Our toddler is a big part of our homestead. I mean, he’s one of the driving forces behind our successes here.
We strive to grow and raise the most healthy food that we can for him while ensuring that he gets to enjoy this dying lifestyle that most of his fellow peers won’t be fortunate enough to experience.
With each passing day, he gains a new interest on the homestead; currently, at just 2 years old, he is most in love with his chickens and cats; butterflies, eggs, tomatoes, blueberries, and flowers fascinate him to no end, though.
I want to keep that energy going. I want to encourage an understanding of the natural world, to fuel a curiosity for nature and all she provides, and to teach him a wealth of skills that he can carry forward to his own family one day.
How can we, as parents, achieve that? By providing him with fun, educational activities that satisfy his curiosity while simultaneously entertaining him with wonder and excitement, of course!
5 Exciting Homestead Activities for An Adventurous Toddler
Toddler Mini Garden
Toddlers love getting dirty. Gardens have plenty of dirt, water, mud, bugs, grass, and rocks, so it’s the perfect opportunity for a rambunctious toddler to get creative. If you aren’t sure where to start, pick a 4’ by 4’ patch of land, help your toddler prepare it, and let the child pick out some seeds!
If your toddler doesn’t seem to know what he/she wants to plant, try picking some of his/her favorite foods, flowers, or herbs to plant. Opting for the mini, dwarf, container, or micro varieties makes it easier to weed the garden. It also allows you to fit several plants into a small space, and the plants stay “toddler-sized” so that the harvest is within reach.
Then again, you might just wind up with a somewhat “planted” toddler that is rolling a few hundred carrots, corn, and tomato seeds into a clay-based multi-grain ball; you’ll still get an “A” for effort though, and you can always secretly finish the garden when he or she isn’t looking!
If you have a fertile flock on the homestead, why not fire up the incubator for an exciting learning experience for your toddler? Our son loves babies of all kinds; seeing the developing chicks is exciting! Once the eggs begin to develop, try showing the toddler the different stages of development up until lockdown.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the first signs of hatching; when you see an egg pipping, ask your toddler to go check on the eggs. Watch as he or she comes running, proudly (and loudly!) announcing the big news! This is a wonderful way to introduce toddlers to the circle of life.
Building a Solar Oven
Cooking food with solar energy can be slow, but it’s fun! There’s just something about a solar oven that makes cooking much less mundane. This is an excellent way to demonstrate the sun’s heat, energy, and power; while you’re at it, you could put some freshly harvested veggies and herbs from the toddler garden inside with a few eggs; a delicious, nutritious lunch that can take advantage of the sun at its highest point.
Of course, not all homes have a solar oven that’s ready to rock & roll. Luckily, they are an easy and fun DIY project, something that the toddler can take part in. As you build the oven, be sure to explain how the different parts work.
Making Simple Cheese
Toddlers and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. Nearly any toddler will devour his or her weight in cheese; so why not show them how it’s made? With a few gallons of milk, some rennet (or vinegar!), and a bit of salt, you can make delicious cheese.
Mozzarella cheese is among the easiest to make, so it’s a great starting point. Your toddler can help to pour the milk, read the temperature of the milk, help to separate the curd and whey. He or she can even help to strain the cheese with cheesecloth. The entire process is absolutely fascinating. Especially for the growing minds of children that have never seen it happen right before their eyes. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even use the cheese to make zucchini pizzas out of zucchini slices (my son loves these) or make a classic homemade pizza.
Grinding Flour and Making Pasta
Just like cheese, pasta is always a hit. Combine the two, and you have every child’s favorite dish: macaroni and cheese. How many children know where pasta comes from, though?
If you’re homesteading, you likely have a coffee grinder or a grain mill. Grind up some wheat berries with your child, make classic pasta dough, and learn how to make different pasta shapes together. There are lots of wonderful tutorials on YouTube. You truly can’t regret having fresh pasta (or macaroni and cheese) for dinner.
This is also a great opportunity to plant wheat in the garden, and show the toddler how many different food items wheat is used for.
Inclusion Is Always the Important Part!
As long as you find a way to include your toddler in your day to day chores, he or she will always have something new to learn. Managing a homestead with toddlers can be painstakingly slow, and you never get as much done as you’d like to… But it’s remarkable and rewarding. Toddlers force you to stop and smell the roses. And they help you to see the everyday magic in life as it unfolds.