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



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.



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.



Great Children’s Books About Nutrition

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Big B and I have spent the last week checking out piles and piles of books from our local library. I have been on the hunt for books that I could read to him about nutrition. I searched our library’s site using terms like “food,” and “nutrition.” I even looked for other lists online… and I found there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Books that were touted as “good nutrition” books featured children who wouldn’t eat their veggies and that STILL wouldn’t by the end of the story. Some were even stories about how children hid or got rid of their veggies so their parents thought they were eating them, and while a lot of these books were cute it really wasn’t the message I was trying to send.

Big B loves reading, and loves having books that go with our lessons. So, I was on a mission to find good children’s books about nutrition. The following is list of the truly good nutrition books that I found. I promise by the end of each the kid eats their veggies!

(Click on the image to be taken to the book on Amazon)

This has been one of my favorites so far. It features a fruit or veggie for each letter in the alphabet. It’s beautifully illustrated and Big B has really enjoyed looking through it. One of the great benefits of this book has been that Big B has shown interest in trying the fruits and vegetables in the book that he hasn’t heard of… that might be a different story once they are in front of him, but it’s worth a try.

This book is a great example of why you should try something before saying you don’t like it. If you are having a hard time getting your child to try new foods read them this book and explain that if he never tried the green eggs and ham he wouldn’t have found out that he liked them!

This Eric Carle book is beautifully done. It takes your child through the entire process of making a pancake; from gathering wheat, eggs, milk, making butter and finally cooking. This is a great way to show your children where their food comes from!

This is a sweet book is about a little pea that doesn’t want to eat his dinner of candy but does in order to get his veggie dessert!

In “The Monster Who Ate My Peas” a little boy learns a lesson about making deals with monsters who offer to eat his peas.

A dramatic little boy tries to convince his parents that he can’t eat peas because they will turn him into a monster!

This Eric Carle book takes you through a week of food and is set to a song.

I hope your little one enjoys these books as much a Big B did!

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Food Portioning Activity

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I recently ran across this food portioning graphic from ChooseMyPlate.gov. I felt like it was a better, more age appropriate way of showing Big B how much of each food group he was supposed to eat in a day. I created this food portioning activity in order to give Big B a visual of how much of each food group that he should have on his plate

While I will eventually introduce him to the food prymid, I didn’t think he was old enough to understand the concept just yet. This is visually done in a way that is easier to understand.

With this activity I used the same laminated foods that I used during the “Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices” activity, however I think the activity would have been easier if all of the foods were the same scale.

I gave Big B the food pieces and explained how they fit into the different categories. He had been exposed to the food groups before but we went through a quick reminder. He then built a plate…

 



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!