Showing posts with label Projects for Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Projects for Kids. Show all posts

Dec 18, 2018

How is Toothpaste Like Your Tongue?

Why Words Can't be Taken Back
Here's a fun way to help kids visualize and remember that words can't really be taken back.

Have your child grab a tube of toothpaste (for this exercise, I bought a tube at the Dollar Tree; any brand will do) and cover a table with a plastic tablecloth. Tell him to squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the cloth. In my experience, kids think this is loads of fun. (After all, all their life they've been told not to use too much toothpaste or squirt it all over the bathroom counter!)

When he is all done, listen to the squeals as you tell him: "Now, put the toothpaste back in the tube!" If you want to up the ante, you can offer a monetary reward or a special privilege if he can complete this (impossible) task.

When your child gives up, say:

"The toothpaste is like your tongue. Once words come from your tongue, it's impossible to get them back inside your mouth. That's why we have to be careful what we say. You may wish you could take words back, but you really can't. Hurtful words, once out of your mouth, stay out."

Then look up some Bible passages together about taming the tongue; here are some to get you started:

"Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble." Prov. 21:23

"Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing." Prov. 12:18

"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." Prov. 10:19

"Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips." Ps. 141:3

"If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. " James 1:26

"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Eph. 4:29

"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies." 1 Pet. 3:10

"Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself." James 3:2-6

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." Prov. 15:1

"Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent." Prov. 17:28

"[For there is] A time to be quiet and a time to speak." Ecc. 3:7

When I originally did this project with my kids, my oldest was just 5. She loved the exercise, and afterward, any time her tongue started saying something it shouldn't, all I had to say was "Toothpaste!" Now my oldest is a teen and this exercise is a dim memory for her. Given how tongue-vicious our society is these days, I think it's a great time to re-do this valuable life lesson with both my children.

A version of this post originally appeared in April of 2011.

Oct 24, 2017

What Fills Your Day? An Easy Experiment for Kids

Easy Experiment for Children
Years ago, my firstborn and I conducted a preschool experiment that, given the culture we live in, ought to be required for people of all ages. Not only does it illustrate how easy it is to fill our lives with less important things, it also shows there's always room for Jesus, every single day.

To prepare, I cut up some inexpensive sponges, dug out an empty glass jar (see-through plastic works, too), and filled a pitcher with water.

I laid the sponges and the jar on the table and asked my daughter to name some things that fill her day. She came up with many things, from brushing her teeth and hair to doing school work and playing with her toys. For each thing she named, I asked her to place one piece of sponge in the jar.

Soon I said, "It doesn't seem like there's room for anything else, does there?" We then took a few minutes to discuss whether she had filled her jar with time wasters, less important things, or truly important things. "If we remove some of the less important sponges - like maybe watching cartoons - will you have room for more important things, like visiting with friends?" I asked. She readily agreed.

Then I touched the pitcher of water. "Jesus is like this water," I said, as I slowly poured the liquid into the jar. She wasn't sure she understood, so I explained: "It seemed there was room for nothing else in the jar, didn't it? But there was plenty of room left for this water. Sometimes our lives seem so busy - much too full for us to spend time with God. But there is always time for Him. And what do you notice about the sponges now?"

She said they were bigger. "Yes, the sponges grew, didn't they?" I said. "That's what Jesus does to us. When we make time for him, he fills us up with lots of good things."

It's a lesson she never forgot.

This post was originally published in a slightly different form on 10/9/09.

Jun 6, 2016

Free Jefferson Disc Cipher Printable

Recently, my children have been studying the American Revolution. Last fall, I wrote them a chapter book about teenage Revolutionary War heroine Sybil Luddington, and inspired by this book, they've been a little obsessed with learning about Revolutionary War spies. (Incidentally, the Sybil Luddington book will be available to everyone in the coming months; it's a sequel to my free children's chapter book Day with the Dinosaurs - which you can snag here.)

