Activities, Health Habits

Teach Your Kids to Embrace the Outdoors, Ward off Nature-Deficit Disorder

Written by Janice Russell

As a parent, you understand that your children have a right to a healthy and happy life. But should they have a right to nature? Given the growing problems around nature-deficit disorder, many experts believe that spending time outside is a crucial part of childhood development. So, if your little ones are currently devoting too much time to activities indoors, the Farm School shares some resources and tips that may help you spark a love of nature and outdoor exploration.

Educational Outdoor Activities to Try at Home

Just because your kids are having fun outside doesn’t mean they can’t be learning in the process. Here are some at-home activities to prevent NDD and promote learning:

Gardening with Kids: 5 Easy Vegetables to Grow

7 Mind-Blowing Backyard Science Experiments for Kids

Childhood by Nature: We’re Going on a Bug Hunt

Outdoor Activities to Help Kids Explore Nature

If you want your kids to develop a love for nature, you may need to think beyond your backyard. Try these recreational activities to spark an interest in exploring the great outdoors.

How to Introduce Kids to Birding and Nature

A Beginner’s Guide to Family Camping
Tips for Mountain Biking with Children

Nature Ideas for When Children Are Stuck Inside

Whether it’s winter weather or spring showers, sometimes getting your kids outside just isn’t possible. So, here are some fun ways to bring a little bit of nature into your home.

Container Garden Projects Kids Will Love

4 Birdfeeders Kids Can Make

Seed Sprouting … With Kids!

During the Week

Weekends and school breaks offer the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors or learning nature projects with kids. During a hectic work week, it’s harder to do, but you can supplement:

Enroll Your Children in the Farm School

Work Remotely? Commit to a Nature Break During Lunch

Essential Tips for Keeping Kids and Adults Safe in Nature

From your backyard and beyond, the world is filled with natural beauty that can benefit your children. It’s also filled with a few hazards, so keep your kids safe with these resources.

Outdoor Dangers and Safety Tips for Kids

Checklist for a Camping First Aid Kit

How Much Water Should Kids Drink?

Kids need to play outside in order to thrive in school and life! So encourage your children to be more curious about nature and the outdoors, to help them have better health and a better life.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Earth Challenge

Reef Safe Sunblock

Author: Kayla Phaneuf

It probably comes at no surprise that sunblocks and skin care products can contain harmful chemicals that have the potential to hurt not only your skin, but also the wild marine life found in oceans. It is important when going to the beach to only use reef safe sunblock to better protect the ocean and coral reefs: home to fish, coral, and other marine plants. 

Photo by Neha Pandey on

What is a Reef?

Reefs are natural underwater structures made up of corals, which are a type of marine invertebrate (Live Science). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, around 25% of known marine species need the reef to survive. This means coral reefs are an important aspect of the ocean’s ecosystem because fish, invertebrates, sea turtles, and marine plants use the reef as a means of habitat, nutrition and food, and a space for breeding (NOAA)

How Can Sunscreen Harm the Reef?

Sunscreen can contain harmful chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, and many more. The sunscreen, when wet, can melt off into the ocean, lingering in the water, allowing the reefs to absorb the chemicals, causing what is called “coral bleaching.” Coral bleaching naturally does not happen unless the water is extremely hot, but the dangerous chemicals can trigger coral bleaching at a much lower temperature than is organic (Travel and Leisure). Not to mention, the chemicals can also harm fish and other wildlife and can even affect people who eat fish from the ocean that have soaked chemicals into their skin. 

What to Avoid and What to Buy

So what can you do to avoid the more dangerous sunscreens and use sunscreens that are safer for the reef, the animals, and your skin? There are a few ways to identify safer sunscreens. 

  • Read the ingredients list. Avoid sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate. You can also familiarize yourself with the names of other harmful chemicals that might show up in your sunscreen: octocrylene, homosalate, and parabens are some examples (Save the Reef)
  • Look out for nano-particles vs non-nano particles. Nano-particles are more dangerous because they are smaller and more likely to dissolve into the ocean water. Non-nano particles are more beneficial because if they come off the skin, they sink down to the ocean floor and don’t absorb into the water in the same way (Allure)
  • Try Zinc-based products. Non-nano zinc-oxide based skin is not only better for the ocean, but is also better for your skin. Zinc-oxide sunscreen is mineral based, more natural, and works as a layer over the skin instead of sinking into your skin and bloodstream. 

