a bonus!
Once you have cultivated an interest in plants, you may want to start a small herb garden in your kitchen window. Kids love it when the first sprouts come through the soil and later get to eat what they grew.
There are many online sources, even free printables, for your Herbarium project.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.