Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ABCs of Homeschooling (A-H)

On 5 Kids and a Dog, there's a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  5 Kids and a Dog explains:

The word “homeschooling” can cover so many things. From teaching and learning, to home skills and life skills, and everything in between. Homeschool families are very busy people! It’s not about staying home, although we try to do that so we get our school work done, but it’s about raising well-rounded kids who grow into well-rounded adults. It means phonics lessons and sports and music and languages and climbing trees and jumping in puddles.

Since we can talk about everything from the Alphabet to Zoology, The ABC’s of Homeschooling was born. Please join in each week as we cover a new letter, and link up together to go through the ABC’s!

Since I just found out about the series, I'm grouping the first eight weeks together.  Here's what each letter of the alphabet so far looks like with our homeschool:

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter A ....is for Animals.  Having two dogs, five cats, a pony, and miniature horse provide lots of opportunities to learn about animals. The girls not only can learn about their similarities and differences, but also take responsibility for their daily needs and health care.

Meeting Gretel on Pick Up Day
Sophia and Olivia ready to take Gretel home on her adoption day. 
Gretel is about 3 months old in this picture.

We also take field trips to extend learning about animals we have as well as ones that we have read about in books.

Girls by a Clydesdale Baby and Adult
The girls by a foal and adult Clysdale horse.
The foal is taller than Olivia's miniature horse.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter B

....is for Butterflies. The girls have raised butterflies for several years now by finding monarch caterpillars in the backyard and pastures.  They feed them indoors and then watch the transformation process.  At the end, they release the butterflies. 

Girls in Awe as Monarch Flies Away
The clarity of this picture isn't great,
but the expressions on the girls' faces show the
amazement and awe they felt when they saw the butterfly
fly right in front of them.

In the fall, the girls spread milkweed seeds throughout the farm so the monarchs that return in the spring and summer have food to eat.
Floating Milkweed
Sophia spreading milkweed seeds in the south pasture.
The wind is carrying the seeds off to new locations.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter C .... is for China.  Both the girls were born in China.  Sophia was adopted at 11 months old, and Olivia was adopted at 10 months old.  Their birthdays and adoption days are celebrated by integrating Chinese customs, food, and gifts into these special days.

Girls Looking at Chinese Items
Sophia showing some of the items she has
that are from China to other homeschoolers.

This past year, we celebrated Chinese New Year by making Nian-Gao - Chinese New Year Cake. The recipe was in the back of the book The Runaway Rice Cake which I read to the girls prior to the cake-making activity.

Pouring Oil in Bowl
The girls making Nian-Gao for
Chinese New Year.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter D ... is for Dance. Each of the girls took dance lessons through the Minnesota Dance Theater when they were younger.  Although this isn't something that they've chosen to pursue, they enjoyed dancing at the time. 

Homeschooling gives the girls an opportunity to be exposed to a variety of different subjects which they can choose to learn about in depth...or simply be content with learning a bit about the subject/activity and moving on to learn something else.

Sophia during the performance
Sophia at the dance recital at Minnesota Dance Theater
at the end of a dance camp.

Olivia Spinning in Costume
The girls enjoy dancing to music at home.
Olivia often will dance to piano music that Sophia or I play.

Lion Dance with 2 Lions
The girls watched a Chinese Lion Dance
at a summer festival. 
It was the highlight of the day for them.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter E ...is for Experiments.  The girls both enjoy science, particularly when there is an experiment or hands-on activity that relates to the subject they are learning. 

Olivia Learning About Vocal Cords
Olivia learning about vocal cords.

Sophia learning about volcanoes.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter F

...is for Field Trips. An important part of homeschooling is being away from home and learning at different locations throughout the local area or even short day/multi-day trips. 

The girls both enjoy seeing and interacting with animals.  One summer, the Minnesota Zoo had a special African animal exhibit.  There was an opportunity to feed the giraffes.  It is a memory that is vividly etched in both girls' memories.

Olivia Feeding Giraffe
Olivia feeding a giraffe.

We also regularly attend the Minnesota Orchestra's student performances that are held throughout the school year. 