As with anything relating to the environment, it is important to educate oneself and exhibit mindfulness on how one’s actions are impacting their surroundings, their own body health, and the effect they are having on nature. Reef-safe sunblock during the summer visits to the beach is just one small step to bettering the planet and taking care of the environment.

Health Habits

Goat Milk vs Cow Milk: Which Should You Drink?

Author: Kayla Phaneuf

While most Americans have cow milk in their fridge, goat milk is actually the most consumed type of milk in the world! (WebMD) Goats are more accessible and easier to manage for people in other countries compared to cows. How do they compare in terms of health benefits? Is cow milk better for you or is goat milk actually healthier? 

Nutrition Levels

Goat milk contains more protein, fat, calories, and less cholesterol than cow’s milk. While goat milk could be a better benefit to those with high cholesterol, cow’s milk might be a better option for those looking to reduce their calorie intake. Both types of milk are also heavier in different vitamins; for instance, goat milk has more calcium, while cow’s milk has more B12 (PureWow).

Lactose and Digestibility

Milk alternatives are on the rise and many who have lactose issues are turning to almond, coconut, soy, and oat milk. While they can fill the hole in a diet as a tasty substitute, they do not provide the same nutrients or health benefits as an animal’s milk might. Goat milk could be the solution to those who have some trouble digesting lactose. It contains 12% less lactose per cup than cow’s milk (Healthline).

Which is Better?

In conclusion, neither milk is particularly more healthy than the other, but each provides its own form of nutrition in its own way. Depending on the type of nutrients one is specifically looking for their milk consumption to provide, researching the properties of each milk type could be a great benefit to one’s diet and overall health. Sometimes varying the types of milk used in your meals can be beneficial, and it never hurts to try something new! 

Header photo provided by Kaleb Tapp, Unsplash

Earth Challenge

Reusable Grocery Bags

Author: Kayla Phaneuf

Single-use plastic bags can have a drastic effect on the environment. Did you know it could take 500+ years for a plastic bag to decompose in a landfill? (Biological Diversity) The manufacturing of plastic bags is also dangerous because of the pollution the production causes and the use of trees for the product itself. (Forbes) Not to mention, plastic bags that end up in oceans can harm and kill sea animals. 

Americans use 14 billion plastic grocery bags a year and only 1% are returned for recycling. (WM) So what can we do about it? Here are three ways you can reduce your use of plastic bags and create a better environmental impact:

  1. Return your single-use plastics – Because plastic bags are made with plastic film, most local recycling companies do not accept them. Film plastic is difficult to recycle. However, many grocery stores will take back your plastic bags and send them to the recycling companies that can recycle film plastic to create park benches, playgrounds, decks, and many more things. Next time you go grocery shopping and bring home your groceries in single-use plastic bags, instead of storing them under your kitchen counter or in your garage, put them all into one bag and store them in your car. That way, when you return to the grocery store, you already have the bags with you to recycle properly. 
  2. Use cardboard boxes or bins – Stores like Costco and Aldi will reuse the boxes from their food deliveries. Instead of buying new totes and reusable grocery bags, why not use what you already have at home? This is a great way to reuse large cardboard boxes and plastic bins you may have sitting around. Keep your boxes in the back of your vehicle or in an easy place to remember to bring them with you. You can either bring your boxes into the store with you or keep them in your car and unload your groceries from the cart straight into the boxes. 
  3. Bring your own grocery bags – One of the most common alternatives to single-use plastics is to bring your own totes or reusable grocery bags to the store with you. If you’re making a short trip or only buying a few things, this is especially easy because you can carry the bag with you around the store and fill it up. 

Remember, even some of the smallest habit changes can have a positive impact on the environment. Challenge yourself and your family to give up single-use plastic bags and work hard to build habits that will help the longevity of our planet. 

Health Habits

Healthy Habits Challenge- Fruit Desserts

Author: Kayla Phaneuf

Since childhood, we are told that too much sugar is bad for one’s health. While that is true, does that mean all sugar is equally bad for your body? Not necessarily. There are generally two different groups of sugars: natural sugars, which can be found in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains, and added sugars, which are processed or refined sugars added to food items like baked goods, cereal, soda, juice, and yogurt. So why should one prioritize fruit sugars over added sugars? 

