Monday, May 24

The Secret Garden & Starting an Herb Garden

Nature studies tend to taper off in high school, but this is a fantastic time for more in-depth learning about specialized topics!  Herb studies combine both science and life skills....

Herbs have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. General usage of the term "herb" differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs; in medicinal use, any parts of the plant might be considered as "herbs," including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark, and inner bark.

Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.

Some Common Herbs & their Uses

An adaptogenic super root, ashwagandha is used to increase vitality, relieve stress, enhance sleep, boost brain and cognitive function, and generally help the body to 'adapt' to stressors.

Astragalus comes in pill or tincture form, and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Its main use has been to boost the body's immune system.  Brew and drink a tea from the roots at onset of a cold for quicker relief.

One of the trendiest herbs for immune boosting, echinacea can be taken regularly over long periods of time.  It has been reported to reduce the odds of catching a cold by 58%, as well as to reduce the duration of the common cold.

Used for its antioxidant activity, elderberry also lowers cholesterol and boosts the immune system.  It is also used for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis.

Learn how to make Elderberry Syrup in this easy tutorial!

Best taken raw, garlic contains many sulfur compounds which detoxify the body, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation.

Learn how to make Fire Cider using raw garlic.

Goldenseal helps to boost the 'power' of other herbs, and is often paired with echinacea.  It has antifungal and anti-infective properties, which explain the healing actions of this herb.  It should not be taken for long periods of time, but should be used more intermittently.

A natural antioxidant source, Oregano Oil contains phytochemicals which support the body’s natural resistance. Gaia Herbs supercritical CO2 extract of Oregano volatile oils contains phenols, including Carvacrol and Thymol. These oils help support a healthy microbial environment in the intestines and a healthy immune response.
A rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, rosehips support the heart and cardiovascular system, enhance the integrity of the vascular system, and can be used as a daily tonic.  They are also useful in speeding the healing of bruises and wounds.

*This information is not intended to diagnose or treat ailments.  I am not a medical professional.*


  • The Secret Garden
    • When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors. The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.
  • Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs -- Thirty-three herbs to know, grow, and use!


Make / Do

  • Using a flower or seed catalog, create a chart showing at least ten different types of flowers.  Tell whether they are annual or perennial and in which conditions they thrive.
  • Make your own Windowsill Herb Garden.
  • Use this magnetic herb and spice guide as a quick-reference in the kitchen.
  • Teaching Kids About Herbs - In this year-long course, you'll learn about many herbs! Each month, your child will learn about a new herb and how to use it. Herbs are placed in seasonal positions throughout the book, but it does not have to be completed in order. Includes basic information about seasonally-appropriate herbs, project ideas, and recipes.
    • Choose one project from this book to complete as you read The Secret Garden.


  • Obsequious
  • Sallow
  • Preen
  • Languid
  • Perennial
  • Vain
  • Distended
  • Vexes
  • Reproachfully
  • Bromide
  • Austerely
  • Unscrupulous
  • Bounteous
  • Gentry
  • Hypochondriac
  • Restive


  • The children go to great lengths to keep the garden and Colin’s recovery a secret.  Tell about a time when you kept something secret from your parents because you wanted to give them a happy surprise.
  • “Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”  Do you think this is true?  Why or why not?

Looking to teach the whole system of Permaculture?  Visit Permaculture Homesteading Science...

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For more on teaching herbal skills, check out the Herbal Education Bundle!
  • Teaching Kids About Herbs – Each month, your child will learn about a new herb and how to use it. Herbs are placed in seasonal positions throughout the book, but it does not have to be completed in order.  Includes basic information about seasonally-appropriate herbs, project ideas, and recipes. (28 pages of lesson plans)
  • Simple Kitchen Fixes – Learning to use herbs effectively, for both cooking and remedy, is a lost art. This resource was designed to introduce the beginner to basic herbs and their uses. (31 pages)

For more great homesteading fun, check out the Homesteading Course at SchoolhouseTeachers!
  • This homeschool homesteading course is designed for anyone who has a desire to live more independently and prepare much of what is needed each day using their own hands. In this elective course, the student can learn how to work for what they want by making it themselves, instead of participating in an “on demand” society. Homeschool students of all ages learn patience, along with the skills needed to make their own cleaners for the home, sunscreen, homemade ketchup and dry mixes, as well as how to choose animals and prepare for emergencies, and much more.

Enjoying this unit? You might like Beautiful Book Studies!

Each unit addresses a new topic, including science, history, and geography.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the topic to life.

Table of Contents

  • The King’s Fifth
  • Red Falcons of Tremoine
  • Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
  • Red Hugh of Ireland
  • Calico Captive
  • The Story of Eli Whitney
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Lost Kingdom
  • The Secret Garden
  • Heidi
  • Girl of the Limberlost
  • The Winged Watchman
  • When the Dikes Broke
  • Using the Good & the Beautiful in High School

The books selected for these unit studies can be found in the upper grades areas of The Good and the Beautiful Book List.  However, Homeschool On the Range and Sparks Academy are not employed by or affiliated with, nor do they receive any compensation from, The Good and the Beautiful.  It has simply been their curriculum of choice for many years.  These unit studies are not endorsed by The Good and the Beautiful or Jenny Phillips.

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