Posted in Family, Gardening, parenting

Garden Fun!

Okay so we know why to start a garden and how but I wanted to post some fun things to do now that you have one!

Again, if you have the space make sure you take the time to plan out seating for your garden. Just having a place outside to sit to do activities and admire your hard work will do wonders.

Also remember that not all kids are the same, some of them will not like getting all dirty and enjoy these activities while some might wish they were getting dirtier.

A good activity to do with kids who are less prone to make mud pies is to do garden planning. Spend the day going around to different gardens, farmer’s markets, and even stores like Home Depot to get some ideas of what you will want in your garden. They can make a list or take photos (disposable cameras probably the best idea). Once you have items listed that your child wants start planning.

Making decorations for in the garden is another activity that doesn’t actually require getting dirty. You can make everything from painted rocks, to labels, to fairy houses. Here are some really ideas for fairy homes that your child can make:

Real Life, One Day at a Time: a fairy gardengarden fairy sign post with 3 signs rustic by NatureScavenger, $12.50This is a good way to help out  birds keep a durable home since the nests are always falling and they end up loosing their eggs. For bird family you can also use  a gallon of milk. Add some straws or a Piece of old clothing to help them stay warm!!!

Also some ideas for the boys:

I love this idea for making mini truck tunnels to create a little construction site in your backyard. My three-year-old (Noah) would love this!IMG_0914_2

I actually think my little girl would love that dino garden…

Anyhoo let’s get dirty-

Obviously letting your kids plant their own seeds and plants is the best way to get them involved. There are some really cute tools out there designed just for kids or just let them bare hand it.

Getting outside in the garden when it’s raining is always fun for kids (obviously not when there’s a tsunami but you know…). Here you can see some ideas I compiled for outdoor rain activities.

If it’s not raining go out into the garden and find a spot that the kids can play in the dirt without disturbing any plants. Bury a few items in there. You can make this game a lot of ways- who left it there? Is that a list left of the items? Is it treasure? Does it have markings of some kind? I couldn’t find any links with some more ideas that go with this but I think you can come up with some cool ones (post below if you do). How to Make a Terrarium

Speaking of digging there’s always the ever fun and ever popular digging for worms! Yeah I know but they are really cool animals if you think about it. They breathe through their skin and some species of earthworms can grow up to ten feet!

How about (for a little older kids) letting them pick out things from the garden to build their own terrarium for their room or to display in the living room. Here’s a great post about doing this with kids:

10 Off-Grid Backyard Games for Your Family ~ Mom with a Prep {blog}There are always backyard games that can enjoyed along side your beautiful garden. This site has quite a few ideas, some I hadn’t seen until stumbling across it.

For little ones consider adding a sandbox or a rock box to your backyard garden. There are pluses to both so do a little research to see which you would prefer having.

For teens getting them involved in all the nitty gritty parts of gardening is a plus. Also I think showing them the payoff of the hard work is even better. If you’re growing anything edible let your teen come up with new dinners to try with the ingredients. If you’re growing flowers let your teen make something that they can give to their grandparents or to the local nursing homes. I know charity isn’t everyone’s thing but most middle school and teenagers react well to making others happy.

 

 

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Posted in Family, Gardening, parenting

Natural Insect Repellents

It’s kind of a given that you shouldn’t use too many chemicals in an area that your kids are going to be playing in. However, if you are someone like me who loves the outdoors but has an overwhelming fear of something that’s creepy and crawling with eight legs and a thousand soulless little eyes (a totally rational fear I might add), then you may be determined to use some sort of insect repellent in your garden and yard.

