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What use is nature? Topic 2: Plant Uses

In this topic children will learn about the different uses which plants can be put to besides for food use.

Activity 2.1: Medicine


  • Pupils learn to identify plants
  • Pupils learn the Gaelic names of plants
  • Pupils learn how these plants were used in medicine
  • Be able to describe what a primary source is


  1. Factsheet 2.1 Plant Uses
  2. Factsheet 2.2 Natural medicine
  3. Worksheet 2.2 Natural medicine
  4. Mackay Country Schools Pack: how we do history?

What to do:

Factsheet 2.1 Plant uses introduces 2 distinct uses of plants – medicine and basket making. The first section of Factsheet 2.1 talks about medicine both traditional and modern. Working in groups pupils will be given Factsheet 2.2 Natural medicine which introduces the children to 9 plants which have medicinal uses. The children should read the cards and answer the questions contained in Worksheet 2.2.

Further resources:

Ask the children to work in groups to present their learning in a medium described in the Mackay Country Schools Pack: how do we do history?

Activity 2.2: Basket weaving / peat


  • Pupils learn about how peat was used in the past
  • Pupils understand the important role peat has in carbon capture
  • Pupils understand weaving techniques.


  1. The Changing Face of Peat Booklet
  2. Factsheet 2.1 Plant Uses
  3. Activity sheet 2.2 Make your own ‘creel’
  4. Factsheet 2.1 Plant Uses
  5. Paper cups
  6. Wool

What to do:

Read the Changing Face of Peat booklet and complete Worksheet 2.1 Peat. The booklet gives a practical account of how peat was cut and used. The booklet also discusses climate change and the processes which create peat.

Peatlands are important for 4 reasons:

  • They form a unique natural habitat that supports biodiversity and species at risk (plants, birds and insects)
  • They act as an important store for carbon (one third of the world’s soil carbon). Because plants do not decompose completely, the carbon held within them becomes ‘locked’ into the peat. When peat is extracted and used in gardening the stored carbon is released as CO2, a greenhouse gas, which exacerbates global warming and climate change.
  • The act as ‘archives’ offering unique historical evidence on the area and its inhabitants. Strathnaver Museum houses a ‘votive head’ and tree trunk which were found in peat bogs.
  • They play an important role in the global hydrological cycle helping maintain both water quantity and quality. They contain 10% of global freshwater resources. In the UK peatlands are though tot play an important role in flood prevention.

The Flow Country is one of the largest areas of blanket bog in the world! Together with associated areas of heath and open water it is of international importance as a habitat and for the diverse range of rare and unusual breeding birds it supports. It is so important that it has been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read the second section of Factsheet 2.1 Plant uses on creels which explains the uses woven baskets were put to. Using activity sheet 2.2, a paper cup and lengths of yarn make your own basket using the paper cups and wool.

Be sure to share your creations with us @navermuseum of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Please tag us and use the hashtag #MuseumsFromHome.

This material was developed by Mackay Country Community Trust and Strathnaver Museum and used as part of the Alan Joyce Young Environmentalist Competition 2019 funded by the Royal Society. The material made up a School Loan Box distributed to each of the 6 primary schools in north west Sutherland during 2019.