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Gardening for kids!

Resources for Kids

Herb Plant List

Herbs to grow when working with children in the garden

Container Herbs

Basil         Scented geraniums         Chives
Mints        Lemon Balm                    Rosemary

Herbs that attract Butterflies and Birds

Butterflies - catmint, dill, goldenrod, horehound, lavender, nasturtiums, thyme, yarrow, marigolds, mints, rosemary, and sunflowers

Hummingbirds - nasturtiums, sage, bee balm, salvias, pinapple sage, hummingbird sage, anise hyssop, and sunset hyssop

Monarch butterflies - bee balm/ bergamont, dill, verbena, mints and coneflowers

Goldrinches - purple Coneflower, sunflowers, Mexican sunflowers, and goldenrod

Sensory Herbs

Touch - lamb's ear, wooly thyme, silver sage, yarrow, and coneflowers
Sight - marigolds, sage (purple, Russian, and pineapple), verbena, nasturtiums, lady's mantle, angelica, lavender, sunflowers, and roses
Taste - chives, basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, fennel, nasturtiums, pinapple sage, mints (apple, peppermint, spearmint), salad burnet, stevia, oregano, anise and thyme
Hearing - Herbs such as sage, nasturtiums, and bee balm attract buzzing bees, chattering birds, and hummingbirds
Smell - lavender, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, roses, scented geraniums, mints (peppermint, pineapple), sages, and anise

Easy to Start from Seed

Yarrow                  Mint            Basil             Marigolds
Chives                   Catmint      Nasturtiums
Lemon Balm        Thyme         Dill

Resource List: Growing Herbs with Children

Ayers, Patricia. 2000. A kid’s guide to how herbs grow. PowerKids Press: New York.
Kite, Patricia L. 1995. Gardening wizardry for kids. Barron’s Publishing: Hauppauge, NY.
Krezel, Cindy. 2007.101 Kid friendly plants: fun plants and family garden projects. Ball Publishing: Batavia, Illinois.
Lovejoy, Sharon. 1999. Roots, shoots, buckets, and boots: gardening together with children. Workman Publishing: New York.
Tierra, Lesley. 2000. A kid’s herb book. R.D. Reed Publishing: San Francisco, CA.

Safe Gardening Guidelines -

American Association of Poison Control Centers -
          • 24 hour hotline - 1.800.222.1222
Local extension office – usually a great source to find out more information about poisonous plants in your area

The National Gardening Association – includes lesson plans and other resources

Investigative Herbal Adventures

Try out these cross-curricular herbal adventures with your students:

• How fast does dill grow? - Measure and graph the growth rates of dill plants, make size comparisons
• When will a seed germinate? - Use seed catalog/seed packet information and math to predict when a seed will germinate and how long it will take to mature.
• Predict when a seed would need to be planted in order to be ready for a chosen holiday.
• Compare the sizes of herb seeds?
• Observe and record the air and soil temperatures in your class herb garden?
• Calculate the weight and volume of soil when it is wet and when it is dry.
• Calculate how many sage plants will fit into a 6 ft. x 6 ft. garden
• Demonstrate how cooking with herbs and spices can help you learn fractions.

• Dead or alive? - use basil plants to compare the difference between living and non-living things
• What is pH? - how does pH affect the smell and taste of basil, sage, and oregano
• What happens if I water thyme plants with soda or tomato juice?
• Why do herbs smell? - investigate what parts of herb plants cause them to smell
• Plant identification - press and label various herb plants, draw and diagram the parts of a leaf

• What role have herbs played in the development of modern day medicine? - have the students interview a pharmacist about the role of herbs in the development of medicine, have them write a written report or give an oral report to share what they have learned.
• Compare and contrast the facts and fiction about various herb plants.
• Describe various herb plants growing in your garden
• Write a letter to your local extension service or botanic garden asking a “plant-related” question?
• Learn to use the library or internet by researching a certain type of herb or plant                

• What role has herbs and spices played in different cultures?
• How are herbs and spices used around the world?
• Do herbs have economic uses? -  examine the ingredient labels of various household products to determine whether herbs are listed in the ingredients, visit the grocery store and look for products that use herbs

• What role do herbs play in healthy eating?
• Can herbs be used to spice up vegetable dishes?
• Do herbs have nutritional value?
• Use herbs to learn about how to harvest and preserve food?

