June 13, 2003

On the farm...Today has been a great day - we took a field trip with our local homeschool group to a nearby historical working farm. The kids had a great time, there were probably about 30 families there - most with multiple kids so we split into smaller groups. Our group had about 9 families and maybe 15 kids, it was a great size for the tour of the farm. We started out with a big group discussion of what the farm was like and it a little history, the farm is over 150 years old and still tries to show what life during that time is like. After the intial talk and outline of the "rules" we were off exploring. Our group started in the garden, where one of the workers, dressed traditionally showed us the garden and talked to the kids about gardening and the types of food grown. Then we walked out to the garden and saw the plants in different stages and as a group we planted a row of corn, everyone got to plant two seeds and the adults filled in the rest. The kids really enjoyed it, even our two year old was able to plant some seeds himself! Then we went to the chicken coop and saw the roosters and learned about some games that kids on the farm - our oldest really enjoyed "where's the slipper" and then they played a version of red light green light and learned some more about playing games (not with toys) on the farm.

Then it was off to the barns, they went into the main barn and talked about the different animals and about storing and using hay. The kids each got to drop some hay down a shoot to feed the animals below. They were getting excited because they were going to see the animals soon. Then they went down in the cellar and learned about the structure of the building and how it keeps the room the same temperature year round. They saw horses and cows in here. They all took turns petting the baby calf and were learning about how animals have children too.

Then it was over to look at the pigs, there was a very large pig napping in the shade that they all surronded and learned about from another worker and they took turns petting the pig. Then it was over to see the baby pigs running around the pigpen and they saw one taking a mudbath. Then over to see the ox - from a good distance with a nice big fence in between them. Then we got to see the sheep and pet a baby lamb and several sheep. They actually got to go into the holding area and this was both kids favorite parts. I couldn't get our two year old to leave his new friends and our daughter is still talking about it, saying the lamb was her favorite part.

Next each child took turns pumping water into buckets from the water spout and washed their hands. We went into the farmhouse and talked about the different roles women and men, boys and girls fufilled on the farm in those days. They learned about the differences between this house and their own, and the different types of chores needed to maintain a house during that time. Then they went into the kitchen and helped sort beans and bake crackers. They saw the old stove and got to roll out dough and grind coffee themselves. The worker taught them all about food on the farm and life in the house. The whole tour was a little over two hours and the kids were so well behaved and continuosly interested, they seemed to really learn alot and enjoy the hands on experiences.

When we returned home they both drew some freehand pictures and stencils of life on the farm and what they experienced. I'll combine that and some of the photos we took into a scrapbook for them later. They are using their animal markers to color and saying which animals are which. I think reading some books about the farm later and maybe a coloring sheet for the younger one and a worksheet for the older about farm animals will round out the day. Overall a great day and alot of fun for everyone.


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