Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Over the past few years my daughter and I have developed a seasonal tradition of working on a craft a day. I’ve found that this is a wonderful way to keep her involved in the daily activities of the holidays; especially when so many of us tend to get overwhelmed with the shopping, gatherings, weather, cooking, and baking.


sugar plums

Since we’ve begun homeschooling this year I’ve tried to incorporate our crafts into her lesson plan. We’ve made Sugar Plums while discussing the Nutcracker Suite and “The Night Before Christmas”, learned songs while making Christmas trees, discussed science while making Cranberry Coffee Cake, and so on.



Do you have a seasonal tradition to keep your children involved in the daily workings of the holidays?

Jennifer can also be found at Unearthing this Life blarging about her experiences living in rural Tennessee.

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A child who learns from gardening
is a child who is unlikely to robotically walk around with dead eyes.

Lee May


Watching children in the garden and out in nature is a wonderful thing, the joy of discovery, the fascination with an emerging plant, and the joy in the little things like a handful of leaves. Mr Chiots and I don’t have children of our own, but we do have nieces and a nephew and we get to watch them in their own garden and in my mom’s garden. They enjoy gardening, especially our nephew who is fascinated with all things dirt. They also love heading to the family cabin to go on nature hikes and they love my parents garden that is filled with all sorts of wonderful things like tall grasses and garden ponds.


Jennifer here. Most of my daughter’s education has taken place outdoors. By the time she was three she could identify all of the springtime flowering trees in our area. She helps in the garden, fishes with her daddy, swims in the creek on hot days, and hikes with her aunt and me. I find it ever so important that any child that spends time with us has the same opportunities to learn from and spend time in nature.


child and chicken

raspberry picking



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Now that the heat is going away, we are spending even more time outdoors. I find it extremely important to teach my daughter about the environment around her, and how to take care of it. This morning we went for a hike on the nearby Natchez Trace. This is the second official “hike” she’s gone on with me and I was afraid we’d already taught her poor lessons about nature. Thanks goodness my sister came to the rescue. She’s been going to school for, well, years – I call her the tenured student. She’s studied geology, teaching, and biology; she’s worked as a tutor, homeschool teacher, nanny, camp counselor, nature guide; and she’s more patient than I have been as of late. If it wasn’t for my sweet sister, I’m not sure I’d have the desire to take my daughter back on a hike anytime soon.


So what could be so hard about taking a six year old hiking on a nature trail? She got upset when I told her she could not take home some leaves and sticks to save in her nature box. The girl talked and talked and talked, then talked some more, as we were hiking – interrupting all the conversations we older gals would have. She wanted to stop at every water crossing for snacks and drinks. It was a special treat for her, but it was frustrating to stop every 15 minutes for a break. We quickly learned that we’d have to work around the Kid’s desires. I don’t feel the need to leave her at home for these shorter hikes, but we quickly found some tools to keep her interested in the world around her instead of the “plans” she’d made. Ahh, it’s tough having a perfectionist as a child, but even more difficult when you’re a perfectionist and idealist yourself!

rock table

My little sister, she who is seven years younger than myself, she without her own children, she who’s been going to school for just this thing for, well, forever… she showed me how to manage my own daughter on a hike and I love her for all of it! In my excitement to spend time out in nature, exercising my tired bones and spending time with my sister, I’d forgotten that part of the reason of taking my daughter with was to teach her something.


  • Get them thinking about the world around them by engaging their brains.
  •  Ask children about what they see.
  • Why would a plant grow in one place instead of another?
  • Why should we cross streams on rocks instead of tromping through the water, overturning every rock we come across?
  • Why is it important to stay on the trail?
  • What can your children see that is significant of the season?
  • Count the different sounds you hear.
  • birds, bugs, water, wind through trees, raindrops, sticks breaking, nuts falling.
  • Have the children guess what could be making those sounds. What type of bird do you think is singing? Do you think that squirrel is angry with us? And so on
  • Can you imagine why it would be so important for an animal to have good senses?
  • Why is it important to take only photographs and memories with you?
  • Imagine someone coming into your house and moving all of your food and furniture around. How would that make you feel?
  • Even items that aren’t food for animals can be food for other things like mushrooms, trees, and so on. The circle of life affects all organisms.


