Activities from Home #4: Mixing Medicine and Media (Grades 4-5)

Greetings Museum of Health Care Friends! In light of ongoing efforts to limit the transmission of COVID-19, this activity has been modified from the original version for offsite, home or school use. (Normally, this activity is completed as part of the “Mixing Medicine & Media” education program offered at the Museum of Health Care at Kingston.)

For Educators

Learning Outcomes:

Students will apply their knowledge of the evolution of pharmaceutical medicines in health care and the function of medicinal ingredients to create their own tincture bottles in alignment with historical practices.

For Parents

This activity is a fun way for children to discover how medicines were created in the early 1900s. Children will create their own bottled tinctures or “cures” by mixing spices from home with vinegar.

Pre-Activity: Welcome to mixing class!

Have you ever wondered how people would deal with their sickness or injuries before the day and age of prescription medicine?

As it turns out, early doctors would make a medicine out of plants and ingredients that they could find in their local communities called a tincture to treat their patients’ illnesses.

Many old fashioned medicines didn’t always quite do the trick, but thanks to modern science, some of these ingredients are still used today in medications you can find in your local drug store or pharmacy!

A time traveling doctor!

Your job now is to make your own medicinal tincture using one of the ingredients listed below. After you pick an ingredient to make your tincture with, use the ingredient’s description to discover what illnesses you can cure with your tincture! Add a label to your tincture bottle with its name, ingredients and the illnesses it will cure.

The example tincture made for this activity uses Ginger and Nutmeg to cure nausea, diarrhea and pain.

Supplies Your Will Need

1) 1 Bowl

2) 1 Spoon 

3) Vinegar

4) Empty bottle or jar with a lid

5) Blank piece of paper

6) 1 Herb or spice you can find in your kitchen or from a store. Examples:

  • Ginger: helps nausea, pain, loss of appetite.
  • Chamomile: tea can help with sleep, boosting immunity, skin irritations.
  • Licorice Root: helps sore throats, fighting infections, stomach pain.
  • Mint: helps indigestion, bad breath, clearing of stuffy noses.
  • Dandelion: balances blood sugars, digestion, boosts immune system.
  • Basil: can treat insect bites and stomach spasms.
  • Coffee: increases mental alertness, increases low blood pressure.
  • Nutmeg: relieves diarrhea and nausea.
  • Cardamom: treats bad breath and prevents cavities.
  • Mustard Seed: oil created can relieve pain.
  • Cinnamon: can treat symptoms of bronchitis.
  • Oregano: can help with nail fungi.
  • Thyme: can relieve symptoms from swollen tonsils and sores in the mouth.
  • Garlic: can regulate blood sugar, help with ear infections.

Instructions: How to make a Tincture

1) Find at least 1 of the ingredients listed above to use in your tincture.

3) Gather your bowl, spoon, vinegar and your medicinal ingredient onto a flat surface or table.

4) Pour a few tablespoons of vinegar into your bowl.

5) Add a spoonful or two of your medicinal ingredients to your vinegar mixture.

6) Use your spoon to stir the mixture together.

7) Carefully pour your tincture into the empty bottle or jar and close the lid.

8) Using the list above, find each ingredient(s) you have chosen and the illnesses that each one can treat to find out what illness your ingredient can cure.

9) Cut the blank paper to fit the size of your bottle or jar and create a label that lists the name of the tincture, its ingredients and illness it is meant to cure.

10) Tape or glue your label to your bottle or jar.

Need some inspiration! Here are some historical examples!

About the Author

Meaghan McDougald

(Public Programs Assistant, Summer 2020)

Meaghan recently completed an undergraduate degree in history at Queen’s University, with plans to return to Queen’s in the fall to begin her Bachelor’s of Education! Her main areas of interest include the history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the history of psychiatric medicine. Meaghan’s experience of quarantine during the COVID19 pandemic has allowed her to expand her cooking skills, and discover the many hiking locations that Kingston and the surrounding region has to offer.

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