NATURE POTIONS WITH TOTS
Every child starts life as a natural scientist. Making nature potions is a wonderful way to support their innate curiosity about the natural world, it is easy to set up and your tot will love it!
You will need: a jar, or see-through container, water, an outdoor space for a walk, and lots of imagination! Optional: special ingredients like turmeric, dried lavender, or chia seeds.
Caution: this can get messy, so pop your tot in some old clothes.
- Find an outdoor space where you can walk with your tot and find a variety of different natural objects such as fallen petals, leaves of different shapes, colours and sizes, dandelions, grass, clovers, mud, bark, and more.
- Prepare a see-through container or jar containing a small amount of water – for you tot’s potion. Pack it in a bag to take on your walk or leave it at home for when you return.
- Set your tot a goal of making a potion from natural objects. Tell them you are going on a hunt to find the special ingredients they need to make their potion.
- Set your tot a goal of making a potion from the natural objects they find.
- Hunt for the ingredients and collect them in a bag.
- Chat to your little one! Ask, “What are you going to put in your potion? Will it be a magic potion? Who is the potion for?” Perhaps you could make a story together.
- Once the ingredients are collected, find a quiet spot to stop and create the potion in the jar. Alternatively, you may want to head home for this part. Do whatever it takes to mix up the potion: use sticks to stir, rocks to crush, put the lid on and shake it all up. If you are at home you may want to offer spoons, a masher, a whisk, a spray or a pestle and mortar.
- When you are ready to make the potion, offer a special ingredient or two to enhance your tot’s sensory experience. Some ideas are lavender, dried turmeric, chia seeds, cornflour, vegetable oil, chalks, or even popping candy. If you add an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, then a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda you will get a fizzing potion too! Talk to your tot about their sensory experience. Ask them how their potion looks, feels, smells, and sounds.
- Your tot will probably love this activity and want to make another potion, so it may be useful to have a spare jar to hand!
Allow your tot the freedom to create their nature potion in their own way. Tinkering is important because it is a critical way to develop creativity and problem-solving skills. For tots aged 18 months to five years there is a set of repetitive behaviours that are linked to critical brain development. So just sit back, embrace the mess and observe the wonder and enthusiasm of your little scientist!