5 Ideas for Gardening Fun with Kids

 

Guest post by Wren from finchnwren.com.

Have you ever considered that gardening is a wondrous way to introduce your children to the miracles of God’s creation—and family fun?

5 Ideas for Gardening Fun with Kids @hsbapost

We’ve been a gardening family for 4 years, when a friend gifted us with a small raised garden bed and soil. We purchased zucchini and yellow squash seeds, and were astonished at the harvest! Since then, our garden has expanded every year, with great rewards. And involving your kids in gardening is amazing on so many levels. Here are 5 of my favorite ways…and don’t forget, you can create unit studies out of all of these!

1. Choosing Seeds

Taking your children to the garden center to choose the season’s seeds is the perfect way to start. Seeing the seeds and the potential through their eyes can help us step way out of our comfort zones.

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Choosing Seeds

This is a moment where your vision and dreams for your summer garden can run wild. This year, we picked old favorites and brand new ones, like the mouthwatering mini-watermelon seeds! Of course, you’ve got to keep in mind the length of your growing season, but if you watch the planting dates for your region and stick to that, you can still reap a great and varied harvest.

We’re starting most of our garden from seed this year, and we’re planting beets, basil, zucchini; summer squash, sugar snap peas, and carrots; garlic, watermelon, cucumbers. We’ll be buying tomatoes to put in later once the freeze warnings are over.

2. Creating a Garden Plan

This year, we’re trying square foot gardening. We have 3 raised beds, plus two large containers to work with. I discovered that with square foot gardening, I can plant a LOT, simply by dividing our beds into 12” squares. For example, did you know that you can plant 16 radish plants in one square foot? Or 16 carrots? Or, 8 sugar snap pea plants? My son made a planting guide for our large raised bed in Paint. Great way to combine art and gardening!

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Make a Garden Plan

Your raised bed can yield so much more than you’ve ever imagined, if square foot gardening is new to you. You just need a bed plus wooden slats to place across it in grids, to segment all your square foot spaces. It is fun AND exciting!

3. Birds & Bees

There are some insects whose presence is integral to a garden’s success. And others which might not be as necessary, but will still add value and health. Bees, of course, are vital for pollination. I have several beds which run along our fences that are planted with bee-friendly plants. What’s even better is that they bloom over the course of the summer, so that the bees always have flowers to visit.

Russian sage is super-low maintenance, and bees swarm ours every summer. Our peonies don’t last quite as long, but their sticky nectar and heavy fragrance draw the bees beautifully. Last summer, I needed a little extra on one side of our garden, so I planted catmint. It’s very pleasing to the little pollinators as well. You can also try bee balm, lavender, basil, mint….just Google “plants bees love” and see what will work in your area!

One of our summer joys is watching the hummingbirds in our backyard. Did you know that hummingbirds also do some pollination? I was pretty surprised at this, but I know they love the Russian sage and find our tomato cages a wonderful perch. You can find inexpensive hummingbird feeders at your local discount stores, and make your own nectar at home. (Just heat 1 part granulated sugar with 4 parts water over medium heat til sugar dissolves. Let cool, then pour into feeder.)

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Hummingbird

 

4. Creating and Cooking

We know that kids who grow their own vegetables are much more likely to eat vegetables than those who don’t. I don’t know if your children are veggie-lovers or not, but how cool would it be to create and cook recipes with your kiddos, right out of your garden? We’ve made zucchini pizza rounds, zucchini-tomato gratin, zucchini breads and cakes, squash casserole, stir-fried beef with sugar snap peas…the list is endless! And that’s not including just eating veggies out of hand. My son even created a pasta and squash recipe several years ago that we still eat, which you can find here:  “Jackson’s Amazing Fettucine with Sauteed Squash and Parmesan

 

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Cooking

5. Sprouting

This is more of an indoor activity than an outdoor, but our family loves growing sprouts. This time, not to plant…but just to eat! Sprouts are a wonderful snack, and make a lively addition to sandwiches and salads as well. We have a kitchen seed sprouter, but you can sprout with just a mason jar! My son loves these and I love the fabulous antioxidants and fiber they provide. We’re currently sprouting alfalfa, radish and clover.