  • Nutritional Value

Foods with natural sugars (whole fruits and vegetables) contain additional nutrition: protein, fiber, potassium, and vitamins. This kind of natural nutritional value is not found in processed foods and can benefit your body while also tasting yummy. For example, one normal sized whole orange versus a glass of orange juice has drastic differences in nutritional value: juice contains more calories, less natural pulps and oxidants, less fibers, and significantly more sugar. 

  • Whole Fruits are More Filling

Whole fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges are much more filling than a muffin, cookie, or cereal. This is because the body’s metabolism of processed and refined sugars works differently than when it is breaking down whole fruits. Because refined sugars are not as filling, it makes it easier to consume higher amounts of it due to the cravings it causes; whole fruits are a more balanced way to intake sugar. This week, instead of eating flavored yogurts in the morning chock full of added sugars, try plain yogurt and add fresh fruit and granola to it. This will keep you full for longer and better benefit your health.  

There’s nothing wrong with eating sugary treats every once in a while; balance is key. Awareness of the differences between natural fruit sugars and refined sugars is important and benefits one’s overall health long term. Next time you reach for a sugary snack, try something new and replace the craving with an apple, grapes, or a banana.


The Conversation– If sugar is so bad for us, whis is the sugar in fruit OK?

Healthline- The No BS Guide to Added Sugar

Platejoy- Added sugar vs natural sugar: what’s the difference?

Mindpost- Cut sugar consumption to 5 percent of total daily calories, experts say

Gardening 101

Spring Frost- What to Do?

Uh oh! You just heard there is a late frost and you don’t know what you need to do?

Here is a list of some produce that can handle a late spring frost:

  • Radishes

    Frost Image
    Photo from The Rusted Garden Blog
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Kohlrabi
  • Rhubarb

If you have already planted other vegetables or transplanted plants that can not handle a frost, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, here is what you need to do!

  1. Water your plants thoroughly within a day of the anticipated frost as the moisture in the soil can actually provide additional frost protection.
  2. If you haven’t mulched yet, be sure to cover just the soil with a thick layer (2-3 inches). If your seeds haven’t sprouted yet be sure to uncover or they may not be able to push through later.
  3. Cover your sprouted plants with something light, like a sheet, but be sure not to break the plant. You could put stakes in the corners to lift the sheet up so it doesn’t touch your plants. You can then cover the edges with soil or mulch to keep it from lifting in the wind.
  4. If it’s only a couple plants, you could just cover a small plant with a cup or bucket to create a “greenhouse.”
  5. If temperatures are going to drop below 26 you may want to add a heater.

I hope everything makes it! Good Luck!

Gardening 101, Produce

Starting Seeds in Pots

Got my seeds! Ready to plant in the ground….do be do be do……what do you mean I can’t plant before the average frost? But this packet says I need to plant these 4 weeks before that. So what do you recommend I do?

Well, let me tell you, when you go into that feed store and ask for starter pots you are going to get a ton of choices. Do you want small, medium, large, plastic, decomposable pots, domes, bag of potting soil, heat mats, and grow lights? Then you reconsider the price so you Pinterest DIY and it said you could use eggs, egg cartons, old cans, jars, baby food, heck just throw a potato in a trash can and it’s like magic.

All of this is possible. No one is really wrong, it’s more about how you do it. So here is a basic breakdown of the necessities:

  • Light- 6-8 hours for seedlings. 8-10 hours as they get bigger. This can be natural southern sun in the window or lamp/grow lights.
  • Container with drainage- plastic flats, decomposable pots, eggs, cartons, cans, all fine as long as there is a hole at the bottom for excess water drainage. You don’t want to drown your seeds or cause mold to grow. The size depends on how long and large the plant will be in there to grow. You can always transplant to a larger container later. NOTE: If you are growing vegetables and use eggs there could be pathogens passed so eggs should be bleached clean before use.
  • Water- your soil needs to stay moist (not soaking). A dome over a flat helps keep the moisture in so you don’t have to water as often. Using a spray bottle is best to prevent drowning the seeds. Some even water from the bottom tray and let the water soak up through the pots. If you forget a day and the pot drys completely you can lose the plant.
  • Heat- veggie seeds do not like the cold. Some people get heat pads to improve germination which do really work, but it doesn’t mean you have to get one (they are not cheap.) Keep the seeds in your home or in a heated greenhouse at an average temperature between 60-80.
  • Soil- the magic stuff. Get some potting soil as it has things in it to hold moisture to help with drying out and it’s free of weed seeds. Your dirt outside can sometimes work but unless you have done a soil test to know what nutrients it’s lacking it may not be enough. You will also be bringing in weed seeds that can compete with your babies.

