Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lessons from the Hen House - Review

You can count your chickens before they're hatched! Lessons From The Hen House is all about hands on learning. Even if you don't have a back yard coop, there are plenty of lesson ideas in this clever e-booklet to keep your students engaged. I wish I had thought of this years ago, when I was homeschooling my older children. Carol Alexander seamlessly incorporates math, science, language, literature, geography, art, home economics, business, and research skills into 17 pages of lesson plans, PLUS over 30 vocabulary words, creating a curriculum that can be used with all your students, for a day, a week, or a month, depending on how in-depth you want to go with it.

A few of the ideas will be perfect for homesteading families who have chickens, but most of the lessons are ideal for city-dwellers, too. Pick up a few free hatchery catalogs, or do a quick web search for information. Lots of links are included to other online resources and suggested books to read.

Intermediate and advanced lessons include starting up a related business (real or hypothetical), writing ad copy, designing a poultry catalog, various aspects of running a poultry business, disease, dissection and egg hatching.

Lessons are arranged for easy reference. Elementary lessons come first, then intermediate, then high school, and are grouped according to subject: math, language, science, etc.

This is an awesome resource for 4H or FFA leaders and participants.

All necessary materials are included or linked, with suggested research resources also listed. Plenty of room is left for the parent to add in their own preferred research materials. The booklet can be printed out, or used on the computer or an e-reader that supports PDF. It works great on my iPod with iBooks.

Other materials that might be helpful are: 3x5 cards, pencils, paper, storybooks and reference books on poultry, a magnifying glass and/or microscope for some of the science experiments, eggs, bowl of water, food coloring. I would also recommend visiting the hatchery links and requesting catalogs before beginning the study, especially if your family does not have their own chickens, as they make most of the lessons much easier.

My son was especially interested in the science experiments. He took great pains to examine several feathers under his microscope and sketch his findings. Then he had to test all our eggs for freshness, by seeing if they floated or sank in a bowl of water. We are saving the egg-coloring and crushed eggshell collages for the Easter eggs.

For roughly ten years, Carol and her family have endeavored to ‘live off the land.’ On their modest acreage, they grow extensive gardens and raise various animals for milk and meat. Carol has been homeschooling her 6 children since 1993. 3 have graduated.

Lessons from the Homestead is also a “book in process.” Coming out one section at a time, Carol is producing a full-fledged “learning by living” curriculum centered around life on the homestead. The first section, Lessons from the Seed Catalog has been released and is available at the Lessons From The Homestead website. Lessons From The Henhouse, part 2, is also now available for immediate download at the same site, for only $3.99. Subsequent parts will cover different areas of the farm/homestead. Ms. Alexander offers a 10 day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the lesson plans.

I received a free copy of Lessons From The Henhouse to try out and share my thoughts. No other compensation was received for this review.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Recycling2 - Plastic Milk Jugs

We go through alot of gallon plastic jugs here on the homestead.  We have also found many ways to reuse them, rather than put them in the trash.  Our jugs are usually from distilled water, as we have our own dairy cow and goats.  If you are using juice or milk jugs, be sure to rinse or wash them out thoroughly before reusing, as that leftover liquid can cause a stench.

Refill with drinking water.  We filter our own drinking water, and this way, instead of buying bottled water wherever we go, we just grab a jug of our own.

Water scoops.  Just cut a hole in the top, removing the spout, but leaving the handle intact.  We use these to scoop out our used bath water and reuse it for flushing, laundry or watering the plants.

Grain scoops.  This time turn the jug upside down and cut off the bottom for scooping grain out of 50lb. sacks.  Make sure you leave the cap on. Now you also have a funnel if needed, just remove the cap.

Plant pots.   Cut off entire top.  Poke holes in bottom, fill with planting medium and seeds or plants.

Plant pot holders.  Cut bottom off at desired height to hold a plant pot, so that the jug bottom can catch the water runoff from the plant.

Plant protectors.  Cut off entire bottom.  Remove cap and place top of jug over any new transplants or early seedlings to protect from the elements and help retain moisture.

Change bank.  Fill with loose change daily.  Count and roll when full, then spend on a fun outing.

Drip waterers.  Punch holes 1-1/2 to 2" from bottom around jug.  Place in between rows in garden and fill with water.  Water will drip out slowly, without uprooting your tender seedlings and remaining water will help jug to remain where you put it instead of blowing away.  Refill when water gets down past holes.

Don't just limit yourself to milk or water jugs either.  Look at what you're throwing away.  What else could it be used for?  Why pay $2 or $3 for something from the dollar store when you can repurpose a container that you already have?

These are the main uses we have for plastic milk jugs on our homestead.  With a little reflection, you can probably come up with several unique ideas of your own.