gardening with kids

when they touch the soil and witness something growing from it, they learn how much they are part of this earth..

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Farm and garden work are very much part of our every day life. For one, we are running an organic agriculture enterprise. At the same time, we are growing as much food as we can in our own backyard because we want to eat fresh and healthy all the time. This has rubbed off on our kids, and in fact, they now play a bigger role in tending to our backyard garden.

You might wonder, what kind of gardening work can young children actually do? Pretty much everything, I would say. Our boys’ gardening routine includes one or more of these activities each week.

Sowing seeds. Sowing seeds is their first gardening lesson. This is actually a good activity to improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Some seeds, like lettuce seeds, are really tiny that the boys, with their small hands, will often do a better job at seed sowing than Turo.

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There is also a hidden math lesson, because they are required to count and tally how much of each type of seed they have sown, and how much of those they have sown eventually germinated. Below is a photo of a tray of lettuce seeds the boys planted. Notice that some boxes are empty, meaning germination failed. They need to keep track of how much actually germinated, if they need to plant another batch of seeds, or if the seedlings are enough to fill the space allotted for that particular crop in the garden.

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Preparing garden beds. We grow plants on raised beds so they are more manageable and easier for the kids to tend to. First, the boys collect dried leaves from around our yard. We are blessed to have lots of trees around, which shed lots of leaves almost all year round. They collect fallen leaves in large buckets and then pour these inside the garden boxes. When the boxes are filled, they water it down and then shovel in compost and used coffee grounds. The compost, they make together with Turo, and the coffee grounds they ask from the barista whenever we go to a Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop.

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Plant seeds/seedlings. When the beds are ready, they are ready to plant germinated seeds/seedlings. Below is a bed they recently planted with white corn seeds. Turo will give them instructions on the planting distances (drawn on the whiteboard), as these vary with each type of crop. The boys then complete the work themselves, with minimal supervision.

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Make compost. This is an activity they do with Turo as there is a lot of shovelling and compost turning involved. Their role is mostly to collect freshly cut grass from the university grounds to use as compost material.

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Watering plants. Watering the plants is their daily gardening activity. Ari, who wakes up early, is in charge of watering plants in the morning. Uri does the watering in the late afternoon.

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At this point, they have enough gardening experience to know where they will use the pressurized sprayer (for tiny seedlings) and where they need a sprinkler instead. All watering is done manually, using recycled water from baby’s bath.

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Harvesting. The most exciting part of gardening work is reaping the fruits of their labor. Most of the time, they just want to sell what they grew so they could make money. But of course I always want to eat or cook everything. So when there is surplus, which is not very often given that we have limited growing space here at home, they can sell to their grandparents or relatives who live nearby.

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supplies for our bahaySKUL

Because we homeschool, we do have at home a lot of the stuff the kids need to do school. We don’t have blackboards or lockers, but we do have versions of those stuff in our homeschool. Here’s a peek into the supplies and materials we need for bahaySKUL.

Workbox. Each child has his own workbox where he stores and retrieves everyday school stuff. They also have plastic file boxes where we store curriculum modules and books they are not currently working on or have completed.

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the kids’  workboxes

A child’s workbox contains his pencil case, school I.D., writing pad paper, and drawings that they have not yet filed (they each have a binder where they’re supposed to file everyday artworks and drawings). It also contains his spiral notebook with a checklist of assigned work for the day. All the modules and materials needed for that particular day are also placed inside the workbox for easy access. A child’s pencil case contains sharpened pencils, a 6-inch ruler, twistable crayons, and manipulatives he is using for his current math lesson, i.e. play money, place value cards.

At the start of each school day, a child gets from his workbox all the materials he needs for that particular day. When he is done, he puts everything back into his workbox, so I could check these, before filling his workbox and spiral notebook with new stuff for the next day.

Printer and copier. We have the EPSON ME Office 535 all-in-one inkjet printer. It is a printer, scanner and copier in one, which is immensely useful for printing worksheets and copying tests and readings from our curriculum’s teacher guides. Ink cartridges come in 4 colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), which you need to buy separately and replace as each cartridge run out. These inkjet cartridges use the EPSON Dura-Brite technology which means printouts don’t smudge even if they get wet. This is extremely helpful during spilled milk accidents while the kids study. On the average, we consume one set of ink cartridges per school year.