There are the 5 things to focus on. From here you can Pinterest and DIY to whatever your heart desires, just be sure to achieve the above standards for success.


Reinvent Your Rainy Days With These Kid-Friendly Activities

Author: Jenny Wise

Rain, rain go away … or help us make this a fun day! When your kids are stuck inside, it can be hard to keep them entertained. Wouldn’t it be great if you could help them build their minds and bodies? You’re in luck! Here are a few ways you can entertain your kids when they’re spending rainy hours indoors:

Draw Something Fun

 Do you have some paper and pencils around your house? Then you have all you need to create some fun drawings. Drawing is a very relaxing way to pass the time and gives kids a chance to express their creativity. You can check online for steps to draw other kid favorites such as animals, dinosaurs, and cartoon characters. Or just use your imagination and come up with something unique! Kid art is always so free and expressive, and you may just be impressed at what they come up with all on their own.

Want to take your family’s artistic abilities a step further? Rather than simply drawing, use those cardboard boxes that have been piling up, and use a printable template to help your kids create a bulldozer, grocery store, or even a pirate ship! (Just be sure you’re in charge of the cardboard-cutting duties.) They’ll not only have fun creating them today, but their crafts will provide hours of fun the next time the clouds roll in.

 Pick Up or Create an Instrument

 When you’ve had enough of quiet time, let music brighten up your day. Break out the banjo, beat some drums, or play that recorder you have stuffed in the back of the closet. Kids will love learning how to play their favorite songs or being able to pick up new tunes. But what if you don’t have an instrument? You can still create musical joy by using household objects to make your own. Let your kids figure out how to play drinking glasses or build a tissue box guitar. Either way, you’ll enjoy making music as a family.

 Weave Some Stories

 Nothing sets the scene for a good story like a little bit of rain. Take advantage of the atmosphere with a little family storytime. Gather everyone around the living room or a fireplace, and let each person take turns making up their own story. You can make up funny or spooky tales, depending on your mood. You can even make storytime into a game where you build a story together. Have one person start, and then each person can add a sentence or two. You’re bound to be entertained by the wild tales you spin.

 Stretch Those Muscles

 When the kids can’t get outside to play, that energy can cause you stress. Luckily, there are quite a few workouts online that are geared toward little ones. One of the best ways to get their bodies moving and help them relax is a little bit of yoga. Pull up some simple practices online and have them stretch out to their favorite music. Got kids with a lot of energy to burn? Try out a few acroyoga poses or some safe tumbling around the house. You can even get in on the fun and burn some calories yourself. Studies show that kids who exercise regularly are less prone to health problems like obesity, so get moving indoors when it rains outside.

 Have Tasty Fun in the Kitchen

Rainy days are bound to lead to some movie-time fun. Make sure your family is prepared with some healthy and tasty homemade snacks. You can roll out some whole wheat pizza dough and have everyone go through the steps to make their own individual pizza. Want something a little sweeter? Look for healthy baking recipes online that feature fresh fruit, crunchy granola, and even some hidden veggies. Choose recipes that allow them to be creative, and always stress the importance of kitchen and food safety.

Create Your Own Weather Inside

 When the skies are gray outside, try putting together some exciting, educational weather and science experiments inside. Grab a few items, including some dish soap and glitter, to create your own elephant’s toothpaste, or make some colorful rain clouds inside a mason jar. Aside from giving your children a better understanding of the world around them, you are also helping to create essential scientific curiosity.

Don’t let rainy days get you down! Grab your kids and your laptop to find some educational, fun tutorials you can complete inside. When bedtime rolls around, you’ll be thankful that you did!

Photo Credit: Pixabay


Helping Preschoolers Develop Hobbies

Author: Maria Cannon

Preschool is an exciting time. For the first time, your baby is out having his or her first experiences of independence. Your child is developing their own interests and experimenting with those interests. It is the perfect opportunity to start introducing new hobbies to encourage learning and help them build self-confidence as they explore and accomplish.

