Preparing for Big B’s First Dental Cleaning

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Big B turned 3 a few months ago and I have been meaning to take him to his first dental cleaning. He has been to the dentist for a check up before, but at that appointment they simply looked at his teeth. Big B is generally well behaved at doctors appointments. He does what his doctor asks, has no trouble answering her questions, and never puts up a fight when it comes time for shots. The difference is that he is very familiar with his doctor and nurse. He has never been to this dentist, and has never had a teeth cleaning, so in order to help this appointment go smoothly I devoted some time to explain what was going to happen and to teach him about dental health.

Preparing for Dental Visit and Learning About Dental Health

The week leading up to his appointment Big B and I talked a great deal about dental health. I allowed him to brush my teeth and well as his sister’s, so he could get a better look at what he was doing. I even finally got around to doing a great dental health activity from Sense of Wonder that I ran across a while ago and have been meaning to do (there are other dental health activities on her post that I didn’t do, so you should check it out).

For this activity I created a mouth using a piece of cardboard and an egg carton. I took the bottoms off the egg holders and glued them in the shape of a mouth on the cardboard. I painted the teeth white and the tongue area pink. I then stuffed the spaces between the teeth with green tissue paper.

I talked to Big B about how the green tissue paper represented the nasty germs that get stuck between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach, and that you need to use floss to get rid of them. It was also good that the egg carton I used had crevices throughout them so I could explain how our teeth have lots of peaks and valleys and that you have to be very careful when you brush to make sure that you got them all. You could use the same mouth, dirty the teeth and teach your child how to clean them properly and throughly.

Preparing for Dental Visit and Learning About Dental Health

Preparing for Dental Visit and Learning About Dental Health

A day after I introduced this activity to Big B I found him in the dinning room/classroom doing it on his own. I asked him what he was doing and he said “getting the germs out of my teeth”

Preparing for Dental Visit and Learning About Dental Health

Big B did a great job at his appointment yesterday. I held his hand while the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth. I was so proud of him. I think the time we spent going over the the procedures helped him the most. He was confident going in, and there weren’t any surprises.

If you are interested in reading more about first dental appointments and how the parents prepared their children check out these links:



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.



Our Field Trip to Vote!!

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Every year I take Big B to vote with me.

Big B was one month old when he took his first field trip to the polling place and it has become a tradition that we do every year. I want him to grow up knowing the importance of voting… even in the smaller elections, as they affect you in a more direct way.

Last night Little B started to come down with something. She went to bed with a 101.8 fever, and I woke up at some point during the evening suffering from the same sickness. Luckily my husband was able to stay home with us today, otherwise it would have been a rough day. Sick or not I was going to make it to my polling place (my apologies to the polling place people for spreading my germs). We went as a family, but took turns going in so Little B could stay in the car. Big B and I went in together. While waiting in our short line (the benefit of living in the middle of no where) we talked about how important it is to vote. I voted with him on my hip so he could see what was going on and he was given a sticker on our way out. I hope each year that we do this that he understands more and more the importance of voting.

I don’t care who you vote for… just vote! 


Cooking With Your Kids: Pumpkin Bread

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This week Big B and I tried this Pumpkin Bread recipe from Simply Recipes. It involved a little more help from me than some of our past recipes but Big B was extremely excited about the outcome.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (although I skipped this stepped)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water and spices together.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. This is where you would add the nuts… I am hoping to serve this at our next co-op meet up and we have allergies within the group

 Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until skewer comes out clean when poked into the loaf.

Big B loves it and I have to say that I am really loving doing this series!!

Few things say fall to me more than pumpkin recipes. This pumpkin bread recipe really kicked our fall season off right!



Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt

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I love coming up with activities that we can do on our afternoon walks, and if it includes photography, even better! My son loves taking pictures, it might have something to do with having a photographer for a mother, so I created this fall photo scavenger hunt

Objectives: Reinforce colors, and identify fall characteristics.