As part of our studies, we've been having lots of fun with invisible ink (made from a variety of household materials) and ciphers. We learned that Thomas Jefferson invented something called the Jefferson Disc Cipher (sometimes called a wheel cipher or Bazeries cylinder; you can see an image of it to the left). It worked so well, the American government continued to use it right on up to WWII! You can read more about the Jefferson Disc Cipher at Wikipedia and

Online, I found a number of sites that suggested ways to make a disc cipher; one recommended collecting mayonnaise lids for the discs - but it would take us a long time to go through enough mayo to get the required number of lids. Another suggested ribbon spools, but I didn't have any on hand. And others suggested just using paper - but the directions were either non-existent or confusing. In the end, I made our own paper template, which you can download for free by clicking the link below.

Free Jefferson Disc Cipher Printable (.PDF)

My kids absolutely love this simple cipher! They've spent hours creating and deciphering messages with each other. Maybe they need a nice wooden one that will last; they sell them at Monticello, and at Amazon. We'll see.

How to Make a Simple Jefferson Wheel Cipher

You will need:

Printed "free Jefferson Disc Cipher Printable" (see above link)
An empty toilet paper tube (or empty paper towel tube)

1. Cut out the columns of letters. There will be 7 strips. (If using a paper towel tube, you will need to print out more than one sheet of letters.)

2. Take one of the strips of paper and wrap it around the outside of the tube. Tape the two ends of the paper together. The strip should spin around the tube; do not tape the strip to the tube. Continue with the remaining strips of paper.

3. To use the disc cipher, first decide what you want to say. Then find where the first letter of the first word is on the first strip of paper. On a piece of blank paper, write down the letter that's beneath it on the disc cipher. Now find the second letter of the word on the second strip of paper. Write down the letter beneath it...and so on, until your message is complete. Use an underscore ( _ ) between words. Now someone with the exact same cipher can decode your message!

Example of How to Use the Disc Cipher:

Let's say I want to send the following message: "Help me!" 

First, I'd find the letter H on the first strip of paper. Since the letter under that is O, I'd write the letter O on a blank piece of paper. 

Next, I'd find the letter E on the second strip of paper. Since the letter under it is L, I'd write the letter L on the paper. 

I'd continue, moving to the next strip of paper each time I needed a new letter, until I no longer had letter strips on the right hand side of the tube. Then I'd move back to the first (left hand side) letter strip...until I'd written out my entire message. When I was done, my message would read:


Now I'd hand the cipher wheel over to my fellow spy, along with my coded message.

To decipher the message, my friend would find the letter O on the first paper strip. The letter just above it is H, so he'd write H down on a piece of paper. 

Now he'd look at the second strip of paper and find the letter L. The letter just below it is E, so he'd write that down...and so on until the message is deciphered.

Dec 29, 2015

Most Popular Posts 2015 - and All Time!

I've been blogging at Proverbs 31 Woman for six years (and have written over 1,140 posts!), but honestly, I never have any clue which posts are going to be the most talked about or viewed. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and judging by what posts are most popular here, I have to agree! It's always a pretty eclectic list. I hope you enjoy it!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")

Most Popular Posts from 2015:

1. Why I Don't Watch HGTV (And Maye You Shouldn't Either)

2. Free Art History Curriculum: Edgar Degas (this whole series is popular, but this is the most popular post from the series)

3. How to Kill E.Coli on Vegetables and Fruits

4. No Fail Healthy Pie Crust Recipe

5. Keeping the House Cool in Summer (With and Without AC)

6. 12 Old Fashioned Birthday Party Games for Kids

7. How to Make a SCOBY for Kombucha

8. "I Am..." A Self Worth Craft for Kids

Most Popular Posts of All Time:

1. How to Train Chickens (and Get Them to Do What You Want Them to Do)

2. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

3. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

4. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

5. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

6. How to EASILY Clean Ceilings and Walls - Even in a Greasy Kitchen

7. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

8. Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

9. Freezing Apple Pie Filling

Mar 13, 2015

"I Am..." - A Self Worth Craft for Kids

A while back, I bumped into this post at a blog called Brave Girls Club. My 9 year old daughter struggles with poor self image, so this project really touched my heart. Also, I think it is a terrific project for reminding children who they are in the Lord.