Music Lessons

Music has so many helpful benefits. In fact, some studies suggest that music can even relieve pain. As far as your preschooler is concerned, listening to music and learning to play an instrument is great for brain development. Music teaches children how to be creative while also refining their math skills, so both side A and side B of the brain benefit.

To get your child interested in music lessons, look for a local school that specializes in teaching children. These institutes often offer introductory classes for preschool-age children where they can touch and experience different instruments and determine which ones they would like to learn. Start with a smaller, entry-level version of their chosen instrument and work toward investing in a better model as your child becomes more serious about this hobby.

Backyard Astronomy

If your family lives in an area unaffected by light pollution, take advantage of your unique position and introduce your child to the exciting world of backyard astrology. Learning about the stars at a young age helps your child grasp the infinite nature of the universe and all its possibilities. Exploring the constellations and other astronomical elements develops a sense of direction and enables complex problem-solving.

To gauge your child’s interest in astronomy, plan a trip to your local planetarium or introduce them to Neil deGrasse Tyson. A telescope isn’t necessary, but it can be helpful and motivating. Before you invest in an expensive piece of equipment, get an accurate read on your child’s interest with these hands-on astronomy activities.

Rock Collecting and Geocaching

Rocks get a bad rap. Sure, on the scale from animal to vegetable to mineral, rocks are the only one that you can’t really eat… but that doesn’t make them boring. Children, in particular, are good when it comes to appreciating our earth’s minerals and what makes them beautiful and unique.

Two great ways to tap into your child’s inner geologist:

Art Classes

If your child comes home from preschool with doodles all over their work, help them channel their creativity with art lessons that give them the skills they need to create the way they’ve always dreamed. Art lessons for kids vary from simple drawing introductory courses to more advanced painting classes. Try signing your child up for a variety of lessons so they can experiment with different mediums while learning how to express themselves.

Science Experiments

Is your child an intellectual explorer? Encourage their interest in STEM subjects by orchestrating various science experiments you can do in the comfort of your own home. There are a plethora of kids’ science experiment ideas online — just look at this Rainbow Magic Milk Experiment. Using whole milk, dish soap and food coloring, your child can learn about chemical reactions while also playing with pretty colors.


As your child enters preschool, their newfound independence encourages them to develop new interests. Help encourage this process by introducing fun and educational hobbies. Music lessons encourage brain development while stimulating both their creative and practical sides. Backyard astronomy helps little kids discover just how big the universe actually is. Rock collecting and geocaching is a hobby for children whose feet are firmly planted on the ground. Art classes help creative children learn to channel their energy and talent. Finally, a fun science experiment is always a good idea for preschool-age children.



 When to plant…

Turnips grow best in a temperate climate but can endure light frost. Fall crops are usually sweeter and more tender than spring crops—and pests are less of a problem.

  • Select a site that gets full Sun.
  • Soil should be well-draining and loosened to a depth of 12 to 15 inches.
  • Mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Till soil well.
  • Start sowing as soon as the ground is workable.
  • Scatter turnip seed. Do not cover the seeds with more than ½ an inch of soil.
  • Once seedlings are 4 inches high, thin “early” types 2 to 4 inches apart and maincrop types to 6 inches apart. Do not thin if growing for greens only.

Length to Mature… 2 months

When to harvest…

  • Harvest some turnips very early as turnip greens.
  • Harvest early types after about 5 weeks; maincrop types after 6 to 10 weeks.
  • Harvest turnips at any size you wish. The small, young turnips are nice and tender.
  • Pull mature turnips before they become woody and before the first frost.

How to select and store…

In the markets look for fresh roots that are small to medium in size (around 2″ diameter), firm, round and impart delicate sweet flavor. Avoid larger as well as overmatured roots as they are woody in texture due to excess fiber content and, therefore, unappetizing.

Once at home, separate the top greens from the root as the greens rob nutrients off the roots. The roots can be stored for a few weeks at low temperatures (32°-35° F) and high relative humidity (95 percent or above). Or you can store for up to 3 or 4 months in a cool outdoor place covered with straw. Use top greens as early as possible since they lose nutrients rather quickly.

How to preserve it…

Freezing Turnips can be sealed and stored for 9-14 months depending on the freezer.

Fun Tip…

Turnips are very low-calorie root vegetables; carry just 28 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless, they are an excellent source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.

Recommended Recipes…