I’ve always felt a bit sorry for dandelions. They’re a very pretty colour but nobody ever wants them in their garden (me neither). You can’t avoid them though. They get everywhere. Instead of just seeing them as a nuisance weed, make them work for you – as a learning aid for young children. I’ve jotted down a few ideas to get the best out of them. You don’t need a garden for this – every roadside verge is full of dandelions this month.
Jewellery – dandelions make far better bling than daisies. They’re bigger, easier for small children to handle and you need far fewer to get a decent necklace…or bracelet…or crown.
Weed Maths – how many do you need? Do you have enough? Do you need more? Fewer? Are they bigger? Smaller? These are all extremely important maths words and concepts. Most children get the idea of “more” from a young age. They nearly all struggle with the idea of fewer.
Colouring-In – white paper and some dandelions. Use them as crayons. Rub the flowerhead on the paper and you’ll get lovely yellow smudges. Here comes the science word – investigate other flowers. Are the results the same/better/different?
Collage – dandelion heads make fabulous princess dresses or lion’s manes or great abstract pieces of art. Don’t take my word for it. Andy Goldsworthy does fabulous natural art using dandelions (see below)
Dandelion Clock – we’ve all done it, judging the “o’clock” by the number of breaths it takes to blow away the seed head. Telling the time is hard. Before your child starts learning to use a clock, this will familiarise them with the vocabulary of time.
Ropes & Swings – elves and fairies need playthings too. Make a dandelion chain, drape it over a tree branch and you’ve given them a rope swing; two parallel chains swung over the branch only needs a twig fastening them together to make a proper sit-down bespoke fairy swing. The amount of imaginative language this will generate will be fabulous.
And if you do nothing else…roll in them. You’ll learn about colour, smell, pollen and you’ll laugh…together. Don’t try it with nettles though ;-)