Girls at the Minnesota Orchestra
Sophia and Olivia at the Minnesota Orchestra.

We have been able to take some multi-day trips during the past few years thanks to my parents.  In exchange for driving them (since both no longer can drive), they have given the girls and I an opportunity to travel to places that have provided wonderful learning experiences.

Girls by Tulips
The girls by hundreds of tulips in Pella, Iowa.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter G ...is for Geography.  For several years, the girls have been doing an ABC journey around the world.  I picked a different country for them to learn about for each letter of the alphabet (with the exception of "X" which no country begins with...they learned about MeXico instead). 

Sophia in Kimono with Outstretched Arms
Sophia showing the back of a kimono.
The girls studying about Japan and enjoyed learning about the country.
The kimono is from my friend, Yoshiko, who lives in Osaka.

When we studied about Sweden, there were many local opportunities and historical sites which related to Swedish immigration and pioneers.  We used the Kirsten books (of the American Girl series) as a literature base, and supplementing it with hands-on activities in many different areas.

Olivia with Swedish Braided Bread She Made
Olivia learned to make braided bread;
and, in the process, learned how to braid.
She was proud how her bread turned out.

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter H ... is for History. The curriculum I have been using for the past few years (Sonlight) has a wonderful history focus.  The "living books" (versus textbooks) that relate to history make the subject come alive, and have much more of a lasting impact on the girls. 

To supplement what we read, we also take field trips to museums and living history organizations. 

Obstacle Course at Fort Snelling
The girls pretending they are soldiers during WWII.
They are at a Homeschool Day event at  Fort Snelling.

The girls enjoy cooking, so sometimes history and cooking/home economics can be connected.

Making Homemade Peanut Butter
The girls making peanut butter after
learning about George Washington Carver.

Sophia with Fossil Sandwich
Sophia making a "fossil" sandwich
when she was learning about fossils.

We have read the entire American Girl series now which helped the girls learn about American history from the 1700s to 1970s.  After completing that series, we moved onto the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Olivia took a class at the homeschool co-op that focused on the Little House series.  She was able to do her first play during the class.  Her role was "Christy Kennedy" in "On the Banks of Plum Creek" (a Laura Ingalls Wilder story).

The costume she's wearing was made by a seamstress who I hired many years ago when I did a farm/art camp for kids. The seamstress created costumes for kids to wear that represented a variety of times in history (from the mid-1800s to 1970s).

Olivia Listening in Play
Olivia in her first play based on the book
"On the Banks of Plum Creek."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks ---- Week 22 ----- Tree Spirited Woman

For the 22nd week of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I picked Tree Spirited Woman by Colleen Baldrica.  This book is only 91 pages, so it falls nine pages short of the 100-page minimum. 

However, earlier in the week, I began to read The Lace Makers of Glenmara after reading a positive review at the library.  I started reading the book, and it seemed interesting.  Put it down for a bit, did some things around the house, and then picked it up again after putting the girls to bed.  Read a few more pages and it didn't quite get my attention. I found my mind wandering....thinking...unfocused. 

Skipped ahead to page 100 and thought I'd start there.  Maybe it had improved by this time.  As I was reading it, I fell asleep.  Apparently it just wasn't a book I could get into.  That...or I was tired. 

Rather than try to finish a book that didn't hold my interest, I began reading Tree Spirited Woman. Since it was such a short book, I finished it in one sitting.  Basically, the main character's grandmother dies.  As she is cleaning her grandmother's room after her death, she comes upon a locked box that has a journal inside.  The first two pages have a lovely and inspirational letter written by the grandmother to her.  The rest of the journal is left blank for her to fill when she is ready. 

The book focuses on the main character's visits with a wise and mystical woman whom she meets in the woods.  Each month, on a specified date, the two meet.  The woman shares with the main character her life lessons about the value of letting go, trusting in love, valuing person relationships, and accepting the inevitable phenomena of death.

Some parts of the book that I liked in particular include: 

There are many gifts one may receive, but none so great as the gift of being heard.

