The Very Best Kids Activities from 2012 Blog Hop

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I have been thinking quite a bit about what post I should include in this year’s “The Very Best Kids Activities from 2012 Blog Hop.” I tried to think about what craft or project Big B and I enjoyed doing together the most. There were many, but when I really started to think about which blog post got the most views, comments, and response from readers the choice was clear…

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A short time ago I wrote a blog post about the benefits of raising children on a farm. The post is still to the day one of my most popular posts. So many people seem to long for the “simpler” life of farm living. I am quite proud of this post and that is why I am including it in this years Best Kid’s Activities blog hop…

The Benefits of Raising Children on a Farm

Best of 2012 Blog Hop with KBN - Benefits of raising children on a farm

Check out all the other wonderful blogs involved in this blog hop!

52 Brand New ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ angeliquefelix.com – The Magic Of Play ~ At home with Ali

B-Inspired Mama ~ Blog Me Mom ~Boy Mama Teacher Mama ~ Busy Kids = Happy Mom

Carrots Are Orange ~ Caution! Twins at Play ~ Coffee Cups and Crayons ~ Confessions of a Montessori Mom

Craft To Art ~ Creative Family Fun ~ Creative Kid Snacks ~ Creative Learning Fun ~ Creative Playhouse

Creative with Kids ~ Cute and Peculiar ~ De tout et de rien: Activités pour le Préscolaire ~ Dirt And Boogers

Edventures with Kids ~ Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ The Good Long Road ~ Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails

Glittering Muffins ~ Go Kid Yourself ~ Growing A Jeweled Rose ~ hands on : as we grow ~ Here Come the Girls

Home Learning Journey ~ Housing A Forest ~ Mama Smiles ~ In Lieu of Preschool ~ Inspiration Laboratories

Inspired by Family ~ It’s A Long Story ~ JDaniel4′s Mom ~ Kids Creative Chaos ~ Kid World Citizen

Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers ~ Kitchen Counter Chronicles ~ Laughing Kids Learn ~ Learn with Play at home

Lessons Learnt Journal ~ Life At The Zoo ~ Little Artists ~ Living Life Intentionally ~ Living Montessori Now ~ Love, Play, Learn

Loving My Nest ~ Mama Pea Pod ~ mama miss ~ Mamas Like Me ~ Mess For Less ~ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas ~ Momma’s Fun World

Montessori Tidbits ~ My Buddies and I ~ My Little Bookcase ~ My Nearest and Dearest ~ No Twiddle Twaddle ~ Nurturestore

Octavia and Vicky ~ One Perfect Day ~ ourfeminist{play}school ~ Picklebums ~ Play Activities ~ Playdough to Plato

PlayDrMom ~ playful learners ~ playing with words 365 ~ PragmaticMom ~ Putti’sWorld ~ RainbowsWithinReach

Rainy Day Mum ~ Raising Playful Tots ~ Reading Confetti ~ Red Ted Art ~ Royal Baloo ~ Science Sparks ~ Scribble Doodle and Draw

Small Potatoes ~ Smiling like Sunshine ~ Sun Hats & Wellie Boots ~ Sun Scholars ~ Teach Preschool ~ The Educators’ Spin On It

The Fairy and The Frog ~ The Freckled Homeschooler ~ The Golden Gleam ~ The Imagination Tree ~ The Iowa Farmer’s Wife

The Outlaw Mom Blog ~ The Pleasantest Thing ~ This Reading Mama ~ Toddler Approved ~ Train Up a Child ~ True Aim

Two Big Two Little ~ What Do We Do All Day? ~ Connecting Family and Seoul



Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

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One of the great things about winter is all of the new seed catalogs. These colorful magazines start coming in the mail around the end December!

