Metamorphosis!

A few weeks ago we found these cute little fellas on the dill.  So we brought them in and continued to feed them fresh dill every day.  After a few days, they each formed a chrysalis.

A few weeks ago we found these cute little fellas on the dill. So we brought them in and continued to feed them fresh dill every day. After a few days, they each formed a chrysalis.

A couple of weeks later, one of the butterflies came out of the chrysalis.

A couple of weeks later, one of the butterflies came out of the chrysalis.

At first they pump their wings to dry them.  We let our butterfly open all the way up and then took him outside to release.

At first they pump their wings to dry them. We let our butterfly open all the way up and then took him outside to release.

It was a beautiful black swallowtail.

It was a beautiful black swallowtail.

The kids loved watching the little guy get ready to fly for the first time.

The kids loved watching the little guy get ready to fly for the first time.

Metamorphosis is one of the many amazing things the kids have discovered in the garden. We plant a row of dill and fennel with parsley and flowers to attract caterpillars to watch. It’s an amazing science lesson.

Find a garden and look for some magic, I know you will find some. :)

Finding a Jewel-What to Look for…

For all of you who are parents, finding a daycare that is a perfect fit is not always easy. Quality childcare is not a guarantee. Even if a childcare facility is top of the line, it may not be the best place for your family.

There are many types of childcare that are good. Is education top priority to you or would you rather have a passionate provider who deeply loves your child? Do you want someone who will treat your child like their own or someone who will care for your child in ways you would like them to be cared for? Some providers are open to suggestions, while others think they already know the best way to do things.

I have provided care for many parents who could not be happier with Little Sprouts, and I have also had multiple families who I could not please no matter how hard I tried. They were constantly dissatisfied with something. I think in those cases, our goals just did not line up. I cannot change myself or my beliefs to please people. I do try hard to provide the best quality care I possibly can, but I am not perfect, nor are my parents.

Childcare is personal. Each day I open my home to my families and allow them into my world. If you have another career, can you imagine having 5-7 families come into your home every day? Exposing your family to them and all of your possessions? Letting them see your clutter, and your dust? It’s an intimate relationship and it’s important the people I provide care for are people I trust. On the other side, it’s personal to families. They are not bringing their favorite watch or pillow here for me to care for, they are bringing me their CHILDREN. Human beings that are the very essence of them, the most precious thing in their lives. They have to trust me as well. It’s an extremely important relationship.

One provider may be great at encouraging parents while another may be wonderful at putting children at ease or teaching kids to write their names. Some providers may do lots of crafts with the kids and another may be a great at making the kids smile. We are each unique and we each have our own special skills and talents to offer. Even if someone is an amazing provider, they may not be the right provider for you. We all have flaws because we are human. You have to make sure the flaws your provider has are something you can live with. For me, safety is of utmost importance, I am organized, and crazy passionate about the development of my kids. But I have been told over and over again people do not appreciate my language. I don’t sit around dropping the “f” bomb or swearing around the kids, but I do think the word butt is funny and I might say something else parents may not like. That is me. To me those are not bad words. I don’t lie about it. If that’s a deal breaker, I can understand. I make sure to be honest and transparent about my short comings. Make sure you find the right fit for you and your child so your childcare days can be a positive experience for all of you.

What are some things parents can do to make sure they have the best situation possible?

The most important thing to remember is use your mommy vibe. It’s like spidey sense. It tells you if a situation is good or bad. If you get a bad feeling, run, don’t walk to the next option. Trust your instincts and listen to your heart. God gives moms intuition for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself.

What are some signs to look for when visiting a potential childcare setting?
Are they licensed? This is not always an indicator of quality, but you need to know if they are or not. A license comes with some protection because the provider is being monitored and required to have lifesaving training an unlicensed provider may or may not have. Here in Oklahoma, you can look on okdhs.org and see what your potential provider has been written up for if they are licensed.

Look around and check the childcare area for safety. If you see plug covers or bottles of cleaner lying around, you may want to check elsewhere.

Is there room for the kids to play and explore?

Are there quiet places for kids to retreat to if they are overwhelmed by the group? Is there something soft to sit on?

Does the environment smell like cigarette smoke? Do they have pets? Is your child allergic?

Are they trained in CPR and first aid?

Do they have references you can check? Ask. CHECK THEM! If your provider already cares for your friend’s children, ask questions about them. Get to know what others think about the provider so you can be more comfortable leaving your child.

Will they be cared for by the same person each day and for the entire day or is there staff change of some kind? Parents should be allowed to know who is directly caring for their child at all times.

Is there an open door policy? Can you visit at any time? Can you go in any area of the facility if you want to? If there are restrictions on when you can visit, that might be a red flag.

What is their discipline policy? How do they handle potty training?

Will your child receive one on one interaction and attention?

What is the provider’s temperament? Is that a temperament your child will respond well to?

What is the daily schedule? Do they follow it strictly?

Is the provider respectful of children? Respect for parents is important as well.

