Weeds, wildflowers, wild edibles! No matter what you call them, they can be a lot of fun when it comes to searching them out in the springtime.
We kicked off our search for wild beauties last Sabbath, when we got handed a scavenger hunt paper, with spring wildflowers listed that we were to search out. A few flowers were familiar, but most required some field guides and detective work. I found that when all the kids got involved, along with Mom and Dad, we had a relaxing Sabbath walk. What made it so enjoyable was our hostess, who had previously searched everything on the list. She knew where to guide us, and if we almost stepped over a specimen, she was there to point it out. She also was a savvy wildflower sleuth, which helped a lot! It was a simple activity, but being together in nature as a family with a challenge and a purpose was what made it fun, I believe.
The other key that made this search so fun was a bit of technology for each participant. Adults produced old phones out of closets so that every child could have a camera of sorts to use! Kids love cameras, and with the freedom to snap as many pictures as they desired, they really got into finding flowers to capture. I will say that even my soon-to-be 15-year-old, who of late tends to drag his feet at family nature activities, got into the photo-taking aspect of the afternoon. What a wise woman our hostess is — you could tell she has experience with children, and indeed homeschooled her kids for much of their education.
As it goes in homeschooling families, one interest often merges into something to study into further. Once we completed the Sabbath list, we remembered that what we learned could be applied to a Pathfinder honor on flowers, since we had identified 11 species that afternoon. The next day we started seeing tiny flowers we had never noticed before, and soon our list began to swell!
I don’t know about how your kids operate, but if they are anything like mine (and I suspect most kids are kind of similar), then if you say they will earn a Pathfinder honor/Junior Ranger patch/whatever award, they forget that they are “learning,” whereas if I were to say, “Now we are going to go out and find 15 flowers to identify,” they just might be tempted to grumble. Strange, huh?
So, when we learned that, for our honor, we needed to identify 35 different species, that was a challenge! But, it was a possible one, since we already had one third of them conquered! And, I can tell you something about myself: my love language seems to be strongly based in quality family time — particularly “outdoorsy walking in the woods with my husband and kids” type of time — and this really fed my spirit.
The day was perfect, and the flowers popped out where we’d never have noticed, had we been just rambling on with no purpose! And, I thought of the fact that finding these little gems of the forest is a lot like finding the hidden treasures of the Bible. They are there, and anyone, really, can find them, but won’t if they are not searching and digging, because they are hidden. A quick glance into the woods won’t reveal that bloodroot flower that is so breathtaking, and a hasty flipping through our Bibles also won’t find for us the powerful gem that God wants to use in our times of need.
So…like I said, the next school day actually found us outside again, this time focusing on finding our list of wild eibles for that honor. The Flowers honor and the Wild Edibles honor can really overlap quite a bit, so while we were looking for flowers, we decided to see what kinds out there we could eat. How fun is that?! We had actually done our research on wild edibles through the winter months, but now that the plants are starting to grow, we found that there was a feast out there, just waiting for us to come and find it!
We ended up with such a beautiful salad — one like we have never before experience, either in taste or in eye candy! Just take a look at our lovely mixture, and you will want to go find your own edible treat too. Our favorites as far as taste were the red bud blossoms (they taste like snow peas a little) and the shoots from the daylily flower (just the tender white parts). They were delicious, and not at all flowery. Most of the others were fairly mild, but added nicely to our bed of greens. So, we pretended we were cows and munched on our clovers and dandelions! Yum!
Hands-on learning! We keep coming back to it. Sometimes it’s sprinkled in among the more ordinary school days, and that’s OK. It’s just fun to see the boys come alive and dive into a learning experience that they are enjoying. If you could just have seen two of mine climbing trees, strainers in hand, in search of those high-up blossoms that they knew were destined for their salad bowls, and then my youngest sitting out in the yard collecting tiny blue corn speedwell flowers, you’d have smiled. I know I did.
Get outside. Find a focus. Take your kids, and let them explore. Your day just might be tastier because of it!
By the way, not all flowers pictured here are edible. We included some from our wildflower walk and our wild edible walk.