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

Ok, I’ll admit I don’t have much of a green thumb, but when it comes to research and planning I’m a professional. This year we are giving a garden a real try. The last time I had a real garden I was a kid. As an adult I’ve had herbs and that’s about it. I have great memories from my childhood sitting in my garden eating right off the plants. I want my children to have those same memories. I have spent the last year searching seed catalogs and researching gardening techniques, and this spring I think I am actually ready.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

Our first catalog of 2013 came in the mail Friday and Big B and I have had a blast looking through it already. Big B really loves looking through seed catalogs. He points to all of the fruits and vegetables that he wants to try and it’s hard not to allow our order to get completely out of hand in hopes that maybe he will actually try them if we grew them. He looks at the beautiful photographs and asks what each plant is and what it tastes like. We talk about the colors, shapes, flavors, and different recipes we can make with each. It’s amazing how much value one can find in a free catalog that comes in the mail.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs



Growing up on The Freckled Farm – Benefits of Raising Children on a Farm

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First… I am sorry for the lack of posts last week. We had a really terrible cold run through this house. It hit Little B and me the hardest. Of course Big B, with his immune system of steel, simply got the sniffles. When your sick, with sick kids, it pretty much takes all of your energy just to get through the day, but I did give a lot of thought to what today’s installment of “Growing up the Freckled Farm” would be, and it became very clear after the weekend that we have had… The benefits of raising children on a farm.

Benefits of raising children on a farm

My mother-in-law came into town this weekend to watch the kids while my husband and I finished the goat fencing and prepared for the goats to move in next weekend. Nothing makes you realize how different your life is in the country than to have someone from the city come and visit for a while. Things that you just take for granted as just a part of life is likely completely foreign to them.

Friday evening after dinner we were all sitting in the den settling down for the evening. I was on the couch looking through a goat supplies catalog, trying to figure out what we would need to purchase over the next year. The discussion of the farm costs came up and my mother-in-law voiced concerns about vet bills. I explained that over the next few years that we would learn to do most of the minor vet procedures ourselves, like drawing blood for tests, deworming and vaccinations. There were also a few topics that came up while looking through the catalog that obviously, and rightfully so, made my mother-in-law uncomfortable, like castration and artificial insemination. I know the necessity of these things on a farm, and they don’t really bother me, but for someone who hasn’t been exposed to it, it’s a lot to take in. Then the conversation of all the skills that “country children” learn during their childhood came up. They are exposed to such a different world and leave home with a completely different set of skills than children who grow up in the suburbs or city.

Before they are teenagers our children will know how to care for animals from infancy, through pregnancy, and into old age. They will administer minor vet procedures, and care for animals when they are sick. They will learn how diet and nutrition affects their production, and they will be responsible to help maintain a balanced diet for the animals on the farm. They will witness life coming into this world, as well as leaving. They will milk our goats, and learn to create products like cheese, butter, and soaps. They will grow their own food from seed, and have to figure out how to balance soil PH in order to ensure the best crop. They will need to figure out how to preserve crops, so we are able to benefit from them long after the season is over. They will understand problem solving, responsibility and patience in a very different way. All of these skills can be translated into life outside the farm in some way. There is so much to learn and experience and the greatest part of all of this is that my husband and I will be experiencing it right along with them.

Already our children, at 3 years old and 7 months old, have experienced something very special. Something most children have no exposure to… They have watch the building of this farm. Big B aided in the construction of the chicken coop, then watch the chickens grow from day old chicks, he watch as the barn and fencing was constructed, he visited many farms, and has already gotten to milk a goat. I see the pride and excitement in his face as he talks about our progress on the farm and it often hits me how this must look like through the eyes of a three year old, it’s huge for me, even as an adult.

I hope all of this gives my children a better appreciation for life, for the food they eat, and for hard work. I want them to leave this farm with skills. Maybe they wont choose to be farmers, or vets, but they will understand hard work and can translate many of the skills learned on the farm into life outside of the farm. The benefits of raising children on a farm are truly endless.



