Thursday, January 04, 2007

Little plants

It all started a few years ago at Brandywine Battlefield. There was a woman talking about medicines from plants and how they were used in the 18th century. There has been talk on and off about the topic and finding out more. There was the planting of an herb garden and a perking up of the ears when someone mentioned the use of a plant in healing. The interest broadened to include other plants. Fungi, mosses and liverworts were of latest interest and were studied in the most depth of any so far. This is due, I believe to a slight change in how Erin processes information as she's developed a greater capacity and desire for details. Topping off her Christmas list was an encyclopedia about the medical uses of plants - that's what I mean by greater capacity and interest in details!

Grandmom came through this past weekend with the book. We've been treated to the explanations of the various ways of controlling acne and how aloe is good for healing burns and cuts. As I noticed her getting throughly engrossed by the book, I encouraged her, but also set up a parameter, "No herbal medical treatments unless approved by Mom!" (Some of the warnings in the book were very serious.) She's gotten little jars to store aloe pieces and a lemon juice face wash. We may order some lavender buds to make lavender pillows to aid in sleep and mood.

In the meantime, she also got a new terrarium from a family friend which she has filled with some pieces of moss, a rock or two and a shell. She loves the little gardening bag with small tools that came with the terrarium and is diligently misting her plants daily.

There is no way I could have planned this. Medicinal herbs isn't a topic that is normally covered in school. Even the fungi, mosses and liverworts would have been a footnote in a middle school botany text. This is the essence of how learning happens in our house. Interests sprout up through experiences and interactions with people and I feed and water them the best I am able. In the areas of history and science especially it is easy to get caught up in making sure content is "covered" but I've found that these are the areas easiest to let interest govern and foster and nurture delight in learning and exploring. You never know what they might end up discovering. (Video of a Ted Talk by Eva Vertes, as a 19 year old researching cancer.)

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