A Self Worth Self Esteem Craft for Kids

The Brave Girls Club version is decidedly feminine, but I wanted to make this is a great project for boys, too. If your boy is like mine, he won't go in for all the "gemstones" and flowers in the Brave Girls example - but boys can use anything else they like to decorate their projects. (My little son couldn't wait to get his hands on the glitter. If I had planned ahead more, I might have also bought stickers of things my son likes or gone out in nature and had him collect objects like leaves that could be glued on as decoration.)

The Brave Girls Club has a free printable for many of the components in this craft, including full color faces to print and upper bodies to go with them. But I wanted my children to get more artistic with this project. I thought about having them draw self portraits from scratch, but my youngest would have only found that frustrating. Instead, I printed off some free blank faces templates that the children could add features to.

The original project was glued onto wood. Wood plaques are available at craft stores (as is Modge Podge, which will glue the elements into place securely), but if you don't want to use a wood board, you could just as easily use a piece of foam board, cardboard, or paper. We used card stock.

The Brave Girls Club used 3D objects like foam letters, buttons, and fake flowers. I love that 3D look, but chose to only use what was already around the house - namely sparkly letter stickers and glitter. You could also add clippings from magazines, if desired.

Finally, I wanted to use words and phrases that were hand picked for my kids. (In fact, when we gathered together for this craft project, I told my children I'd made word lists that I felt especially described them. My daughter read hers with a big smile on her face, and when I read my son's list to him, he glowed!) Because our sense of self worth comes directly from being a child of God, I also wanted to add more words/phrases that point to what the Bible says each of us are. (The Brave Girls printable words/phrases are also pretty feminine, so I wanted to create a set for my son that was a bit more masculine.) If you like, you can download a Word file of my word/phrase sheet - or click here for the .PDF. But you should feel free to make your own word list, too. (Just type the words/phrases into a word processing program, put each in a different typeface and color, and print.)

Most of all, have fun, and encourage your children to see themselves as God sees them!


Feb 20, 2015

Farmer Boy Activities

My children and I took a little break from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series last summer and fall, but as soon as we picked up Farmer Boy, I remembered why it's my favorite in the series. My children and I can really identify with Almanzo and the things he learns working on his father's farm.

Here are some activities I came up with to go along with our reading:

* Do a popcorn and milk experiment

* Try an ice insulation experiment.

* Dye some clothing or fabric using natural dyes. 

* Look at the cost of things in Farmer Boy. Can you compare them with prices today? How much would Almanzo's $200 be in today's money? 

* Eat some apples 'n onions.

* Grow a milk fed pumpkin.

* Make some apple turnovers.

* Do some molasses candy pulling.

* What could you enter into your area's fair? Start now on that project. 

* Set up a rain barrel.

* Make some simple headcheese.

* Make a whistle from a blade of grass. (Also.)

* Whip up some watermelon rind preserves.

* Tap some trees and make syrup. (More tips for tapping non-Maple trees here.)

* Eat some birds' nest pudding.

* Make some easy apple vinegar. (Instead of chopping up whole apples, you may use apple peels and scraps.)

* Color some boy farmer pictures.

* Make some watermelon rind pickles or green tomato pickles.

* Watch a video of the Wilder farm.

* Eat some blueberry pudding.

* Make some Farmer Boy inspired doughnuts.

* Read and learn about the Declaration of Independence.

*  Consider using this free Farmer Boy unit study, including crafts. (Here's another.)

* Make a Farmer Boy lap book. (Or, try this one.)


Little House in the Big Woods Activities
Pancake Men (from Little House in the Big Woods)
Little House on the Prairie Activities
Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party
On the Banks of Plum Creek Activities 
Little Town on the Prairie Activities
Activities for The First Four Years
These Happy Golden Years Activities 
Farmer Boy Activities

Dec 31, 2014

Most Popular Posts - for 2014, and for all time!