The gift of listening does not cost money, but it will be greatly treasured by all who receive it.

There are many different relationships one will have in a lifetime...It is important to know each relationship is meant to be.  It is often with strangers that we learn the most of who we are.  How one treats a stranger tells much about oneself.  Are you kind to the salesperson or to the poor who live on the street?  One's actions speak loudly.

Each person is put into one's life for a purpose.  We are to learn from one another.  Every person has needs, and those needs are met by the many different relationships one has.

Children are the window to the future and the mirror to the past.  A child allows on to see from where one has come and to dream about where one may go.  Sometimes, as we age, it takes a child to help us remember our youth.

Many of my days have been filled with happiness, and many of the days filled with sorrow.  I am pleased I have had many life experiences and would choose to give up none, for I have become the person I am because of all those life experiences and lessons.

When someone dies, they are physically gone.  Still, a part of them lives on through all the lives they have touched. 

The second to the last chapter of the book focuses on joy.  I particularly liked this passage about trees and what we can learn from them:

Look at those leaves; they are already starting to change color.  They have lived a full cycle.  In the spring, they sprouted new buds and grew new leaves and branches.  They were trusting and growing.  It was a time of new beginnings, much like each new day.

The weather warmed; summer came.  The leaves turned a rich green, blew in the wind, trusted all would be well in the life journey.

Autumn is now approaching.  It is time for jubilation.  The trees shout out for joy using bright colors, declaring the life journey is almost done.  It is a sign they have lived and are not afraid of dying. 

The tree lets go of the leaves a little at a time until the tree becomes barren.  Then it is time for the tree to rest and rejuvenate until the next beginning. 

The author, Colleen Moran Baldrica is an official Chippewa (Ojibwe) Tribe member of the Pembina Band, from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.  Ms. Baldrica ends the book with two pages of discussion/reflection questions as well as her hope that in each reader's life, that s/he finds and experiences "joy each day that will be your gift to others."

Kids Clothes Week Challenge --------- Days 6 and 7

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Kids Clothes Week Challenge (KCWC). The goal for KCWC was to work just one hour per day (or more, if you have the time) and see what you could create.

During Days 1-5, I did the prep work for two items - a skirt for Sophia and kuspuk for Olivia.  By the end of Day 5, I finished a skirt for Sophia

On Days 6 and 7, I concentrated on finishing the kuspuk for Olivia. What is a kuspuk...you may be wondering?  A kuspuk is a Native Alaskan outfit that is like a dress with a hood and pocket that can be worn on its own or over clothes/jacket. 

Olivia in the kuspuk I sewed for her.

On Day 6, I sewed the bodice together; gathered the sleeves and made the cuffs; gathered the skirt and attached it to the bodice; sewed the pocket (it's lined with matching fabric); and sewed the hood. 

In sewing the hood and trying it on Olivia (without attaching it to the bodice), the girls and I both agreed that Olivia looked like a gnome with it on.  The pattern makes the hood rather pointy and gnome-like.  That's okay if you're going for a costume.  However, when making an outfit that I want her to wear, I knew that attaching the gnome-hood would ensure that the kuspuk would never worn.

So, I opted to attach the zipper and finish the top of the bodice.  The fabric for the hood will be used for something else - doll clothes...a quilt...something small.

Olivia and her sister use the apple tree that fell down
in the November ice storm as a balance beam
and lateral climbing tree.

On Day 7 (which actually ended up being earlier this week since I had to drive 40+ miles to find a zipper that was the right length and color), I added the zipper, pocket, and finished the top of the bodice. 

The sleeves and skirt are a bit long since it's a size 10 and Olivia has just started wearing size 6 and 8 (depending what the item is - pants run smaller while dresses and shirts she can wear in a larger size).  She likes longer skirts, so she prefers the length (rather than having the skirt be at knee-length).

She says the dress is comfortable, and that she would wear it as a dress with capri leggings on under it (or without leggings...depending on how warm it is outside.

Olivia wearing capri leggings
under the kuspuk.  Kuspuks are meant to be worn
as a dress over another outfit
(as a way to keep it clean and dry).