Materials:

  • I created this document for our photo scavenger hunt. It identifies what objects the child needs to find on their scavenger hunt, and has boxes that they get to check off when the photo has been taken: Fall Photo
  • This is the camera Big B uses, but if you feel comfortable you can just allow your child to use your point and shoot. I highly recommend the Kid Tough Camera. These are two of the models. Ours is the first one. It has less features than the second, but we find it works just fine for us. (Clicking on the images will take you to the cameras on Amazon):

Directions:

I gave Big B the piece of paper, and read through it with him. I explained that he had to find the items on the list, photograph them, then he could check them item off the list when he was done. He responded with a “Lets DO this!”

Big B’s Pictures

Yellow Leaf: 

Brown Acorn:

Red Leaf:

A Colorful Fall Tree:

Leaves on the Ground:

 

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Learning Patterns with Mega Blocks

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I recently ran across this blog post about repeating patterns. Patterns are one of the units in my preschool/pre-kindergarten math curriculum, so I decided to do this lesson with Big B. It was a huge success, and he has asked to play the “blocks game” over and over. It a great way for preschoolers to learn patterns.

Materials:

I started by making an ABAB pattern with red and green blocks. I handed it to Big B along with the blocks necessary for him to make the pattern himself. At first I had to walk him through it, but he picked up on the concept very quickly… I have to add that this child is a puzzle master! So that might have played a role in how quickly he learned the process.


We did a few more patterns, then took a break. When we came back I did not give him the pieces he needed to make the patterns, he had to pick them out of a large pile of blocks. Even with this added obstacle he was able to easily make the patterns I gave him. This simple activity really helped him understand pattern. After he finished copying my pattern he would say “next would come …” He understood that the pattern could continue and knew what would come next. This is a great activity with a product that most already have in their home.

 

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Local Resources All Homeschoolers Should Utilize

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If you are a homeschooler, or are planning on homeschooling, then you have likely had someone bring up “socialization” to you at one point or another. It’s the “go to” argument for people who haven’t been directly exposed to homeschooling. Socialization may have been an issue decades ago, but there are so many programs out there now that it is easy to connect with other families. The following is a list of different local resources all homeschoolers should utilize in order to enhance their children’s homeschooling experience.

Co-ops

The most obvious group that homeschoolers should utilize is their local co-op. If you don’t have one that shares the same ideas as you (i.e. secular, religious, unschooling, or more structured) then start one yourself. Our closest local co-op is religious based and since we are secular homeschoolers  a friend and I have decided to start our own. It’s small now but continues to grow. Here are a few co-ops if you are in the Richmond, VA area.

Parks and Recreation Classes

Parks and rec departments are a great resource for homeschoolers. Our local Parks and Rec offers a wide variety of classes including dance, karate, soccer, drama, art, music… and the list goes on. If you live in the Central Virginia area here is a list of Parks and Rec programs:

Park and Museum Classes

A lot of parks and museums offer classes that are geared towards homeschoolers or school groups (co-op field trips). Here is a short list of classes offered at parks and museums around Central Virginia

Library

As homeschoolers the library will likely become your best friend. If your library is anything like mine they hold story times several times a week and special events scattered throughout the year. Sign up for your library’s newsletter in order to keep up with up coming events.

Sport Associations

Whether you choose to take part in community sports or join an actual homeschool league you have a lot of options out there for you. Homeschool Richmond has a full list of athletics for your homeschoolers.

Community Associations

Don’t forget to consider the community associations that we all used growing up! I plan for my children to be very active in our local 4-H Club.

There are programs and classes out there for every interest. Sometimes it just takes a little research.


Our Visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Exhibit

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This past weekend we visited Butterflies Live! at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. We had heard great things about the exhibit and I have to say that it truly lived up to all of the hype.

I think Big B’s favorite part were the tools that Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens put out to encouraged the children to interact with the exhibit. They had magnifying glasses, a scope that allows you to see like a butterfly, and an information sheet with images so you could identify the butterflies.

Throughout the exhibit they had laid out rotting food for the topical butterflies. There was usually at least two butterflies on each plate and because they were distracted you could get a great up close look.

Finally, there was a station where you could see the life cycle of a butterfly.

Lewis Ginter’s Butterflies Live! runs until Oct 14th. If you haven’t been yet I suggest that you go. It was a great experience!


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.