There are some natural ways to do this. I will say the only one I have tried personally is the first one (and that was just in my house and while camping, not necessarily on my garden yet). But! None the less, before going on with anymore gardening information I thought I would share some natural insect repellents that I have found:
SPIDERS!!
My arch nemesis. There are several things that claim to repel spiders. I have read in multiple places and have tried in my own home using the smell of citrus. Apparently they don’t like it. Using lemon peels, orange peels, and lime peels is one way to harness this scent. Boil them in some water and put that water into a spray bottle. Spray all around your doors (or in this case your plants). In your garden you can actually just lay citrus peels out around your plants.
There are plenty of citrus essential oils to try as well, lemon I think being one of the strongest.
I have also seen some recipes that say adding vinegar to the lemon and water spray bottle idea will help to repel spiders. Unfortunately the small of vinegar makes me ill so I can’t test if this is effective.
Some other things that I have read:
Peppermint oil; for the same reason as citrus, the scent is unappealing
Cedar Chips; I’m not really sure why but I have seen using cedar chips can repeal them
Chestnuts; you just place chestnuts in a bowl and put on window seal ( I would assume this would work in a garden as well)

MOSQUITOES
mar
One natural way to repel mosquitos is to plant marigolds. BE ADVISED, they do attract bees, which I don’t think is a bad thing but if that’s another little bug you’re trying to stray from then not the best idea ( I know a lot of flowers do but marigolds are potentially even more appealing and they also attract spiders).

I’m one of the only people I know who does not enjoy the relaxing scent of lavender. Apparently mosquitos do not like the smell either. Planting lavender in your garden will help to repel them.

citronella

There is always the tried and true citronella. The candle wasn’t just dreamed up one day. Planting citronella can repel mosquitoes from your yard.

 

 

Japanese Beetles
Some repellent plants for Japanese beetles are catnip, chives, and rue.
Ehow has a short article on making a natural Japanese beetle spray. You’ll need baby oil, dishwashing soap, garlic, and a spray bottle. If you combine these repellent plants and use this spray then you should be beetle free!

If you know of some home remedies for insect repellents or natural ways to get insects out of your garden please share!

Posted in Family, Gardening

Why Start a Family Garden

Remember that Lima bean experiment you did in school with the wet paper towel? You got to watch over time the roots grow and the bean start to sprout into a plant. Other than that one tiny bean I don’t recall any sort of gardening or growing of food education when I was in school. There are some schools now that have programs for this but most do not. That is why I am doing a four part post on why you should garden with your children, what the advantages are, how to do it successfully, and some fun activities to incorporate.

Chances are you have at least one place that you remember as a kid, which was outside, that you liked to go to. Maybe it was a relative’s garden, or the woods behind your friend’s house, or even the local farmer’s market. I remember a friend of the family had an old plantation. In his backyard was a small bush lined maze with four pockets. Inside were things like a bird bath, or a fruit tree, or different kinds of plants, but walking through there just transported me to somewhere else when I was younger. You can make a small magical area for your kids right in your own backyard. Don’t stop reading if you think your yard is too small or you don’t have the area that would be needed. Even window plants, porch plants, indoor gardens, and other small areas can work.

                                                                                               (Results may vary, fairy not included in all gardens, not typical outcome)

With STEM education still on the rise learning environmental science can never start early enough. Getting firsthand experience with nature and watching things grow can give you child an educational boost in the science department. Also getting kids outside and working in a garden starting a young age will make them less likely to become couch potatoes. Childhood obesity is no joke and is still, even with all the great resources out there, a major problem. If your child starts to appreciate the outdoors and everything they have to offer you can probably avoid this problem. They will be getting physical exercise while gardening and learn a sense of responsibility. If you are growing fruits and vegetables then learning good nutrition and becoming interested in eating these natural foods will also create healthier children.

On top of everything you will bond. You will start something that you and your children do together that will become almost a tradition. Something they will remember and (hopefully) keep up into their teen years when they are the hardest to reach.

Another huge plus to gardening and growing foods with your children is improving their self-esteem. Some signs your child maybe experiencing low self-esteem can range from not trying new tasks, cheating at games or on tests, becoming withdrawn, being over sensitive of other’s feelings about them, and even trying to be too helpful at home. Gardening can instill responsibility and also give them a sense of pride. They can show off what they have done and say “I made that grow”.

Even though we do not want to cheat per say I found a great list of plants which are easier to grow. Seeing the end product and their plants be successful can be crucial to keeping their interest in gardening alive, especially in the beginning. There are also ideas for indoor and potted plants.

See list here. 

A good garden is something you can work on all year long, so don’t assume you can only use this as a way to bond in the spring and summer months. I will show you in the activities post how to make some of the garden excitement last throughout the year.