I'm so happy I did KCWC because it challenged me to make two new items of clothing that I had never made before, and to use a pattern that I had been holding onto for years, but had not gotten around to using.

52 Weeks of Giving - Week 21 - Donate Clothes to Children in Africa

Sophia and Olivia watched a DVD about a remote village in Sierra Leone, Africa, that was greatly affected by the civil war there.

(The Sierra Leone Civil War began on 23 March 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), intervened in Sierra Leone in an attempt to overthrow the Momoh government, sparking a gruesome 11-year civil war that enveloped the country and left over 50,000 dead.)

The people who are still there live in extreme poverty with no running water or bathrooms.  Many of the key buildings - like the school and community center - remain damaged.  Homes provide shelter from the sun, but are sparse and challenging in terms of comfort and security.

We became aware of this village because one of the people who grew up there married a family friend.  Instead of asking for wedding gifts, they asked for gifts to the village where the husband grew up and where they regularly send containers of clothing and other necessities. 

The girls went through their clothes after watching the video, and they selected some items that they thought would be most appropriate for the hot climate there. 

Grouping clothes by type (e.g., shirts, dresses, shorts).

They sent t-shirts, shorts, dresses, and some very light sweaters (just in case it got a bit chilly ever or someone wasn't feeling well and they needed to stay a little warmer).

Items Donated:
Skirts - 4
Shirts - 16
Socks - 1 pair
Shorts - 2
Dresses - 3
Sweaters - 2

Folding the clothes and putting them in a box to ship.

For the clothes that they wanted to donate, but were too warm for the African climate, we set aside and then donated them to Goodwill.

Goodwill has 165 independent, community-based organizations in the United States and Canada that offer customized job training, employment placement, and other services to people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.

After watching the video, Sophia wanted to know if it was possible to go over and help.  Traveling overseas to volunteer would be more appropriate when the girls are older, and that would be something that would be wonderful to do.

There have been several times during the past few months that she has asked if she could travel somewhere and help. She first expressed interest in helping the Blackfeet people of Montana after reading about them in one of her books through the Sonlight curriculum this year that focused quite a bit on Native Americans.  We found an organization, Global Volunteers, that hosts volunteer trips to Montana to help the Blackfeet people; and would like to go there at some point.

So, after 21 weeks of doing the 52 Weeks of Giving project, the girls are actively seeking out and thinking of ways that they can help.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

This past Sunday, there was a tornado that went through an area about 40 minutes from here.  This same tornado made its way northeast and touched down less than 10 minutes from here. 

Funnel cloud about ten minutes from home.
Photo from MnDOT.

None of the warning sirens went off locally until the tornado touched down and had passed further north.  Had it not been for my sister who has a weather radio, we would not have been aware of the tornado - it was a clear, sunny day at that point. 

It made me realize the importance of having a weather radio.  This article from Minneapolis Public Radio talks about the siren failure and how important it is to have a weather radio - just like it is to have smoke detectors.  Both are of equal importance.  This will be something on my list to purchase in June.

Despite seeing a tornado from one of the upstairs windows, the speed at which we were able to get downstairs and outside (we have an old cellar door that we have to go through to get to the basement - kind of like in the Wizard of Oz), was rather embarrassing.  Most likely, we would be trapped, injured, or dead if the tornado continued on its path and we were inside the house.

Clouds a bit northwest of here
after the tornado passed through.

Nearly 3/4 of all tornadoes in Minnesota occur during the months of May (15%), June (37%), and July (25%).  This article has some interesting information about tornadoes in Minnesota, including some memorable ones (like the 2008 one that also was very close to here and damaged many homes).

Sophia and Olivia putting together "Go-Bags."