The most popular post!
It's always fun for me to see which posts are most popular on this blog. (They are never - never! - the posts I imagine will most interest readers!) Oddly, what shows up as popular depends upon what source I look at; but studying stats from Blogger, Pinterest, and other top sources, it's easy to see which posts are all time favorites and favorites for the year. And since recent months have brought a great many more readers to Proverbs 31 Woman, I thought it would be fun to share these lists with you - especially since many of the posts are from years' past. It's a pretty eclectic list; enjoy!

(P.S. Want to see more popular posts from Proverbs 31 Woman? Check out the Pinterest page "Most Popular Posts at Proverbs 31 Woman.")

Top 5 Posts for 2014:

1. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

2. 10 Things I Learned During Our Tiny House Test Run

3. The Letter of the Week Series, especially Letter R

4. Free Art History Curriculum: Claude Monet

5. Walmart Savings Catcher: Hit or Miss?

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of All Time:

 1. How to Train Chickens  (it completely cracks me up that this is the most popular post among readers!)

2. 6 Ways to Teach Kids the Books of the Bible

3. Best Free Apron Patterns on the Net

4. How to Clean a REALLY Dirty Stove

5. Best Ideas for Upcycling Jeans

6. Canning Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans)

7. Harvesting and Making Your Own Chamomile Tea

8. How Much Money Can You Save Gardening & Homesteading

9. 52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

10. Easiest Fruits & Vegetables to Grow

Dec 1, 2014

Learning More About Christmas Carols this Advent Season

How many Christ-centered Christmas carols do you and your kids know? How many verses to them? Do you and your children truly understand them? This Christmas, I want to instill a better knowledge of  Christmas carols in our family - an activity that furthers our desire to focus on Jesus during the holiday season. Thankfully, accomplishing this is ridiculously easy. Here's how we're doing it:

1. Pick some Christmas carols. Choose them out of your head, or do an Internet search for a list of favorite carols to come up with ideas on what tunes you want to learn more about. Be sure you're picking carols (hymns, or spiritual folk songs) or songs focusing on Christ, not just popular Christmas songs that have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas.

2. Do an Internet search for lyrics - the more verses you can find for each song, the better. There are tons of websites designed just for song lyrics. Any one of them will probably work; here's one that has a nice list of Christmas carols.

3. Do another internet search looking for the story behind the song. This is an optional, but a really interesting addition to this project. We are actually using some books - Ace Collins' Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas and More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Another wonderful resource is Christmas Hymns for a Kids' Heart, which includes a beautifully illustrated book with stories behind Christmas carols, lyrics and vocal lines for the songs, and a CD of the songs. If you want Internet sources, I recommend beginning with "Stories of Famous Christmas Carols and Hymns" or "30 Favorite Christmas Carols - their Origins and History."

4. Now pick one Christmas song, read the story of it's origins to your kids, and read through all the lyrics. Sing the Christmas song at least once a day until everyone knows it well. It's up to you how many verses you memorize. For younger kids, I recommend memorizing one verse, but reading them all the verses and discussing what the words mean.

5. As soon as you know one song well, move on to another!

Jun 3, 2014

Best FREE Paper Dolls for Boys

Both of my children love paper dolls - yes, even my little boy. And I don't mind, because there are some great boyish paper dolls out there, paper dolls are excellent creative play toys, and they are great for developing scissor skills. I usually print them out on cardstock, and they hold up well. I also give the children shoe boxes or shirt boxes (left over from Christmas) to hold their paper doll collections. Also, you can turn any of these into magnetic paper dolls simply by printing on magnetic paper and cutting off the tabs.

To see my favorite paper dolls overall, visit my Pinterest Paper Doll page. But for my favorite boy's paper dolls, look below.

(P.S. Don't want to bother printing out paper dolls? Scroll to the bottom of this page for some great, affordable paper dolls you can purchase.

P.P.S. Some of these sets come with girls and women. I usually give these to my daughter; if you prefer, you can just cut out the boy/man stuff and throw the rest away.)

Best Free Paper Dolls for Boys:

"Boy Paper Dolls" via KatMarie's.
* "Wee Willy:" Cowboy, Indian, baseball player, police man, and more.

* "Boy Paper Dolls:" Pirate, sailor, solider, and more.

