COUNTRY FUN

~ early education care ~ where our play supports our learning

May 20, 2014
by countryfun
2 Comments

Gardening 2014 Begins

I love getting my hands into the dirt, watching things grow and feeling the satisfaction of enjoying something I had a hand in raising. In trying to expose the children here to some of that I encourage them to help me as I garden. Maybe it’s the perennials, but more likely the herbs and vegetables. Every time we’re checking the herb garden we have to touch and smell.herbs

The vegetable garden is a totally different experience.

Garden2014.jpg

Our backyard garden is not about teaching children about plants. It’s about us having fresh vegetables for eating. The learning comes naturally through the growing season for children who are interested. To involve the children we explore the seeds, discussing differences in size and shape, explaining how it helps us know how deep to plant them. There are some seeds that are really easy for small hands to seed (spinach, beets, kale, lettuce, carrots) as it’s about just spread them on top of the soil, then sprinkling a little soil over them, patting down and watering. I also always let them help with peas and onion sets. I try to get them to place and then poke into the ground the depth of their finger. What I find is the onions can be hard to poke in, so I follow behind to finish off. The peas go in easy, but often only about half germinate, so I reseed. I purchase many of the plants as seedlings from local farmers and plant them myself. Once done it’s time to tour, begin checking on growth progress, discussing varieties planted, how, why and what we can expect. The weeding I’ll do, but we’ll soon thin with the purpose of eating. (We’re already harvesting the rhubarb and asparagus.)

Gardening Begins 2014 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

One of those discussions is around why there are sticks and paper tubes. Simple answer – cut worms. Cut WormA garden pest that likes new seedlings. They circle the stem cutting through it. The stick stops them from getting around the stem. The paper tube works the same. I use paper tubes around seedlings can slide over. Sticks on all others.

 

October 18, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Farm to Preschool Day

Farm to Preschool Day

Love seeing the current push in education to get kids involved in growing and harvesting some of the food they eat.

As a gardener I have always involved the children here in my gardens, whether flowers, herbs or vegetable. We compost, plan, plant, weed, harvest and enjoy! Through these experiences we learn about our environment, ourselves, math, science, language and patience. Over the years the experiences have changed depending on the direction of interest by the children in program, but all have involved experiencing a variety of vegetables as part of our daily lunch and snacks.

Our gardening experiences in 2010

Gardening begins in 2012

Gardening begins in 2013

Vegetable snacks ideas

Today we are Celebrating Farm to Preschool Day – October 18, 2013.

Even though we eat our harvested vegetables year round, discussing where they come from, and importance of eating a rainbow for nutritional variety, it’s fun to bring a special focus today. For that the goal is to eat a vegetable that comes from the different parts of a plant. Not only will we be enjoying a variety of vegetables we will be learning more about the parts of a plant. We are also talking about seasonal changes at this time and can include that in the vegetables we are finishing harvesting and still growing in the garden.

Today’s meal is a Garden Lasagna made with a sauce base of heirloom and plum tomatoes, rainbow swiss chard, colored sweet bell peppers, fresh shell beans and herbs. This sauce is layered with dumpling noodles, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.

We will have eaten leaves, seeds, fruit from blossoms, and stems. Only missing the roots – which will be covered with the carrots from snack.

garden lasagna

May 20, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Sunny Means Lessons Change

Sunny Means Lessons Change

Last week was one of those Springtime weeks made up of really nice, sunny days. That means we were outside pretty much all day every day. That means no projects, which is ok, because around here learning occurs from whatever we are doing. I had planned on doing lessons on self and senses. They got shelved and it became all about Dandelions and Bugs.

dandelions The fields around us are loaded with dandelions which means lots of bouquets to go home at night. These sunny yellow flowers are a child magnet. A good chance to talk about sharing with someone you love, best ways to pick, length of stems, color, plant parts, life cycle of the dandelion.

and grub Grubs are easy to find in the newly weeded or turned gardens around here. The white grub is the larval form of the Japanese beetle.  A good time to learn how some insects and bugs are not of benefit and ok to smoosh. Another life cycle to learn about.

and June Bug This large beetle lets one get a closer look at the parts of a bug. We know these as the May or June Bug. It is a large (about 1″ long), slower moving bettle that we could see the hair on the legs, antenna and mouth parts. Yes, we smushed this one also, as they eat foliage and the grub larve eat roots of plants. Not good.

Checked into the sprouting garden. peas up 2013 DSC03107

and managed to get lots of pretend play in around camping. campfire DSC03108

May 1, 2013
by countryfun
Comments Off on Passing on My Love for Worms

Passing on My Love for Worms

Yes, I said “Love” about worms. Some of this gardener’s best friends.

Worms – Our Underground Gardeners

As I told the kids I think worms are incredible, wonderful and very important to the health of our planet.

Do they feel slimy if picked up? Of course, but slime does not equal dirty. Our skin would feel slimy too if it was always moist, so we could breathe, or had to always be moving through tunnels of dirt.

If an earthworm dries out it will die.

Worms are the underground gardeners. They are the ones who work and tender the roots and soil that all our living plants grow in. Worms help aerate our soils. They mix it up through their eating and tunneling. They supply a very rich fertilizer.

Worms have no ears, eyes or nose, only a mouth. They tunnel by digging with their mouths. Thus they really dig and eat at the same time.

What does our body do with the extra waste from our foods? Well worms do the same. Unlike us however, their poop is wonderful fertilizer.

My favorite place to find worms is in my large composting piles. Worms mean the composting is healthy and working. Now it’s hard to find worms during the day, unless you dig one up. That’s because worms come above ground mostly at night. remember they do not want to dry out.

Speaking of Composting….

We followed up our reading of Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser with a visit to the garden’s composting bins. 2 bins got totally turned and screened this weekend in time to start loading up again with dry, raked material. This will be mixed with our fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings. I left one bin so the children could see how the screening works and also see the different layers. There was also an almost full wheel barrel of compost waiting for use that we could inspect and explore. 

It was fun to pick out very small pieces of peanut shells, eggshells, leaves, etc. 

The compost on top was warm and dry, but as we worked our hands into it it became cooler and damp. The children all seemed to enjoy the feel of the material. Very light/airy. 

Worm Poop!

The last part of this was showing the children what worm poop (“castings” for those that want a more refined label) looks like. Luckily I have a nice flower garden area where there is a lot of worm activity.

That means piles of poop.

That means lots of laughing kids.

 

 

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