So, making "Go-Bags" or bags that are already packed and ready to take for use in an emegency (like a tornado), became top priority this week. This past week, my daughters and I created "Go-Bags" or bags that can be used in an emergency.  We put into each backpack or bag so far:

- flashlight with batteries
- whistle
- pocket knife (adult only; not for child)
- change of clothes (top, pants, underwear, socks)
- notepad
- pen and pencil
- tape (masking and duct) - (adult only; not for child)
- medication
- small first aid kit (adult has full kit; each person has bandaids)
- small sewing kit (adult only)
- small books and games
- hand towel
- spoons, forks, and knives (two sets)
- paper plates (6 small)
- two heavy-duty trash bags
- one kitchen-size trash bag
- water purification tablets
- comb
- lip balm
- soap
- washcloth
- shampoo and conditioner
- toilet paper

We still need to put into each bag:
- small package of wet wipes
- toothpaste
- toothbrushes
- dust masks
- rain gear
- water bottles
- snack food
- hard candy and gum
- map
- permanenet markers
- photos of family members
- emergency contact numbers and names
- identification
- list of allergies
- copy of health insurance card
- extra keys (house and car)
- mylar blanket
- sunscreen
- sanitary supplies
- hand warmers (for cold weather)
- matches and/or butane lighter
- cash
- cell phone
- spare eyeglasses
- insect repellent (for warm weather)
- spare shoelaces

The list I was going off of also recommended some other items in the event of an evacuation, but these wouldn't be kept in a backpack:

- tent
- sleeping bags
- radio (hand-cranked or battery-operated with batteries)
- water jugs (for water purification)

In the process of putting together the "Go-Bags," the girls and I cleaned the medicine cabinet and grouped items together (e.g., first aid items, soap, shampoo).  I gathered all the expired prescription medications together and will find a place to recycle them this week.  Also threw away all over-the-counter medicine that was no longer good. 

Medicine cabinet after getting rid of expired medications.
Now I can supplement it with necessary items
to create a good first aid kit and have needed items on hand.

Having these items organized will make the next things we work on much easier (e.g., first aid kits).  It also is easier to see now what we have on hand and what is needed for minor and serious injuries or emergencies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dandelions - Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Series #4

This week - during the break between the thunderstorms, heavy rain, and hail plus a tornado less than 10 minutes from here - we were able to do the Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Series #4: Wildflowers-Dandelions.

Throughout this post, three different typefaces are used:
- Bold - are words from the Handbook of Nature Study website.
- Italics - are words from the book titled Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
- Regular - are my own words.

Before heading outside, I read pages 531-535 in the Handbook of Nature Study about dandelions.  In this way, I could point out different things about dandelions as the girls were looking at them.

Here are some facts from the book that I found interesting:

- The taproot, which lacked only an inch of being a foot in length.  It was smooth, whitish, and fleshy, and, when cut, bled a milky juice; it was as strong from the endpull as a whipcord; it also had a bunch of rather fine rootlets about an inch below the surface of the soil.

- Dandelion leaves [have] edges [that] are notched in a peculiar way, so that the lobes were, by some one, supposed to look like lions' teeth in profile; thus the plant was called in France "dents-de-lion" (teeth of the lion), and we have made from this the name dandelion.

Dandelion leaves...or
 as the plant was known in France:
"Dents-de-lion" (teeth of the lion)

- The leaves are bitter, and grazing animals do not like to eat them.

- The hollow stalk...may be made into a trombone [by children].  [This is a good] lesson in the physics of sound, since by varying the length the pitch is varied.

- If the plant is in the lawn, the stem is short....It will blossom and seed within two inches of the ground; but if the plant is in a meadow or in other high grass, the stalk lifts up sometimes two feet or more. 

Dandelion stems can grow to be up to two feet tall.
This one was over one foot tall.

- Before a dandelion head opens, the stem, unless very short, is likely to bend down, but the night before it is to bloom it straightens up; after the blossoms have matured it may again bend over, but straightens up when the seeds are to be cast off.

- It often requires an hour for a dandelion head to open in the morning and it rarely stays open longer than five or six hours; it may require another hour to close.

Unopened dandelion in the morning.
The involucral bracts can easily be seen covering the flowers as well as
near the stem where they make a frill.

- The involucral bracts, in the row set next to the flowers, are sufficiently long to cover the unopened flowers; the bracts near the stem are shorter and curl back, making a frill. 