* "White Knight:" From Alice in Wonderland.

* "Knight Paper Doll:" With three different suits of armor.

* "Sir Gawain:" Another knight.

* "Friends at School:" Pilgrim costume and more.

* "Dress Up a Halloweenie:" Despite the title, these could just be viewed as generic costumes; pirate, skeleton, and more.

* "Igloo Kids:" Eskimo theme.

* "The Puritan Twins:" After the book, which is free.

* "American Family of the Pilgrim Period:" Father, mother, son, and daughter.

* "American Family of the Civil War Period:" Grandparents, parents, and two boys and one girl..

Space Man via Smart Chicks Commune
* "Paper Dolls of History:" Color your own paper men from ancient times.

* "Space Man:"  Old fashioned astronaut.

* "Film Fashions:" Scottish bagpipe player, pirate, and other historical costumes.

* "King Louis XVI:" Click through the images for other men of the period.

* "Heroes of Fiction:"  Robinson Caruso, Hamlet, Rip van Winkle, Ben Hur, and others.

* "Colonial America:" Man and woman.
Superman via More Puppetry

* "Tiny Littles Paper Dolls:" Cowboy, Victorian gentleman, pirate, and more.

* "Nursery Rhymes:" Boys with Mother Goose outfits (scroll down).

* "Star Trek:" Spock. Click here for complete list of outfits.

* "Super Man:" Also Thor.

* "Color Your Own Superheroes:" Generic, with movable limbs.

Paper Dolls to Purchase for Boys:

* "Jordan the Sports Boy" 90 cents

* "North American Indian Boy and Girl" $4.45

* "Monkey Family Sticker Paper Dolls" $4.46 (There's also "Dinosaur Family Sticker Paper Dolls")

* "Curious George Paper Dolls" $6.26

* "American Pioneer Family Paper Dolls" $6.26

* "George Washington and His Family" $6.26

* "Joey Magnetic Dress Up" $12.22 Made of sturdy wood

May 2, 2014

DIY Seed Tape - How to Make Your Own Seed Tape and Save

How to Make Your Own Seed Tape and Save
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Until this year, I'd never used seed tape. But this spring, I've found it's extremely helpful when gardening with children. Kids (at least mine) want to do it all themselves. But giving a packet of tiny seeds to a young child is just asking for waste, frustration, and not very many plants. On the other hand, seed tape is very easy for children to use, and makes gardening that much more fun.

But seed tape is expensive! It's not unusual to see 7 feet of seed tape to sell for about $7. The good news is, it's cheap and easy to make your own seed tape - and the kids can even help.

What is Seed Tape?

Seed tape is simply a strip of paper with seeds glued to it. To use seed tape, lay the strip in your garden, cover it  with a bit of soil, water, and wait for the seeds to sprout.

Other Reasons You Might Use Seed Tape

Aside from the kid factor, there are a few reasons you might want to use seed tape. For example, its great for when you're planting seeds that are small and difficult to handle - like carrot seeds. By using seed tape, you can plant more precisely and avoid wasting any seed. If you want very neat rows of plants, seed tape is also very helpful. And it can give novice gardeners a better sense of confidence.

DIY Seed Tape

Gather together:

White glue (like Elmer's school glue - the liquidy kind that's white)
Cheap toilet paper (single ply paper is best, but if you have two ply toilet paper, it's fine to separate the layers and use just one ply)
Waxed paper to protect your work surface
Optional: A seed sower or tweezers

Glue holds the seeds in place.

1. Cover your work surface with a layer of waxed paper. This will help prevent the seed tape from sticking to the work surface.

2. Roll out a section of toilet paper. Optional: Cut the toilet paper in half, lengthwise; the idea here is just to use up less toilet paper.

3. Place dots of glue on the toilet paper, using the spacing desired for whatever seeds you are using. (Read the seed packet for specific advice on seed spacing.) You can make just a single row of dots or, if the toilet paper is wide and you want to plant closely, multiple rows.