5 Ideas for Fun Gardening With Kids ~ Sprouts

There’s so much to love about backyard gardening. You can do it even if you have a teeny tiny space. And involving your family in it…priceless!
How do you involve your family in your gardening? This summer, Kemi from Homemaking Organized http://www.homemakingorganized.com/ and I are hosting a garden linky! Come and link up at Garden Party!

 

Finch n Wren

Wren blogs with her sister Finch at finchnwren.com. She and her husband met on the mission field and still love hearing about God’s work around the world. Wren has homeschooled their only son since the beginning. They love family fun, the beach and great comic book heroes.

 
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A Day In the Life of a Homeschooler: Myth…Or Reality

If you aren’t a homeschooler, you may wonder what, exactly, goes on in the life of a homeschooler all day. If you are a homeschooler, you may worry that every other homeschooler has it all together when you are barely hanging on. But, I’m here to share an honest day in our homeschool family’s life.

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Myth: We rise at the break of day, and the children begin chores while I begin preparing a made from scratch breakfast.

Reality: I get up around 8:30am. My younger girls are up and usually playing Minecraft or watching Netflix. My oldest gets up at 8 and is getting out of the shower when I get up. My son is still asleep, and I wake him to take his shower. Breakfast usually consists of cold cereal or frozen waffles.

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Myth: The house is, of course, always clean and straightened. All of us are faithful to put things away. And I never have dirty dishes in the sink.

Reality: When I head into the kitchen in the morning, I usually find the dirty dishes from the night before. I load the dishwasher and start it as well as starting the laundry before we head into our school work.

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Myth: We head into our school work every morning in a structured and orderly way. Of course the kids sit in desks and learn to sit quietly as we do school work.

Reality: The younger girls and I head into the “schoolroom” (dining room). Although we call it that, it’s not a very structured schoolroom. The girls have a small table that serves as their desks. But, often the small table is a little too messy. So they spread out on our big table as well. In fact, we pretty much do school anywhere- the table, the floor, the desks. School happens wherever we are.

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Myth: The older kids work in their rooms, and they are so enthusiastic each day to get moving and learn.

Reality: They are sometimes less than enthusiastic to actually get going. Charles likes to hang around and stir up the younger girls, distracting them from working. It usually takes a while of wrangling to get him headed in the right direction.

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Myth: When we break for lunch, I prepare another healthy, nutritious meal. We only eat all natural and organic foods. Our bread is made from wheat I grind myself, and our yogurt is also homemade. Of course I had time to do this as well as teach my kids and clean my house.

Reality: Although we do try to eat healthy foods and all natural foods as much as possible, I’m not a great cook. There are often convenience foods on our menu. We have a food rotation for lunch each day of the week. Wednesdays are frozen pizza. Yep, I admit it.

Myth: We keep a strict schedule. The kids are diligent to stay focused on their work throughout the day.

Reality: There are quite a few distractions around our house. Blondie, the dog, is often a big one. None of us can resist petting the puppy, who just happens to need petting right when one of the kids is headed off to work.

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The truth is…we’re just a normal, ordinary family. We aren’t super structured or super clean or super healthy eaters. We’re pretty laid back, and we’re pretty flexible. And it works for us. For almost twelve years we’ve been homeschooling, through the birth of more kids, through hard times in our family, through seasons of rejoicing. The kids are learning and they’re maturing. Day in and day out we live together, work together and learn together. And that’s the reality of our days.

 

 

Leah (5 Posts)

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.


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Homeschooling in London – A Day in the Life

 

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Monday, March 30th, 2015

We’ve been living in South Kensington, London since last January. John is 10.35 and Christine is 8.8 years old.

While this is our final week here before returning to our New York home, and we are trying to savor the experience….this is still a very typical homeschooling day for us marked by online education, a lot of reading, and a little sightseeing.

5:00 am I’m at my PC working on my website and my how-to-homeschool videos. I usually get up at 3 or 4 am but overslept.