CULTURAL ARTS – music, art, drama
• Paint or draw various herbs and plants
• Write a play that depicts the life cycle of a sunflower or other plants
• Does basil like Beethoven? - learn how music affects plant growth and behavior
• Make or decorate clay pots for a school plant sale
• Develop advertising skills by designing marketing materials and plant labels for a school plant sale.
• Write the lyrics for songs that teach about the parts of a plant or the life cycle of a plant       
• Decorate rain barrels for a school plant sale or for use by your school.

• Do herbs have a strong smell?                                
Activity #1: Divide the students into groups of 3 to 4. Give each group two to three clippings of fresh herbs, a carnation, and a clipping from a houseplant. Have the students compare the plants and record their observations in a notebook. Next, have the students label their four bowls with Herb One, Herb Two, Carnation, and Houseplant. Have them use their scissors to chop up each of the plants. Place each one in the four bowls. Have students observe the smell of each one and record their observations. Materials needed: - various fresh herbs (dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay,), carnations, clippings from houseplants (coleus, ferns, etc.), scissors, four bowls

• Do herbs and plants have economic uses?
Activity#1: Have the children examine the ingredient labels of various household products to look for ones that use herbs in them and have them list these in their notebooks. Next, have them look at home and in their local grocery store for products that use herbs in the ingredients. Materials needed: various household products that have herbs in the ingredients. Items such as herbal shampoos, mint

Investigative Herbal Adventures Resources List

Barkman, Robert. 1999. Science through multiple intelligences. Zephyr Press: Chicago.

Barrett, Katharine D., Jennifer M. White and Christine Manoux. 2008. Botany on your plate: investigating the plants we eat.
The National Gardening Association: Burlington, VT.

Daoust, Cindy K., editor. 2000. Plants: curriculum-based hands-on activities. The Education Center, Inc.: Greensboro, NC.

Chalufour, Ingrid, and Karen Worth. 2003. Discovering nature with young children. Redleaf Press: St. Paul, MN.

Gammill, Amy, M.Ed. 2004. Web resources for science activities. (Self-published) Smith, Mary D., M.S. Ed.

Glock, Jenna, and Susan Wertz, and Maggie Meyer. 1999. Discovering the naturalist intelligence: science in the schoolyard. Zephyr Press: Chicago.

Starbuck, Sara, and Marla Olthof, and Karen Midden. 2002. Hollyhocks and honeybees: garden projects for young children. Redleaf Press: St. Paul, MN.

Edutopia -

Kidsgardening -

Project Based Learning -   -  Free login must be created to access material

An introduction to project-based learning


Funding Ideas for School Gardens

• Get parents and the community involved

• Hold a school plant sale

• Involve local gardeners and gardening clubs – they are a great source of ideas, expertise, and labor

• Develop a power point and printed materials that you can share with potential grant providers.
You might include information on:
• cost of your project
• goals and objectives
• format of your project
• materials needed
• procedures

• Enlist the help of your local PTA – these organizations often have money that they award to teachers for extra projects.
In addition, you can enlist the help of the parents and teachers involved in the organization as well.

• Enlist the help of local garden centers, businesses, and botanic gardens. Also, try local universities, colleges, and vocational schools - many of these organizations are willing to donate materials, labor, and expertise to your project.

• Check out sources on the internet. Here is a few to try:

- Kidsgardening: grants for school and children’s gardens                                                                                      

Collective School Garden Network: Grants and Fundraising

Book Spotlight

Book spotlight

The library at The Herb Society of America headquarters has some great books for children and youth that are available for members to check-out. Try out these books for a great learning experience with your children.