A seed sower is helpful when dealing with tiny seeds.
4. Carefully place one seed on each dot of glue. If desired, you can place two or three seeds on each dot of glue, to ensure at least one seed germinates on each dot. (Tip: a seed sower is an inexpensive and handy tool for handling tiny seeds. Or, just use tweezers.)

5. Allow the glue to dry. I recommend lifting the toilet paper off the wax paper from time to time, to ensure it doesn't stick. If you will be making seed tape for more than one type of seed, be sure to write the name of the seed (like "carrots" or "Tom Thumb lettuce") on the toilet paper seed tape.

6. To store the seed tape until you're ready to use it, gently roll it and place the tape inside an envelope. Be sure to label the envelope with the type of seed is inside. Keep in a cool, dark, dry location.

8. To use the seed tape, water the garden area well, then lay the tape in the garden, wherever you want the plants to grow. Cover lightly with soil. You're done! The seeds will germinate and pop up through the glue and toilet paper. Don't worry if some toilet paper shows after planting. It will quickly disintegrate.
Watch my video to see how easy it is to make your own seed tape!

Apr 28, 2014

How to Homestead with Children {The Ins and Outs of Homesteading with Kids}

Ma and Pa Ingalls did it. As did thousands of other pioneers in the 18th and 19th century. But just how do you homestead with young children - without driving yourself a little bonkers? It’s a question I’m still trying to answer.

Before I had children, I had endless amounts of time. I had no idea this was the case - but given how much I got accomplished then and how little I seem to get done now, this must be how it was. Now that I have little people to care for, it seems I have zero spare time. Homesteading with children can, I've learned, be utterly exhausting.

Yet my husband and I are working on the homesteading lifestyle especially because of our children. We want them to have the freshest, most nutritious food. We want them to have self sufficiency skills. We want our family to have an outdoor, down to earth lifestyle.

But again: How does one accomplish this with young children underfoot?

After our daughter was born, I planted a vegetable garden as usual, keeping our into-everything baby in her stroller. But by the following year, that wasn’t going to cut it. Our little go-getter wanted to help Mommy. With everything. Fine, I thought. All those old-timey advice books recommend getting children started with chores as soon as possible; I can start teaching her how to garden now! It'll be wonderful!

First, my daughter dumped all the carrot seeds into a single hole. Then she over-watered them, so they floated into the garden’s pathways through the swiftly moving streams she'd created. Later, when a few carrots still managed to come up, she trampled over their tender baby leaves with oblivious little feet.

Homesteading with young children isn’t as easy as Ma Ingalls made it seem.

Now our daughter is 8 – and her little brother, 5. And I’ve learned a bit more about homesteading with children. I still don’t make it look as easy as Ma Ingalls, but each year, we do seem to get more accomplished – and as a family, working together.

Ideas to Try:

* Give each child a small garden or his or her own.
I found giving my daughter a large pot worked better for us than giving her a piece of land. While your child will be in charge of his garden, help him choose seeds wisely. Offer him a selection of easy to grow plants like peas, green beans, and sunflowers. Show your child how to plant, how to water, and how to weed. Then make sure you don’t tend to the garden - even if you fear the garden will fail through lack of attention. A dead garden is an equally good lesson as a thriving one!

* Work on the family garden in short sessions, giving very young children something else to do while you work. Babies and toddlers are fine in a playpen. Slightly older kids can spend a lot of time in a sandbox, with a mud puddle, or digging holes nearby.

* When children are older, teach them simple gardening chores according to their abilities and level of maturity. My children love pulling weeds and feeding them to the chickens. Other good chores include using a watering can and helping to harvest.

* Give children animal related chores. Yes, you will have to make sure they follow through, but kids love animals - and having another creature’s life in your child's hands is a great way to grow her level of maturity. Good jobs include collecting eggs, feeding and watering, and rounding up animals into their houses.

* Keep hand sanitizer near chicken coops, animal pens, and compost bins. Teach your children to use it after touching anything that might contain manure. While you’re at it, teach them to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose, and mouth.

* Let your kids get dirty. Yes, they will track mud and dirt into the house no matter how many times you warn them not to. But getting dirty is a childhood joy and will help instill a love of homesteading in your children.