6:00 am Inez (wife) is up and headed to the gym.

8:00 am John arises, eats breakfast.

8:30 am Inez leaves for the office. The princess, Christine, arises.

9:00 am Chrissy eats breakfast.

9:15 am John starts his Skype piano lesson. Chrissy takes her weekly bath/swim in the tub!

9:45 am Chrissy starts her math on the computer IXL.com

(I am doing odd jobs, cleaning, laundry, dishes,….even working on the same PC that John has his lesson on. We have a dual-monitor setup.)

10:15 am Piano lesson ends. John reviews his corrected piano “exam”. He scored only 75/100.

10:45 am John starts chess exercises on ChessTempo.com.

11:15 am Chrissy finishes math and starts guitar practice.

(We have NOTHING to do today, i.e. ZERO obligations. I am trying to figure out how we should spend our day. After 14+ months here, we are leaving in 5 days, first for an 11-day trip to Thailand, then back to our “home” in New York.)

11:20 am John calls up a game shop in Covent Garden. He makes a 1:00 pm appointment to play a game of Warhammer with a member of the staff there. It’s free. This is something John has been begging for.

11:30 am Chrissy does the last few pages of her cursive workbook.

11:35 am Chrissy gets back on her IXL.com math.

11:45 am John finishes his chess and packs up his Warhammer pieces.

12:15 pm We get out the door with books to read, 2 Kindles, and my camera!

12:50 pm – 1:50 pm John was at the store playing Warhammer while Chrissy and I had lunch, and read, at Shake Shack ($30 for 2 burgers, 1 hot dog, 1 order of fries, tap water, and self-service!)


On the way back we stop at Raison D’Etre Cafe to visit the owner – who happens to be one of John’s “clients”. Click the link. John designed and set up that simple website for him.

Today he was extremely happy to get paid for his work – 40 pounds, roughly $60 at today’s exchange rates!

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3:30 pm Arrive back home at our “flat”.

3:30 pm – 3:50 pm I set the timer for 20 minutes of “free time”. John chooses to read one of his assigned books anyway – Retribution Falls.

3:50 pm – Chrissy gets to work on her old blog. I say old because she started a new blog today. John is still reading but he’s on to the next book in the series – The Black Lung Captain. I am uploading all the video footage you saw above and now typing this blog post up.

5:15 pm I lie down for 50 minutes to stretch my psoas muscles….with headphones on, listening to a podcast. Chrissy sneaks off to her room to play.

5:50 pm John is still reading this whole time. He’s loving this book series. Inez comes home and starts dinner.

6:45 pm Dinner about to be served. John is on page 386 of the second book that he just started!

7:45 pm John is listening to this piano channel on YouTube.

8:00 pm Inez and I take a walk to the supermarket. John starts Khan Academy math. Chrissy practices the piano for 20 minutes.

8:35 pm The kids get a rare Monday night dessert – M&M brownies. We usually do no sweets Mon-Wed. John is on page 442 of his book now.

8:45 pm Kids are banished to their bedrooms for the night. Inez is spending time with them, probably packing up and organizing all their junk. I am finishing up this blog post which will be published in 1.5 weeks when I’ll be basking in 95 degree Thai heat.

9:54 pm Kids’ lights out. Big day tomorrow as we’ll say goodbye to all our home ed friends at our “Tuesday Park Day”.

Our typical homeschooling days weren’t always like this. We built up to it over time, with trial and error, by “stealing” ideas from others, and by relentlessly cultivating excellence in all that we do.

If I were to give any advice to homeschooling families starting out who are looking to create blissful and productive days it’d be this.

  • Eliminate completely the biggest time and brain wasters – TV, films, and video games.
  • Have your kids read constantly. You may have seen mine reading on the train, on the bus,…and they also read at restaurants, cafes, etc.
  • Use computers to learn almost as much as possible.
  • Take a hard look at all organized activities and constantly ask yourself whether or not they are worth the time and whether or not you could improve upon whatever benefit they provide.

 

Dan (10 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at HomeschoolDad.com.


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