Having my sister with us on our hike today gave me insight of how to teach my own child about the world around us. What techniques and tricks do you use with children when out in the wild?

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We are now well into week 14 of our kinderGARDENS series and we now have a whopping 40 participants!

For those of you that are just hearing about this it is a gardening series I am doing this over on my blog to encourage people to get there kids off their little butts and out into nature and the garden specifically!

Everyone continues to impress the socks right off of me…except that I’m wearing flip-flops but you all know what I mean!

First is Faith who’s children have not only grocery shopped in their very own garden but now have spread the love of ginormous cucumbers to a little friend.  Spreadin’ the garden love…and her photos are to die for!

We have Kristen and her adorable baby gourd! She  is also growing peanuts which I just find so fun..another amazing photographer!

We have a very beginning gardener that is struggling with gophers and breaking new ground…but she is rockin’ our series with the most amazing drawings of her ‘garden to be’!  Visit the Saga of a Hindered but Hopeful Gardener

And if you are up to it you must go see Erin’s bug…he’s right after the photo of the pizza they topped with garden produce!

Lastly there is Julie who wrote a post that had me giggling (plumber’s crack and mosquito issues) and brought a tear to my eye with her keen observations about children and their innocent faith in nature

Each week I am amazed by the enthusiasm that this group of parents and kiddos brings to the series with their great posts and wonderful photos…thanks guys!

I feel like I’ve just made 40 new friends…funny how gardening can do that!

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Since some of NDiN readers (and fellow writer!) are involved in my Children’s Gardening series I thought I would pop in once in a while to update you on the progress all the kids and grownups are making.

Well I must admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started kinderGARDENS…

But the enthusiasm and creativity that our participants have shown has quite frankly blown me away!  There are now 35 families involved, which has far exceeded what I could have hoped for.

I just wanted to share some of the wild and wonderful ideas that have been shared so far…

Just this morning I went and took a peek at a fairy garden that a 10 year old is making…there are tiny little houses and she just got done building a little wooden walkway to connect the houses so the fairies don’t have to get the hems of the little fairy gown dirty!

There is a couple of little boys that instead of replacing the roof of their play structure with another plastic tarp have decided to grow a living green roof made of pumpkins, gourds, and moonflowers…how cool is that?

There has been a lady bug launch and party to rid a garden of aphids!

We’ve got little tiny ones learning to water and who already have tomatoes to check on!

A family that has actually planted a salsa garden…I LOVE salsa…gonna be stealing this idea!

There are rows and rows of berries being planted in what I must admit is a stunning potager!

And finally there are some boys that have made worm boxes and are now working on a tent that is being built out of peas from a recycled play tent!

What has struck me is how enthused the parents say the children are. They talk about their gardens and spend hours and hours out in them.  When we involve little ones in the planning of our gardens they seem to take a great personal interest in what is growing there!

Susan Morrison was our guest this week and in her post she sighted this recent study of how Americans are spending less and less time in the outdoors…I’m hoping that kinderGARDENS will in some tiny way will help buck that trend!

And me? How is our edible maze coming along?

Well here is a picture to illustrate our progress…

With all of our rain we may switch from building maze to building an ark…seems more practical!

It is not to late to join kinderGARDENS…we would love to have you join the fun!

Inadvertent Farmer

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Hey, Kim here!  My kids always ask me what I want for Mother’s Day.

Each year we have the same conversation.

“I just want to hang out with you guys.”

“But that is what you do every day.”

“I know…that is what I like to do.”

“Do you want  a present?”


“Do you want to go out to a restaurant?”


“So what do you want?”

“To hang out with you guys…”

“You are sooo boring.”

“I know. Its  Mother’s Day and I can be boring all day if I want!”

Hmmm…guess that makes everyday Mother’s Day around here!