* Get children involved in the planning process. What vegetables would they like to eat next summer? What fruits? Do they want to raise rabbits? If so, what can they do to help care for them? And will they be willing to eat rabbit meat if you do raise rabbits? (Trust me; that’s an important discussion.)

* Do give children homesteading chores, or you’re likely to burn out. Besides, you want to instill these skills in your kids, anyway. Accept that they will probably not do the job as well as you. But every time they do the chore, they will get a little better at it.

* Allow your kids to eat food straight from the garden as long as they ask first. This is my children’s favorite way to eat their veggies.

* Make it easy for kids to clean up outside. An outdoor sink is a delight, but a hose with soap nearby and a place to put dirty boots is essential.

* Keep children away from potentially dangerous projects. Good examples include canning (although they can help with the prep work, like peeling fruits) or running tillers.

* Don’t neglect to keep part of the yard open as a place for kids to freely run and play. So many people today talk about how useless lawns are, and seem to want to pack their yards with gardens and adult eating areas. But lawns and open space are very useful - nay, necessary! - if you have children.

* It’s tempting to work during children’s naptimes - but don't! If you’re a super mom and really not sleep deprived (Really? How do you manage that??), go ahead. Otherwise, rest during their nap times. You’ll be a better parent – and homesteader – if you do.

* Allow time for your children (and you!) to pet the goats, blow dandelion seed heads, notice wild animals, and generally experience the homesteading life. Study how a cucumber miraculously turns into yummy food after starting out as an unassuming seed; that you must move slowly and calmly to catch a chicken; that dirt feels great between your toes…These are the things too few children get to experience these days. And that’s why you need to homestead with them.

Thanks, Ma Ingalls, for teaching me that.

Feb 19, 2014

52 Simple Sewing Projects for Kids

I've blogged before on teaching children to sew. Not only is it a creative outlet for both girls and boys, but sewing improves fine motor skills and concentration while teaching a useful life skill. However, it can sometimes be a challenge to find sewing projects for kids - or for beginners of any age. So I've compiled some of my favorites, dividing them up between things that can be done by hand (which I recommend for all children under the age of 8) and by machine. Happy sewing!

20 Hand Sewing Projects for Kids or Beginners:

* Drawstring bag. (Depending upon the size, these are great for storing toys, or use one as a girl's purse, or as an overnight-at-Grandma's bag, or as a gift bag)
* Felt key rings.
* Tic-Tac-Toe game
* Sachets
* Felt bookmarks (more here, here, here, here, and here)
* Felt flower brooch
* Tree Christmas ornament
* Handprint scarf
* Ladybug pincushion or toy
* Felt pillows (perfect for dolls or stuffed animals)
* Felt finger puppets (just sew them instead of using glue)
* Braided bracelets
* Cup cozies
* Cloud pillows
* Tissue holder
* Ribbon bookmarks
* Felt scrap bracelets
* Mitten ornament
* Bottle bracelet
* Cloud brooch

20 Machine Sewing Projects for Kids or Beginners:

* Fabric bookmark
* Key rings
* Pocket scarf
* Tea towel and pot holders
* Easy skirt (see this one, too)
* Quilt made of strips of fabric.
* Bandana tote bag
* Pocket organizer
* T-shirt pillows
* Drawstring backpack
* Neck pillow
* Tote bag
* Turn jeans into fun shorts
* T-shirt tote
* Pillowcase
* Sleep masks (sew them instead of using glue)
* Pajama pants
* Jeans leg purse
* Mittens
* Me and My Doll apron kits

12 Projects for Either Hand- or Machine-Sewing:

* Sleeping bag for stuffed animals.
* Bandana quilt or blanket
* Ribbon bugs
* Easy doll dress
* Bandana apron
* Felt pencil case
* Very simple stuffed bunnies
* Easy apron
* T-shirt monsters
* Doll bedding
* Felt animals
* "Softies"

Jan 25, 2014

The Long Winter Activities

The Long Winter is the longest book in The Little House on the Prairie series, and as you read about the struggles of the Ingalls family, it's tough for a modern family to complain about modern life! As you read The Long Winter with your children, try some of these activities.

