Welcome to the third part of our The ABCs of…Farming for Children series, where we take a look at how you can use farming as an educational tool to learn through playing (and of course actually doing it). If you missed our two part, please click here for A-F, here for G-L and here for M-R.
Safety – Life on a farm has many dangers and risks, which is why to look out for safety is, as in many other parts of life, a very important factor. When operating any tools or any machinery, protective gear is mandatory, as is using them the correct and intended way. Also when dealing with animals you always have to be careful not to get hurt or hurt them in the process.
Sheep – Sheep are one of the most versatile animals on farms. They give wool, milk and meat and can be held in big herds without any big problems. Their usually fairly relaxed behaviour makes them very good candidates to introduce children to animals, even more so since their wool is very nice to the touch and gives a sensory experience on top of it.
Stable – Unless the farm is solely for crops, there has to be a stable for the cows and horses (and pens for the sheep, sties for the pigs, coops for the chickens and whichever other animals the farm as to offer). Usually it is the closest building to the house the farmer lives in, since he has to react quickly in case there is something wrong and an animal needs attention. Small Potatoes has a great post about a Small World Stable that can give you some ideas of how to build a little stable yourself
Sustenance – Most farms are able to sustain themselves, not just to provide themselves with enough food to survive, but with enough to sell to neighbouring towns or companies in order to pay for whatever they can’t grow themselves (gas and spare parts for the tractor don’t quite grow on trees just yet).
Tomatoes – The most misunderstood fruit of them all (because almost everybody thinks that it is a vegetable) is a staple in any vegetable garden (ok, should probably be fruit and vegetable garden now) and on many farms due to its robustness. You can find them in many different dishes and consistencies, crushed, as sauce, as soup, as paste, as juice, fried, cooked and many more. What would pizza or pasta without the characteristic sauce (ok, pizza or pasta with another sauce, but that is not the point)?
Tractor – Before technological advances created the tractor, farmers had to use animals to pull the plow or carts to get things done. Nowadays the horses and oxen are happy to be able to enjoy their lives, while the tractors pull plows, mow grass and make haybales, move around carts and wagons and more.
U-Pick – Many farms these days offer so-called u-pick, where people can go into the orchard or the field and pick whatever fruit is being offered themselves and pay either by bag or by weight. This is a great experience with children, to go apple or strawberry picking. 52 Brand New has a great post about exploring asparagus picking.
Vegetables – Even though for many children just mentioning the word “vegetable” will get a big “NO!” answer, they offer so many variations and advantages, both in nutrition and flavour (admittedly, not all of them excel the same way, though). Most farms grow different varieties, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, beans, peas, carrots, radishes and much more, many of which you can grow in your backyard as well and the children will be more than happy to help you. And the more they help, the bigger the chance that they will eventually also try them.
Watering – Every part of the farm needs water – the humans, the animals, the plants, so a good supply of water is of highest importance when running a farm. Many farms have their own wells that they have dug, to cover their water needs and many also collect rain water to have a surplus they don’t have to take out of their own wells or out of public water systems.
Wood – Together with bricks and stone, wood is the main resource used for building. Be it coops, stables, fences or other things, wood is often in high demand, so farms try to use reclaimed wood as much as they can, be it old doors, beams, walls and more.
Wool – Unless you want to go synthetic, sheep’s wool is where it is at. After being sheared off the animal, the wool is being scoured to remove dirt and body grease from the wool before being spun into yarn. Australia is responsible for one quarter of the world’s wool production.
X-perience – It is not surprising that most farms have been in families’ possession for generations, with the parents passing on not only the farm, but also the knowledge and experience they have built up over the years, ensuring that the future generation can live off it and does not have to start from zero again.
Yard – The yard is where many things on the farm happen, usually situated between the house, the stables and the barn, things are being fixed, put together, people meet and much, much more. It is almost like the outdoor living room of the farm, so to say.
Zero wastes – Farms are known to go for “zero waste”, trying to reuse and recycle as many things as possible to minimize wasting goods or resources. This can be reusing wood to build something new, capturing rain water to reuse, using old fabric scraps for quilts and manure as fertilizer.
We have tried to provide you with some added content by linking to posts of some of the amazing blogs of the Kids Blogger Network, but some just did not fit with particular points and letters, so we have decided to give you a list of some more reading material
Here are a bunch of links to farm play:
- Small Potatoes’ “Building a World in a Box”
- My Nearest And Dearest’s “On the Farm Small World Play”
- Creative Playhouse’s “Small World Farm”
- Taming The Goblin’s “Small World Play”
- Taming The Goblin’s “Messy Farm Play”
Overall there are more than 70 bloggers participating in this series, covering all kinds of topics related to children. Below you can find the rest of the participants in the “Learning through play” category, or you may want to browse through the entire series.
- Baking with Kids from Life at the Zoo
- Bath Activities for Kids from Bath Activities for Kids
- Discovery Bottles from Teach Preschool
- Farming for Children from Glittering Muffins
- Fitness for Kids from 3 Dinosaurs
- Imaginative Play from Train up a Child
- Kids Activities from Growing a Jeweled Rose
- Learning Through Play from Love Play & Learn
- Learning Toys & Manipulatives from This Reading Mama
- Movement Activities for Young Kids from AngeliqueFelix.com
- Play Dough from The Imagination Tree
- Playing with Light from Graham and Parker
- Preschool Play from Its Our Long Story
- Sensory Bins from Royal Baloo
- Sensory Play from Creative Play House
- Toddler Activities from Toddler Approved
- Winter Outdoor Play from Pleasantest Thing
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