And frankly I would have it no other way…

Happy Mother’s Day all!


I wish I was a poet: that I had the words to express the emotions of looking into the heart of your own child. Instead I’ll share a few photos with you. Perhaps that can help to express the feelings I have for not only my own child, but my mother as well.

Two of my best friends:



snuggle time

Happy Mother’s Day, Ladies!



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I have been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and have been completely appalled by how our children eat.  The lack of knowledge of fruits and veggies is stunning…shocking that we have come so far from our food source that children cannot recognize many common vegetables.

When I was active in the WSU Master Gardener program my specialty was teaching people to garden with children.  That in of itself was so foreign to me as I cannot remember a time that I did not know how to garden.  Having to go and purposely teach parents to include their kids in their gardens seemed so strange.  But I enjoyed my time with parents that were eager to make their gardens more child friendly.  I also went around to schools and set up school gardens…which was very rewarding, and a also bit challenging!

I still have a deep passion for trying to get adults to include children in the garden.  Our next generation needs to know where their food comes from.  They need to know how to grow real food.  They need to know how to take care of the earth that gives us such bounty…

To that end I have started a summer long children’s gardening series and contest over at the farm.  I know I am preaching to the choir here at Not Dabbing in Normal as most of us are gardeners that love to have our kids with us.  But there is a whole world filled with folks that need a little push to include the little ones.

This is where you all come in…I am asking you a favor.

I would love it if you would come on over and join us.  I would love to include the readers here because as more experienced gardeners than most, I think your ideas and ‘can do‘ attitude would go miles to inspiring the beginners and newbies to gardening with kids.  All you need to do is let me know either here or there that you want to join us…I’ll add you to my blogroll.

And if you need more incentive…I’m awarding prizes for the most creative gardens that include children’s features!

So if you are a pro at building sunflower houses or bean tepees.  If you have some creative ways of growing veggies to appeal to kids or if you can teach us how to build a killer scarecrow…please join us!

This will be a weekly series that runs every Thursday all summer long with the winners being chosen in September.  We will have all summer to plan, create, and grow the most amazing children’s gardens.

But most importantly we will have a chance to show other parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or neighbors how fun it can be to share the love and wonder of gardening with the next generation!

This is so important if we are going to reclaim our food system…we must get our kids involved.  They must know how to grow their own food or know that real food comes from the farmer down the road, from the farmer’s market or CSA and NOT from a box that was made months ago somewhere across the country…or world!

OK…I’m done ranting and preaching to the choir!

Thanks…you guys rock!

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Some of my fondest memories are of cooking with family members. In our family everybody cooked, even the fellows. Grandparents took their time, allowing me to be part of the process. I remember how slowly and perfectly Grandma Dorothy sliced onions and potatoes, and how we peeled tomatoes for canning. Grandmama was the queen of braided bread, chicken and noodles, and all things sweet. She taught me to savor food. Poppy was the ultimate breakfast cook, preparing eggs, bacon, and pancakes or toast every morning. The younger generations like to experiment a bit more: Mom introduced me to crepes; my stepdad is the reigning champion of baking desserts; my uncle, in his own disturbing way, got me to sample deer and rabbit; and my brother, well, let’s say he was one prime reason I was a vegetarian for some time.

kidhelp collage

It’s amazing the memories that food invokes. If a smell can trigger a memory, then the impact of food has to be tenfold. These are some of the reasons that I love to cook with my daughter – so that when she leaves this nest that she’ll have the knowledge and good memories of family and food.

