Home schoolers and the farm

Sue swtgrssfrm at nls.net
Thu Sep 13 13:55:36 EDT 2001

     We are homeschoolers too.  I agree with the earlier post about giving the
kids a job to do.  I think the kids will get more out of it if they can actively
do something and it will make it easier on you if they are focused all in one
spot.  We have lots of kids at our place and I am always reminded about how I
need to keep things very structured- at least until I know the kids.  I would
make sure I gave my helpers specific instructions about keeping the kids with
the group.  I find there is often one or two who would like to just wander so
make sure you have enough people on hand for 'crowd control'.  Most often the
kids are so excited they are there they are not misbehaving but just
enthusiastic.  They do not want to miss anything.
   A couple years ago I did a Little House book club from the Little House books
by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The kids loved it.  Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls is a
good book to have the older kids read to prepare them for a farm visit and it
makes a good read aloud for the younger kids too.  You can make butter with
cream by using baby food jars and letting the kids shake it until it forms
butter- very simple and gives the kids something to take home.  Ice cream can be
made in a similar way and after you read Farmer Boy you will see why ice cream
is a big part of the story- no wonder the kids like this story so much.  I did
simple homesteading types of activities with my book club kids- harvested
veggies (something sturdy like pumpkins would be wonderful), dried apple
slices,  gathered herbs to dry,  collected eggs,   looked for animal tracks,
show them different grains (you can let the kids make a mosaic type of picture
by gluing grain onto sturdy paper if you end up having rainy weather).   Are the
kids coming to your place from a rural, suburban or urban type of homes?  If
this will be a new environment for them I would send out some kind of outline
before hand to give the moms an opportunity to prepare the kids with background
info.  A theme to their visit would be good too- ecology, nutrition, gardening,
sustainable farming, literature based ( Little House books, Charlotte's Web),
historical (pioneers, Johnny Appleseed) are some ideas that pop into my head.
You may find one of the homeschooling moms more than happy to gather together
some info. for you.  The kids could come to your place after they have done
their 'homework' at home.
   Please excuse my rambling.  I have done this on an informal level with other
homeschooling families and once I am not so occupied with my own kids would love
to do this too.  I would love to hear what you come up with and how it goes.
Sue Steiner
Sweetgrass Farm
Wadsworth, Ohio

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