- In the freshly opened flower-head, the buds at the middle all curve slightly toward the center, each bud showing a blunt, five-lobed tip which looks like the tips of five fingers held tightly together.

Dandelion in the process of opening.

- All the flowers in the dandelion head have banners, but those at the center...have shorter and darker yellow corollas.

Fully-opened dandelion.

- On dark, rainy days and during the night the little green house puts up its shutters around the flower family.

- [Dandelions] awaken long after the sun is up in the morning; they often do not open until eight o'clock.

- After all the florets of a dandelion head have blossomed, they may stay in retirement for several days, and during this period the flowerstalk often grows industriously; and when the shutters of the little green house are again let down, what a different appearance has the dandelion head!  The akenes with their balloons are set so as to make an exquisite, filmy globe.

Dandelion akenes make a silver globe.

- The balloon is attached to the top of the beak as an umbrella frame is attached to the handle, except that the "ribs" are many and fluffy.

Four akenes on my shoe.

- This blossom-bald head after all the akenes are gone...is like a mosaic, with a pit at the center of each figure where the akene was attached.

Dandelion head minus the akenes. 
Notice the mosaic pattern.

- Before the akenes are fully out this soon-to-be-bald head is concave at the center; later it becomes convex, and the mechanism of this movement liberates the akenes which are embedded in it.

Akenes ready to fly off.

- Each freshly opened corolla-tube is full to overflowing with nectar, and much pollen is developed; therefore the dandelion has many kinds of insect visitors.

- The following are the tactics by which the dandelion conquers us and takes possession of our lands:
~~> It blossoms early in the spring and until snow falls, producing seed for a long time
~~> It...fourishes on all sorts of soils.
~~> It thrusts its long taproots down into the soil, and thus gets moisture and food not reached by other plants.
~~> Its leaves spread out from thebase, and crowd and shade many neighboring plants out of existence.
~~> It develops almost numberless akenes, and the wind scatters them far and wide and they thus take possession of new territory.
~~> Many insects visit it, and so it has plenty of pollen carriers to insure strong seeds.

Hand covered in pollen from picking dandelions.

Outdoor Hour Time:

Spend 15 minutes outdoors this week in your own backyard or a near-by park. As you walk along, keep your eyes out for dandelions.

Suggestions for Observations

See if you can find several dandelions in various stages of growth.

This was easy to do since we have so many dandelions growing in the yard.  During the mid-day we observed various stages of growth.  In the late-afternoon, we could see the dandelions in various stages of opening-to-closing.

Dandelions in various stages of growth.

Look at the leaves and collect a few for sketching later in your nature journal.

We will be doing an entry in our nature journals this week.

If it is growing in your own yard, you might like to dig up the complete dandelion plant and observe the roots.

Didn't have a chance to do this, but will do at a later date.

Measure the height of several different dandelion plants and compare them.

This was something that the girls enjoyed.  Their idea was to do a race to find the longest stem. 

Running to get dandelions and
bring them back to measure.

For the first round, Olivia found one with a 6" stem and Sophia's was 5 1/2".  The second round, Sophia found one with an 11 1/2" stem and Olivia found one with a 10" stem. 

Olivia measuring a dandelion stem with
Montague standing behind her.

As noted above, dandelions can grow to be over two feet tall.  The girls wanted to see how tall this would be, so they put two rulers together. 

Imagine a dandelion growing this tall! 
Some of them do in meadows or where there is high grass.

Examine an unopened dandelion flower.

Sophia opening an unopened dandelion.

Watch a bee working in a dandelion.

We did not see any bees visiting the dandelions while we were outside.

Observe the seeds and how they are dispersed.

See pictures at the top of the post for the akenes on the dandelion as well as stuck to my shoe.  The girls both could see how they resembled umbrellas.  They also are similar to spiderlings in that they use the wind to find a new location in which to grow.

Observe your dandelions on a sunny day and then on a cloudy day. Note any differences.
We will do this over the weekend since another round of storms are forecasted to arrive on Friday.

