Kids intuitively love dandelions. At an age where they are closely supervised near the flower garden and shooed away from the prized petunias, dandelions are the first flowers deemed permissible for plucking. All but the most jaded adults can remember blowing on the fluffy white seed heads of dandelions as children and watching the hundred snowy parachutes scatter on the breeze. Here are some fun activities that you can enjoy with your children that takes advantage of the versatility of the cheerful little dandelion: curling dandelion stalks, braiding dandelion chains and making dandelion snacks.
Curling Dandelion Stalks
Curling dandelion stalks is a great cheap trick to wow young children. The stem of the dandelion protrudes from the base of the plant to the flower is reactive to water. if you make small incisions at the tips of either end of the stem before immersing it in water, each of the cut portions will curl up about half of the length of the stalk. This happens quite quickly and rarely fails to impress kids as the the stem winds itself up in multiple curly-cues. For school age children, you might use this activity as an experiment to demonstrate the effects of salt water on vascular plants. Vascular plants move water throughout the plant through vascular tissues that cannot handle much in the way of salt. When the salt content is too high in the water, vascular plants cannot survive, which is why there so few fresh water aquatic plants can survive at sea.
Braiding dandelions, daisies, clovers and other common flowers and plants into chains, necklaces and crowns is a wholesome activity that is about as innocent as it gets. Although there are a handful of methods of weaving together fresh plant textiles, braiding the stalks and stems together like strands of hair is probably the easiest to teach. If you’d like to add an educational element tot the fun, you can explain the folklore behind the different weeds. Dandelions, for instance, are meant to bring good luck to a newly married couple when woven into a wedding bouquet and are symbols of faithfulness, happiness and wishes coming true.
Dandelion flowers can also be a fun and tasty ingredient to use in the kitchen. Sending children out to fill a little bucket up with fresh dandelion head is usually enough to have them come back to the kitchen with a smile on their face. Dandelion flowers can be used as a colorful addition to jellos and baked goods. They can also be battered and fried for a tasty southern specialty called dandelion fritters.