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our trusty EPSON printer

Paper supplies. Each school year, we stock up on the following:

  • 2 reams of copy paper – 70 gsm, letter size, for everyday printing, and we use the back part for doodling and drawing
  • 1 ream of oslo paper – we cut these out for vocabulary word cards, tape together to make lapbooks, or fold to make minibooks (note: some people use card stock for these purposes, but we find that oslo paper does the job and is much cheaper)
  • drawing paper – the boys get a LOT of sketchpads as gifts, so we peel away a sheet each time we do an art project
  • lined paper – grade 3 writing pad paper, for handwriting practice
  • spelling tablet – for spelling tests and practice
  • tracing paper – we use a lot of these for geography and map work
  • colored/construction paper – we don’t use these often, but is good to have at least a pack on hand

Writing supplies. Basic supplies for writing, drawing and colouring are listed below. We have other writing supplies on hand but these are our minimum requirement for each school year.

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our favorite Muji erasers

  • pencils – the boys usually get these as gifts so we haven’t bought pencils in a long time, also they don’t need a lot as they use the pencils until they get so short they can’t be sharpened (maybe 3 or 4 pencils per child will last through a school year)
  • erasers – we like the erasers from Muji, we buy 2 erasers per child per year, which is enough if they don’t lose it😉
  • red sign pens – these are for me for checking the kids’ work, I use up 4 to 5 red pens each school year
  • whiteboard markers – 2 sets of different colours (black, blue, red), any brand with a fine tip will do
  • permanent markers – 1 set of different colours (black, blue, red)
  • colored markers – we have used these Faber-Castell connector pens for two years and now they’re just starting to run out of ink, I may need to buy finer-tipped markers for the next school year, perhaps some coloured Sharpies😉
  • twistable crayons – 1 set of 8 colours go into each child’s pencil case, the kids like the bright colours of Crayola Twistable Crayons, but I find these break easily, so next year I’ll be on the lookout for a sturdier brand, with my children’s approval
  • wax crayons – we have a jar-full of non-twistable crayons which the boys reach for when they need a colour that’s not on their 8-color pack, i.e. grey, lavender, gold
  • colored pencils – the boys also get a lot of these as gifts, but the brands I prefer are Maped and Faber-Castell
  • watercolor – we use Li’l Hands water-colour tempera paints
  • acrylic paints – someone gifted Uri with black, white, blue, yellow and red acrylic paints and we found these to be enough for all the painting work we do at home
  • oil pastels – we don’t use these often but find it handy to have a box on hand

Filing supplies. We need to keep all schoolwork organized as we will compile them into a portfolio for submission to our affiliate homeschool provider every end of the school year.

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2-ring binder for filing portfolio

 

 

  • Muji 2-ring binders – one 1-inch, and one 2-inch binder per child to store the contents of his homeschool portfolio, tests and score sheets
  • clear file pockets – A4 punch pockets (15-pack) from Muji, to protect artworks and lap books when filed into the 2-ring binders
  • binder rings – to organize vocabulary word cards per subject per module
  • 1 box of paper clips
  • binder clips – 1 pack each of small- and medium-sized clips
  • 1 pack metal brads/round fasteners
  • 1 box staple wires
  • 2 bottles Elmer’s Glue-All white glue (not the school glue version)
  • adhesive tape – 10 rolls 3M Scotch Magic Tape for 1 school year
  • 1 roll clear packing tape – used to tape oslo paper together to make lapbooks
  • folders – we have a bunch of manila and plastic folder that we just recycle every year
  • Post-it notes – I buy a large pack every term which I use to make notes on their books, modules, or worksheets for additional reading, or feedback
  • Post-it flags – I buy 1 pack each year, and recycle old flags that are still sticky, which I use to mark pages that they should read or review

Other supplies/equipment. We are trying to accumulate as much educational tools as we can given a limited supplies budget. So far, these are all that we have but we are keen on buying next a globe, which we couldn’t yet afford last year, and more laboratory equipment for science experiments.