For more activities that go along with Little House on the Prairie books, click here.

* Make a button lamp.

* Make some hay sticks. (See also.)

* Cook up some ground cherry preserves.

* Prepare homemade cranberry sauce.

* Learn about little auks.
Little auks. (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.)

* Whip up some baked beans.

* Make a green pumpkin pie.

* Make green tomato pickles.

* Learn about muskrat houses.

* Read and study the Declaration of Independence.

* Look up calorie recommendations for men, women, and children. Estimate how many calories the Ingalls were eating each day. What happens when we eat too little or too much?

19th century mowing machine. (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.)
* If you have access to a hand-crank grain grinder (or an old fashioned coffee grinder that you're not worried about damaging) try grinding some wheat berries.

* Learn about 19th century mowing machines.

* Make ginger water (and read about the health benefits).

* Try some cambric tea.

* Learn about DeSmet (includes photos and videos).

* Look through a copy of Pa's "big green book" about animals.

* Do some "handiwork:" embroidery or other needlework, like Laura and Mary did to pass the time.

* Ask your children what would happen if a blizzard or other harsh weather/natural disaster cut you off from the rest of the world. What would you eat? How long would your supplies last? How does the U.S. government suggest families prepare for events like these?

* Remember what Pa said about "modern" conveniences? Ask your child what things we depend upon or want today that Pa might put into that category.

* Learn about frostbite and how to prevent and treat it.

* Find out who Tubal Cain was by reading Genesis 4:22. Also read Daniel 5: 17-24 to learn why Pa called Carrie "Nebuchadnezzar."

* Make a Long Winter lap book.


Little House in the Big Woods Activities
Pancake Men (from Little House in the Big Woods)
Little House on the Prairie Activities
Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party
On the Banks of Plum Creek Activities 
Little Town on the Prairie Activities
Activities for The First Four Years
These Happy Golden Years Activities 
Farmer Boy Activities

Nov 29, 2013

The Busy Mom's Guide to a Super Simple Advent

As much as I love the idea of Advent and how it prepares our hearts for a truly joyous Christmas, I usually find my Advent plans never quite come together the way I'd like. If you're a mom with young kids, easy and simple Advent ideas are the only ones that are likely going to happen. Try some of these:

* Use an Advent book. I just discovered The Family Book of Advent by Carol Garborg, and so far I love it. The Family Reading Bible has a good Advent reading schedule that will work for all but the youngest kids. For young kids, Adriel Booker offers a great Advent reading plan using the superb Jesus Storybook Bible. (Worried about getting any of these books in time for December 1? You can download them to a Kindle, to your computer, or to your smartphone or tablet. You can even buy just the Advent/Christmas portions of The Family Reading Bible, if you like.)

* Don't have the money to buy an Advent book? Use a free reading plan. Thriving Family magazine (along with Adventures in Odyssey) offers a free Advent activity calendar. The Internet is also packed with Advent reading plans you can use with any Bible. Focus on the Family offers a free family reading and activity plans.

Truly, a reading plan like this is all you really need. But here are some nice - but simple - ad-ons:

* Use a chalkboard to count down the days. Kids love this.

* Make a simple Advent calendar. Probably the easiest is to string up folded cards on string or ribbon, something like you see here. (There's no need to make the board that goes along with it - and the cards don't have to be fussy, either. In fact, I suggest enlisting the artistic talents of your children for the cards. Your job will be to write inside the cards.) Don't get fussy with the activities for each day, either. Keep it really simple! Things like "watch a Christmas movie" and "make a paper snowflake" work perfectly.

* If you're using the Jesus Storybook Bible, here's a nice Advent calendar go-with. It may be a bit too much work though. Maybe you can ask Grandma to make it for the kids.

* Check out this list of Advent projects for kids.

* And here's a list of fun activities to go along with your children's favorite Christmas books. Don't get overwhelmed by the list's length. Pick just a few projects that focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and leave it at that!