Follow-Up Activities:

Take some time to draw the dandelion in your nature journal. Make sure to record your observations of the dandelion and make a sketch of the leaf and flower.

We ran out of time the afternoon when we did the study, so the girls still will need to do a journal page.


Other activities that we did:

We made Dandelion Flower Cookies.  The recipe is from The Splendid Table (on National Public Radio).  Note: Before making the cookies, read Dr. Peter Gail's instructions for cooking with dandelion flowers (below the recipe).

The cookies are moist and taste have a pleasant, though not strong flavor.  The strongest flavor came from the vanilla, not from the dandelions.  The tiny yellow petals make the cookies pretty and unusual...certainly something that children will remember...hopefully in a good way.

Dandelion Flower Cookies
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup dandelion flowers

Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend oil and honey and beat in the two eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, oatmeal and dandelion flowers. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Cooking with Dandelion Flowers
by Peter A. Gail, Ph.D

Dandelion flowers aren't just pretty. They are also extremely nutritious food and have none of the bitterness of dandelion leaves if you cut off the green bracts at the base of the flower cluster.

To Prepare Dandelion Flowers for Use in Recipes:
  • Wash them thoroughly.
  • Measure the required quantity of intact flowers into a measuring cup.
  • Hold flowers by the tip with the fingers of one hand and pinch the green flower base very hard with the other, releasing the yellow florets from their attachment. Shake the yellow flowers into a bowl. Flowers are now ready to be incorporated into recipes.
Dandelion Cookies.


I found a few more uses for dandelions which we started to work on:  dandelion vinegar and dandelion-infused oil (which also can be made into a salve).

The first step for both the vinegar and oil/salve is to collect the blossoms.  Make sure they are from an area that isn't sprayed with chemicals.  These dandelions came from our yard which is not sprayed.

Sophia collecting dandelion blossoms.

Fill a quart jar with blossoms. 

Olivia filling a jar with dandelion blossoms.

For the dandelion vinegar, cover with apple cider vinegar and then put a cover on the jar. 

Sophia pouring apple cider vinegar over
dandelion blossoms.

Place in a sunny location to steep.  Shake well every day.  After two weeks, strain with a cheesecloth.  The dandelion vinegar should be stored in the refrigerator and used on salads.

For the dandelion-infused oil, pour oil (olive, almond, or canola) over the blossoms until they are fully covered. Poke around with a wooden spoon handle to make sure there are no air bubbles.  Cover with a coffee filter held on by a rubber band (or a lid if you're concerned about the jar being tipped over for some reason).

Olivia pouring oil over dandelion blossoms.

Place in a sunny location to steep for two weeks.  Stir the mixture once a day.

Dandelion vinegar (left) and dandelion-infused oil (right)
steeping in the sun.

After one week, strain the mixture, throw out the brown dandelions, and add fresh ones.  Cover with the coffee filter/lid and return to a sunny location for another week of steeping.  After two weeks, strain using a cheesecloth. 

We haven't gotten this far yet, but to make the dandelion salve, make the dandelion-infused oil first.  Then add grated beeswax to the oil and melt it.  Add enough to reach your desired consistency.  To test the consistency, drip a drop of the mixture onto a plate.  It will cool immediately and you can see if it is thick enough. 

Dandelions have pain-relieving properties, so the oil and salve can be used for sore muscles or arthritis.  Just apply to the affected area.  It can also be used to relieve sinus headaches by rubbing a little on your forehead.  The salve and oil can be used for dry skin as well. 

As soon as the dandelion vinegar, oil, and salve are done, I'll post pictures.


There are two more recipes that we want to make, but didn't have enough time today:  dandelion jelly and dandelion fritters.  We'll be making these items this week since there seems to be no shortage of dandelions in the yard.


The last thing we did as part of today's study on dandelions was focused on storytelling and poetry.  I read to the girls the story about how you can't pick a dandelion. It's a lovely story and gives a very different view of what a dandelion is...as is anything in nature.

Then I read a poem about dandelions that came from a Waldorf website:


O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?
“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”

O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?
“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”

And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?
“They take me in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away!”