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IKEA foldable trays

  • 2-hole puncher
  • stapler
  • scissors – 1 for each child, and 1 for me
  • sharpeners – 1 for regular pencils, and 1 for colored pencils
  • meterstick
  • IKEA foldable trays – we have 3 of these which come in handy when the dining table, which doubles as our bahaySKUL desk, is occupied
  • microscope – for science projects
  • alcohol thermometer – with Fahrenheit and Celsius readings
  • kitchen scale
  • measuring cups
  • world map
  • Philippine map

 

 

cloth diapering (older babies and toddlers)

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about cloth diapers. I am proud to say that our little boy Ira, who is now 19 months old, is still using cloth diapers exclusively both day and night.

I must say that successful cloth diapering is a hit-or-miss, trial and error process. But, if I could give any word of encouragement to a cloth diapering skeptic, it could be done! Continue reading

our bahaySKUL day (2015-16)

We have already started with our second and final term for this bahaySKUL year. I am pleased to say that we have established a good rhythm to our school days, which keeps us mostly on track to meet our academic goals this year. If you ever wonder what a typical day looks like for us, here’s a peek…

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bahaySKUL midterm review

we try to pick ourselves up from a vacation in paradise and get back into full swing

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We have completed our first term right smack at the end of January. The boys have each taken their midterm evaluation tests at TLP, our homeschool provider – and passed! We had a little ravioli lasagna party to celebrate this success, just the three of us. Continue reading

the daily soup

soup diet, anyone?

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I started a new fad in my household. We now eat soup more times in a day than we have dessert. Not kidding. I love soup. Ari likes soup but only occasionally, like every time we eat out:) Uri hates it. Turo is so-so about it. But hey, I’m the President of my kitchen. I do the grocery and get stuff from the market and pay for takeouts and I set the meal plan for the week. In short, I wield a lot of power over everyone else’s food choices. So one day, I woke up and said, we’re gonna eat soup everyday. And so we did.

Every morning, I wake up, cut up vegetables, simmer them in water, add a pinch of spices, a sprinkle of herbs, maybe some milk or yogurt or cream, grated cheese when I’m feeling fancy, or egg when I’m feeling exceptionally hungry. And then the rest of the pack wakes up to a bowl of soup each, with toast or crackers on the side. That’s what we have for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY for about a month now.

Nobody’s complaining. Who could resist my I-don’t-have-to-fix-my-own-breakfast offer? So y’all might think I’m dragging my entire household into this diet revolution, but there’s more to it than trying to lose pounds or belly flabs.

Why go on a soup diet? Continue reading

wrapping up another homeschool year

It’s been a while since I posted anything about our bahaySKUL activities. Not that there wasn’t much going on, but the opposite. There has been too much going on in our household, and my plate is brimming full with daily routine as well as the random and unexpected.

It has been an exciting bahaySKULyear indeed. We finished Uri’s first grade and Ari’s second grade at about the same time this August. We have submitted our grades, project outputs and the rest of the boys’ portfolio to our homeschool provider. And now, they’re registered as 2nd and 3rd graders for this new school year! Our household has been filled with nothing but the air of triumph for about a week now. Neither the boys, nor I could get over it just yet. This is a family achievement, after all. And yes, we’ve had pizza and Coke way too many times this week! Continue reading

cloth diapering (6 months up)

Cloth diapers to go

My little boy is now 9 months old, and we have been (almost) exclusively cloth diapering for about the same time. Because there are days when deadlines get deadly, and the diaper laundry sits awhile, and I couldn’t get prefolds and covers to dry before the clean ones run out. I confess to having a secret stash of disposable diapers just for these occasions. They get me through very tough times. The rest of the time, though, my baby is on cloth 24/7.

So how does our cloth diaper stash look like right now? Continue reading

slow cooker success

how the slow cooker became my new best bud..

slow cooker seafood pasta

slow cooker seafood pasta

We are 5 months (and counting) without a house helper (the first time in 8 years!). I never imagined I’d be brave enough to fire, perhaps lay off is more politically correct, our house helper of 4 years. But I got to the point when I decided I needed to be in full control of my household and our family life, and that meant cutting off our dependencies on other people. This whole ‘simplifying our life’ has really gotten to me, that many people might think I’m crazy for letting go of our reliable house helper when other families I know are in dire need of one. Continue reading