More on this to come…

Posted in Easter, Education, Family, Holidays, parenting

Educational Easter

The title may already sound a little boring, and I’m not one of those people who thinks kids should be learning all day, everyday; however, Easter is prime time for learning activities.

If you are Christian it is even more of a perfect time for educational activities. The resurrection is not an easy concept to grasp so the earlier kids learn the story of Jesus the better they will understand it when they are older. There are a lot of resources available now to help you tell and explain this story. One idea, give out coloring pages and explain what is happening in those pages while your child colors.

Ascension of Jesus coloring page

The Ascension of Jesus

Another craft idea that I thought was really cool was this silhouette painting of the Crucifixion. This can be for children, toddler through teen I think. If you click and follow the link it takes you to the site where you can print off the silhouette. Then your child paints with water color around it. They come out really beautiful looking. I am definitely going to do this next year.

printable water color crucifix

If you are not Christian or you just want some non religious educational activities for Easter, there are plenty.

For younger students anything involving plastic Easter eggs and matching can turn into a fun game. You can match rhyming words. Have words that rhyme on top and bottom and mix them all up. Have your child put the rhyming words together. Do not put the matches all in the same colors. That is too easy! You can do this with numbers as well. You can write a number on the bottom piece, for example 9. Then on the top piece write 6+3. Do this for all the numbers 1-15 and have your child match the right answers.

Another fun matching one for younger kids (toddler-pre K) is making emotions. Draw different mouths (sad, teeth grin, growl, tongue out, yelling, ect) on the bottom pieces and different eyes (wide eyes, squinted eyes, winking eye, ect) on the tops. Have you child piece them together to make faces and explain what they think that face is feelings and why.

Tool for teaching emotions in kids of all ages.   By Laughing Kids Learn

Another matching activity that doesn’t involve Easter eggs (and you can do this for any holiday or image really) is to use Popsicle sticks. Chose a simple image, lay out the Popsicle sticks flat and paint the image on them. Then mix them all up and have your child put them back in order.

Teens are a little harder this time of year. Of course they still want candy, who doesn’t. But as far as activities go there isn’t much geared towards older kids. Having them help with the activities for the younger kids is always a good way for them to stay involved. If you want to do something for your teen a scavenger hunt is the more complex Easter egg hunt. Still hide some eggs, fill them with what you want, and hide in really tough places. Now leave a list of clues. Here’s one example:

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt Clues | Storypiece.net

To this you could say, yes that’s cool but it’s not really educational. And to that I would say, you’re probably right. Although riddles and puzzles do definitely get the brain going!

If you want something a little more science-y then you could do the planets! Now that my favorite is gone, you would only need eight eggs for the eight planets.

Instead of dip dying the eggs try the shaving cream method to get the swirled gaseous look that most the planets have.

Shaving Cream Marbled Easter Eggs #Easter Eggs #Easter #Shaving Cream

Have your middle school or high school student color the eggs according to which planet they are supposed to be (ie Mecury could be red and orange swirled, Venus green and yellow, Earth blue and green, ect). Once they are colored mix the eggs up for them and have them put them in order.

Another cool science experiment you can incorporate into the Easter season thanks to the wonderful amount of things you can do with eggs, is to show air pressure! I know that sounds less than exciting but watch this short video involving a glass jar, a hard boiled egg, and some matches.

Investigating air pressure – more eggs!

If you can think more ideas feel free to leave comments below!

Posted in Christmas, parenting

Christmas with Teens

So now that I have a toddler I am reliving all the Christmas jitters I got as a kid (let’s be real I still got them before I had a toddler). But it is really exciting to find new family traditions to start.

However, it seems that as the holidays approach teens seem to get left out as far as activities go. Besides asking for new electronics or a thousand new name brand shoes there isn’t always a lot for them to do. I think it’s important to keep them interested and excited about the holidays. If they don’t have a younger sibling this may seems a little daunting so here are some ideas:

Make gifts: You are never too old to make homemade gifts. Half of what I am giving out this year are homemade gifts. Try to focus on a special family member like grandparents or close aunt or uncle. They can create photo gifts, jewelry gifts, ornaments, candles, there’s dozens of ideas out there. Check out this site for some ideas.