There are some keys to cooking with children. Allow plenty of time for play and mistakes, let your child experiment, and never tell your child that something’s gross unless it’s unhealthy for them. My daughter’s favorite foods include eel, oxtail, squid, and spinach because we’ve tried not to negatively influence her relationships with food.

orange peel scraping

Let your child play with the tools except for those that can be dangerous. One way to allow your child to explore kitchen tools is to make “Bathtub Soup.” We like to gather sieves, strainers, ladles, slotted spoons, measuring cups, bowls, pans, and so on and dump them all in the bathtub with her. It’s like a science kit for the bathtub. She gets to see firsthand how many bubbles fit in ½ cup versus 1 cup or how the turkey baster sucks up water into its bulb.

butter making

To reinforce the importance of the family dinner, I involve my daughter in every meal. She has the responsibility of setting out the silverware and napkins. As she gets older she’ll have more responsibilities. On weeknights I’ll allow her to help stir or pour things into a pot, but our biggest experimentation comes on the weekends when we have more time. I allow her to help make decisions, like deciding on a side dish. On Friday nights we make pizza and she’s allowed to help with the dough and decorate her own dinner. She is also a big part of our garden. She helps to harvest our fruits, vegetables, and herbs, giving her ownership of what we’re preparing. She was 5 years old the first time I allowed her to use my chef knife – and I taught her the first time how to use it properly and without fear. Cleaning up is included in her responsibilities to dinner, and as she gets older those responsibilities will all increase.

Common sense comes from experience. I have had to remind my daughter every time we cook together the three most important rules before anything begins: 1. Fingers away from the cutting board while cutting utensils are in use. 2. Never assume that the stove is ‘off’ 3. No cooking without a grownup (one day I’ll share the story of a certain 5-year old that tried to make oatmeal all by her big self in Mommy’s new pan). I occasionally add a few extras like keeping hands clean or enforce the no double-dipping rule. Now that we’ve cooked together on many occasions, my daughter knows these rules exist and that there are no exceptions.


Above everything else, remember to have fun and don’t let mistakes discourage anyone. Involving your children in cooking will teach them a skill, build creativity, and create bonds and special memories – each of which will last a lifetime.

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Mr Chiots and I don’t have children, so our “homesteading kids” are our nieces & nephew. I went out to the farm where they keep their chickens with them and they were super excited to show me around.

Our little nephew is like most boys, he loves playing in the dirt, so gardening is a fine hobby for him.


As most of you know I have a whole passel of children and I will say that I think without a doubt raising them in the country, around animals, the garden, and nature is just about the best gift I could give them…and myself!

They are great help in the garden…


They feed the animals…

Out of mama’s tea cup…ewwww!

They are pros at checking the fences…

And picking their own breakfast…

They help haul hay!

And even make bread!

Yes homesteading kids work hard and play hard!

And sometimes…just sometimes…they even kiss the camel! 

At least the weird big ones do!

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I friend of ours Michelle posed the question over on the message board asking for ideas to use for teaching an after school gardening class for Kindergarten through 6th grade.  The class would be for 1.5 hours once a week.  She has asked for some ideas on things they could do.

So here is where we all come in.  I will throw out some ideas and would love it if you could too…I think together we can think of some things that may just get some kids interested in gardening!  This could be the perfect way to start out the new year/decade by recruiting the next generation of gardeners!

When I was an active WSU Master Gardener (before I couldn’t keep up with volunteer hours due to having babies) I specialized in children’s gardens for the county extension.  I would go around and talk to parents groups and help set up gardens at elementary schools.  By far and away the favorite thing I demonstrated and helped promote was worm boxes.

Setting up a worm box is easy, it requires only a container, bedding, food, and of course worms!  Here are a few of the things that you could do with a group of kids with a worm box…

  • Set up the box including shredding the paper and gather food such as kitchen veggie scraps
  • Measure worms and chart sizes
  • Observe worms with magnifying glasses or microscopes
  • Observe and then draw worms with the older kids labeling the parts of a worm
  • Discussing the role of worms in the garden
  • Charting each week how much the worms eat
  • Discuss the role of soil in the garden emphasizing the importance of organic practices for the sake of beneficial helpers including the worms

If anyone wants a great book on vermicomposting it is ‘Worms Eat My Garbage’, both the original book and the classroom activities book which is packed with  fun ideas for working with kids and worms!

Now it is your turn…what are some ideas that you might have for working with kids to get them excited to get out and garden later in the spring?

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she rasises organic fruits, veggies, critter, kids and…a camel!

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