Growing up on the Freckled Farm

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In my tag ling I state that we are a “young rural family” but other than my post about the Educational Value of Backyard Chickens I haven’t really talked about our farm. So, I decided that it was time to start a weekly series on the things happening on The Freckled Farm and how they affect/involve our children (mostly Big B at this time) and their education.

Our Farm’s Background

I guess you are starting to wonder why everything I do is named “Freckled.” It’s not that I have an obsession with freckles themselves, although I do love them, it has more to do with our children’s names. Both Big B and Little B’s names mean “Freckled.” We wanted our farm’s name to be family related, and freckles have become our family theme.

My husband and I have always talked about having a farm. At first it was our retirement dream. We were going to move out to the country, raise a couple of dairy goats (a childhood dream of mine) and work on becoming self-sustaining. We were happy living in the city at the time, and weren’t really ready to be out in the middle of no where. After I graduated college we left Richmond, VA, and moved to Philadelphia. We wanted access to bigger cities, and had plans to renovate and flip a house. Well… we had terrible luck and many very scary experiences that year, so we sold the house (luckily before the housing market crashed) and moved back to VA. As we started to discuss having children the country seemed like the best place to raise them. We were also looking for space, peace, and privacy, so we decided to move up our farming plans.

A year after moving back to VA we found our sweet little farm, although at the time it was just a house on some property. It only had a shed and lean-to. No where to keep animals, and absolutely no fencing. It was also less property than we were hoping to get, but we quickly learned that land is expensive, and when we found the perfect house we were willing to make the compromise and make due with just 3 acres. Come to find out years later 3 acres is a lot to maintain and plenty of room for all of our plans.

Fast forward almost 5 years and here we are; 2 children, 6 chickens, a deluxe chicken coop built by my handy husband, a barn, fencing in progress and goats waiting to move in. It has been such an amazing adventure for all of us and it just continues to get better and better.

This farm will play a large role in my children’s education and I am excited to share it with all of my readers, especially over the next few weeks as we finish up our fencing and prepare for our first goats to move onto the farm!

Be sure sure subscribe to my blog (enter your email in the widget in the right hand border) so you never miss a new installment of “Growing up on The Freckled Farm” 

Images from The Freckled Farm

Tina – Moving in on November 18th:

Hillary – Moving in on November 18th:

My favorite picture from the farm. Big B supervising the chickens:

Our Chicken Coup:

Our Barn:


Creating a Mind Jar

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I have been wanting to make Big B a mind jar for a long time. It’s a great way to introduce mediation to young children and can help calm your child if they are upset and just need a timeout.

Materials:

  • Jar
  • Water
  • Glycerine
  • Soap
  • Glitter

Start by filling your jar 3/4 of the way with warm water. Fill the rest of the jar with the glycerine. The glycerine changes the density of the water and keeps the glitter from falling to the bottom too quickly. Drip a few drops of soap into the mixture. This should help keep glitter from getting stuck on the surface of the water. Close the lid and shake to mix everything up

Add glitter.

Explain to your child that when you shake up the jar the glitter represents all of the bad/upset thoughts and feelings swirling around in their head, but if they sit calmly, and just watch the glitter fall that they will begin to feel better.  Instruct your child to watch until all of the glitter has fallen to the bottom.

I have found this to be very helpful with Big B. He enjoys watches the glitter fall and is instantly calm. There have been a few times in the last few days where he started to get wound up or hyper, and I asked him to go do his mind jar. He would go happily, with no fight, and come back to the room ready to play more calmly. We have been using it for a short while and I have seen some great results.



Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices – An Activity

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I believe that it is incredibly important to start teaching children about nutrition at a very young age. That is why I have decided that it’s the perfect time to start a nutrition unit with Big B, and to kick everything off I have come up with a simple activity that helps children tell the difference between good and bad food choices.

The biggest hurdle I encountered during this activity was teaching Big B that not liking a food doesn’t make it bad for you. He kept trying to put green beans in the “bad” column because they are “yucky.”