Spa Day: If you have a daughter doing a Christmas spa day might be a great way to bond. I am not the “salon/spa/beauty day” type but I always take a day right before Christmas and right before my birthday to do an at home beauty day. Try doing one at home with your teen. Get some fun nail colors or stickers that go with the holidays. Beware you may end up looking like this-

Make some homemade beauty recipes like a super easy sugar scrub or a face mask (this one is anti acne and anti aging). My personal favorite homemade face wash that I just started using is:

1 Lemon, squeezed into a jar with a lid

20 drops of grape seed oil

5 drops of olive oil

1/4 cup oatmeal

Mix the wet ingredients together in jar. Put the oatmeal in a different bowl and slowly add the wet mixture to it using dropper. Also add some water in between. You should get the oatmeal to a mushy texture but not soaked. Now rub your face with it! It definitely is weird washing your face with oatmeal but my skin feels awesome after doing this.

Charity: Remembering those in need is something that is always important around the holidays. This can be as simple as working at a soup kitchen, doing a clean out day where you and your teen go through your closets and find things to donate, sponsor a grandparent or child from one of the local churches nearby. Or if your teen is really creative, why not pick something to raise money for and try a t-shirt fundraiser. Check out Bonfire Funds for help and ideas.

Baking: You are never too old to bake Christmas cookies…enough said.

Ask them! Maybe they know of something a friend of theirs does as a tradition or they’ve seen something online that they thought would be cool to try. Sometimes it’s just as simple as asking them what they want to do to better enjoy the holidays.

Posted in Education, parenting

Communicating with your teen via crafts

Sometimes the hardest thing to do with your teen is just to talk. Most parents do not have a close relationship with their teenagers. I say most from personal experience if that isn’t you then great! But next time your at the book store or on Google just look up parent-teenager relationships and you’ll see a plethora of self help books to help you bond, or at least to get along better.

As children reach adolescence, everything changes. Their body, their voice, their thoughts, their friends, the subjects they study, the way school is structured, the music they like, the movies they like, literally everything. It’s a time of trying to find independence and striving to be the person they want people to see them as. This can be good or bad but that’s a whole other post on it’s own. At the same time as a parent you are seeing outside influences you want to keep your tween/teen from. Sex, drugs, bad friends, vulgar movies and music, bad habits, and just the fear of letting your child go. It’s a rough time for both parent and teen.

Without being preachy or trying to give parenting advice (because I’m not) I think that one way to stay civil, and allow your teen to still know that you are there for them no matter what, is to keep an open form of communication. This doesn’t mean try to be their best friend and tell them that everything they do is good and wonderful if it’s something harmful, but this means staying involved without being overbearing. It may sound a little cheesy but continuing to do projects and activities with your older children is still a good way to create bonds. If you want to include younger siblings that’s great or if you want it to be just you and teen that’s great too.

Arts and crafts are a good way to engage with your teen. Just get creative, take into consideration what your teen likes, and looking online for help never hurts. Here are some ideas:

Crafted Love– A collage craft out of newspaper with a painted silhouette on it. You can really use this and make it your own. If you or your teen like a certain movie or song, paint a quote over the newspaper. Here is another example-

You can really use old newspapers for an array of projects; decoupage lamps, folders, clocks, frames, even Light Sockets.

Do you or teen like to garden? Do either of you have a self of collectibles? You can paint rocks. I know that sounds horribly not exciting but actually it can be a good project. You can use painted rocks as decoration around a bedroom, in the kitchen, as bookends, on the front porch, or out in the garden.

Photobucket

 

Re purposing old books is a popular craft option. The picture to the left would be quite the project to undertake (but look how cool!); however, there are plenty of not so daunting projects you can create with old books. You can make purses, frames, keep sake boxes, pencil holders, art, there’s really pages of ideas on Pinterest or Google.

 

 

The important thing is to make this fun. Don’t force your teen to sit and do crafts with you but chances are if you approach them and say “hey I saw this thing I want to try and make, want to help me?” they probably will.