Morganelli, Adrianna. 2007. The biography of coffee. Crabtree Publishing Company: New York.
Reading levels: Ages 9-14
Uses: general learning, source for research and reports

Summary of contents: Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities; second only to oil. This book covers the world of coffee and its importance in our world today. Information on the cultivation and production of coffee from the field into a cup is presented. Fun facts on the coffee plantations, coffee houses, and even equipment used for making coffee are included. The role that coffee has played through the ages is also covered. This book is loaded with everything that you ever wanted to know about coffee

Rodger, Ellen. 2006. The biography of spices. Crabtree Publishing Company: New York.
Reading levels: Ages 9-14
Uses: general learning, source for research and reports

Summary of contents: Spices are used to flavor almost everything that we eat today. This book covers the fascinating spice industry and its role in our past and present. Text and colorful photos help children learn how spices were used for fragrance, to cure illness, and to flavor foods. The book presents information on where spices originated and how they are cultivated and harvested. Great historical information is also included. This book is fascinating reading for youth and adults.

Other books in the HSA library in the same series:

Gleason, Carrie. 2007. The biography of tea. Crabtree Publishing Company: New York.

Karner, Julie. 2007. The biography of vanilla. Crabtree Publishing Company: New York.

Web Thyme Resources

Plant and herb websites:

The Life Cycle of Plants -

The Great Plant Escape -

Gardening websites:

The Kid’s Garden -

The National Gardening Association -

Kidz Corner -

Garden for Kids -

Science websites:

Making Science Fun! -

Science Fair Project  -

Children’s Gardening Blogs

Green zone -

Children's Vegetable Gardening -

Kid's Gardening Big Seeds for Little Hands -

Reading Thyme

Reading Thyme

If you want to learn more about herbs try these books:

Ayers, Patricia. 2000. A kid’s guide to growing herbs. The Rosen Publishing Group: New York.

Brennan, Georgeanne, and Mimi Luebbermann. 2004. Little herb gardens. Chronicle Books LLC.:California.

Fell, Derek. 2000. Herbs. Creative Education: Minnesota.

Kite, Patricia L. 1995. Gardening wizardry for kids. Barron's Publishing: New York.

Laird, Elizabeth. 1990. Rosy's garden: a child's keepsake of flowers. Philomel Books: New York.

Taylor, J. Lee, and Jane L. 1993. The Michigan 4-H guide to herb gardening projects. Michigan State University Extension:Michigan.

Tierra, Lesley. 2000. A kid’s herb book: for children of all ages. Robert D. Reed Publishers: CA.

 If you want to learn more about seeds try these books:

Ardley, Neil. 1991. The science book of things that grow. Gulliver Books: San Diego.

Aston, Dianna, Sylvia Long. 2007. A seed is sleepy. Chronicle books LLC: San Francisco.

Dietl, Ulla. 1993. The plant-and-grow project book. Sterling Publishing Co.: New York.

Fowler, Allan. 2001. From seed to plant. Grolier Publishing Co., New York.

Gardner, Robert. 1999. Science projects about plants. Enslow Publishers, Inc.: New Jersey.

Roemer, Heidi Bee. 2006. What kind of seeds are these? Northword: Minnesota.

Saunders-Smith, Gail. 1998. Seeds. Capstone Press: Minnesota.

Worth, Bonnie. 2001. Oh say can you seed? Random House: New York.

 If you want to learn more about children’s gardening try these books:

Bales, Suzanne Frutig. 1996. Ready, Set, Grow: a guide to gardening with children. Simon and Schuster: New York.

Carlson, Laurie. 1995. Green thumbs: a kid’s guide to indoor and outdoor gardening. Chicago Review Press Inc.: Illinois.

Hardesty, Constance. 2000. Grow your own pizza: gardening plans and recipes for kids. Fulcrum Publishing: Colorado.

Starbuck, Sara, Marla Olthof, and Karen Midden. 2002. Hollyhocks and honeybees: garden projects for young children. Redleaf Press: Minnesota.