Identifying Basil and other plants or herbs

Many of the young people I work with have low self-images and many have a huge failure rate, so I devised a strategy to teach and to give those young people a feeling of success.

This project enabled young people to gain a good understanding of the herb Basil and actually pass some tests along the way. It was designed to give an immediate sense of achievement.


I prepared 3 A4 sheets each with four photos on. The first sheet was titled identify the Herb Basil. I had one picture of Basil, and then the three other photos were of a plane, a car and a building. This might seem simplistic but the young people answered with gusto especially since I had scared them by saying if they did not pass the test they would get kicked off the course!

The second sheet asked the same question, identify the Basil. They had the first sheet to refer back to. The three other pictures were of a Rose, Dandelion and Daisy.

The third and final sheet had the same question, identify the basil. The other three photos this time were of Thyme, Mint and Lavender.

On each occasions none of the lads faltered and were able to answer with confidence. The final test was to then pick up a Basil plant from around 50 plants all grouped together. Every single person was able to pick up a Basil. In less then 5 minutes, the young people knew what a Basil plant was.

The next part was to spend a day explaining cultivation, use and benefits of the herb Basil. I also included additional snippets about herbs and their role within our lives.

An herb can be a leaf, a flower, a stem, a seed, a root, a fruit, a bark, or any other part of a plant. Interestingly enough, I started by explaining that the primary use of herbs in 80% of the world’s population is as medicine.

Herbs are a natural plant and alongside the medicinal approach also bring nutritional value.

Basil brings particular benefit to our white blood cells. It is related to the peppermint plant and has highly fragrant leaves. They are used as a seasoning for food but have become very popular and the main ingredient in pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

I enjoyed this simple day and we got to cook and make pesto over an open fire.