I started out by cutting food items out of grocery store ads and magazines. I tried to focus on foods we often have around the house and that Big B would recognize. I laminated the foods so we could use them on several projects throughout our nutrition unit. Then I took a small poster board, drew a line down the center, and labeled the halves “Good” and “Bad (Should be Limited)”

When we sat down to do the activity I explained to him that the left side was for foods that were good for him, that nourished his body and helped him grow, and that the right side was for foods that were not good for you, that should only be eaten as a special treat and that would make you feel bad if you ate too much. We then spent time identifying the different foods in the pile.

Once the foods were identified he placed them in the corresponding column.

We went through each one in the pile. I would tell them how the good foods helped him grow.

Overall he seemed to pick up on the concept pretty quickly, but we will likely return to the activity a few times over the next few weeks, until the green beans and lettuce stop making their way into the bad column!



Educational Value of Backyard Chickens

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When I decided to add chickens to our farm I wasn’t thinking about their educational value. I just wanted pretty birds that ate bugs and provided eggs. It wasn’t until after the chickens were grown and had been in their coop for a while that it really hit me how the whole thing was a great educational experience for my son… It just goes to show how much you learn just living life

Educational Value of Backyard Chickens

Building the Coop

I found a picture of a coop that I liked online and asked my husband to build it for me. He and Big B spent the next few months working. I was very pregnant with Little B, so I mostly lounged around.  Big B spent hours outside “helping” his dad build the coop, which mostly consisted of him drawing on the wood and pretending to hammer, but he was there through the whole process and showed interest in each step. Every few minutes you would hear “Ok what’s next dad” and when he got an answer it was always followed up with a “Why?” He was taking it all in and would explain to me what was going on when I would come out to check on them. Months later he is still extremely proud of the work that he did with his dad. If you go within 5 feet of the coop he will tell you all about how he and his dad built it.

Chicks

Big B was not allowed to touch the chicks (see warning) but he loved watching them and observed me taking care of them. Like with everything, he was full of questions and learned a great deal about chickens in the few weeks that they lived in the brooder in the house.

Taking Care of the Chickens

Big B now helps to care for the chickens in many ways. He helps spread scratch, he collects plants (mostly dandelions) around the yard that he knows they like, and he helps “herd” them back into their coop. Since we have hawks, and hunting dogs that make their way onto our property we only let the chickens free range when we are outside. During those times he watches them and observes their behaviors. When we have guest he teaches them about his chickens. He talks about the chicken’s behaviors and eating habits, including the time he saw them catch a frog!

Benefits of Backyard Chickens for Children:

  • Taking care of pets teaches responsibility and respect for animals.
  • Watching animals grow from babies teaches about the life cycle.
  • Observing the chickens laying eggs aids in teaching children where their food comes from.
  • Being able to collect food (eggs) gives the children a sense of self-sufficiently.
  • Observing the chickens free range teaches about chickens’ behaviors and feeding habits
  • And on top of everything having backyard chickens provides your family with wonderful fresh eggs and hours and hours of entertainment.

Warning:

Many suggest that you wait until all children in the household are above the age of 5 before adding chickens to your family. I have known many families, like us, who have had chickens and young children at the same time. The issue is that chicks from hatcheries and chickens can carry diseases, like salmonella, and it is important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them. It is harder to ensure that children under 5 will keep their hands out of their mouth, nose or eyes while handling chicks and chickens. Salmonella can also have a more damaging effect on young children. Be very careful with your chicks because, even though it is extremely rare, they can pick up salmonella from the hatchery, and be sure to keep your coop clean and take measures to keep rodents and wild birds out of your chickens’ coop and feed, so they don’t catch Salmonella as adults. We don’t let Big B touch the chickens. He helps take care of them without actually coming in direct contact with them. Always keep in mind that they are wild animals and you should never be totally trusted. Keep an eye on your child at all times and practice good hygiene.