Children should be encouraged to be independent. Childcare is preparation for school and life. They need self-help skills, confidence and independence to be successful when they move forward.

What are the provider’s values and religious beliefs? Will those be shared with the children? My parents know God is the most important thing in my life. I have had many children over the years whose parents did not believe the way I do and they handled it in their own ways, but I was honest about my beliefs.

Take time for the interview or interviews. The time you spend in the facility before you start using the care is vital for your own peace of mind. Don’t rush it.
Make sure you have a backup plan in case you need it. Vacations, illnesses, and building problems do happen.

What days is the facility closed?

Pick up early or visit on your lunch break to see what the kids are doing when it’s not regular pick up time. This will help you see a greater piece of the children’s day. Be respectful. If you visit during nap time, be quiet. If you visit during lunch, don’t expect the provider’s full attention, they are busy.

Communication is key to making a provider/family relationship the best it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, give suggestions, or make requests. If all parties are open with each other, the childcare situation will be the best it can be.

Remember to trust your instincts. You know what your child and your family need.

Bird House Gourds!

The seeds that grow into birdhouse gourds are funky looking and amazing. One of the kids said they looked like space ships. Last year we planted some so we could make bird houses. It’s a long process, but a few days ago, we got to finish our houses.
Plant your birdhouse gourd seeds in the spring. They take several months to make fully mature gourds. Each vine will grow several. We planted two plants and ended up with about 30 or so, but according to my research, that is not the traditional yield. The vines need a sturdy trellis and they grow about 15 feet. When the gourds turn from green to brown on the outside, you can cut them off the vine and store them for drying. They need plenty of ventilation as they cure. We laid ours out in the grass and left them in the weather all winter long.
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After they dry for about 6 months, you can soak them in water and scrub the remaining skins off. You can leave them the natural color or paint them. The natural color is tan but they have spots that look kind of like mold. If you paint them, you need to use a paint that will not wash off. You can use house paint, acrylics, oil paints, or we used spray paint because that is what we had.
The gourds are enjoyed by purple martins. They like a 1 ¾ inch hole. I used the drill bit I had. I drilled a hole for the door and smaller holes on top to add a hanger. I made our doors just a little shy of the middle closer to the bottom so rain wouldn’t pour in the holes. You can also drill drain holes in the bottom if you think water might get in.
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After you drill the holes, you can work on getting the membranes and seeds out so the birds will have room to make a nest inside. The kids really enjoyed that part of our project. We shook them into a bucket so we could try to grow them again.
Next I gave the kids acrylic paint pens to decorate their gourds with. If you are trying to attract purple martins, you should paint your gourds white. After they decorated them, I gave them a pipe cleaner to string through the top holes so they can hang them up at home.
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The kids LOVED this project. It took a year, but it was really fun and I’m sure there is a bird out there somewhere that will appreciate each child’s efforts.
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I don’t know if the seeds we harvested will germinate or not, but if you want to try it, send me a message at kckamp@sbcglobal.net and I’ll send you a few to try in the spring!

Peach Yogurt Pops

I love cooking with my kids because they have tons of fun. But it’s also important to cook with kids because it makes them interested in healthy food. A few weeks ago we made these very tasty peach yogurt pops for a treat for our water party. So fun and so delicious.

First I gave the kids a bunch of peaches to cut into small pieces.   3 cups peach pieces

First I gave the kids a bunch of peaches to cut into small pieces.
3 cups peach pieces


Then the kids placed them in the blender so we could puree them.

Then the kids placed them in the blender so we could puree them.


Then we mixed in the other ingredients.   1 cup plain greek yogurt 1/2 cup sugar

Then we mixed in the other ingredients.
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup sugar


We poured the mixture into our popsicle molds and put them in the freezer until the next day.  One of our handles is missing so we used a plastic fork.  If you don't have molds, you can use Dixie cups with a fork or popsicle stick or you can pour your mixture into ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Then insert a popsicle stick or tooth pick through the plastic into the cube tray and freeze.  The plastic holds the sticks up straight.

We poured the mixture into our popsicle molds and put them in the freezer until the next day. One of our handles is missing so we used a plastic fork. If you don’t have molds, you can use Dixie cups with a fork or popsicle stick or you can pour your mixture into ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. Then insert a popsicle stick or tooth pick through the plastic into the cube tray and freeze. The plastic holds the sticks up straight.


These pops are tart, sweet, and extremely refreshing. I recommend you try them as soon as possible.

So mysterious…

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The mystery vine that came up where we planted our green beans and took over the entire bed has been producing cantaloupes like crazy. There are about 40 fruits on there that are bigger than a baseball. Cantaloupes slip from the vine on their own when they are ripe and we have had four slip so far. Several different looking melons have grown on the same vine so I’m guessing that the seed was from a hybrid melon probably from the grocery store.
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I have no idea how it got there, but I would assume in our compost? We have eaten two of the melons and they are great texture, but not very flavorful. The larger ones with the stripes down them are much less flavorful than the smaller ones. It was fun and interesting to let them grow, but not as much fun eating them.
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Have you had any mystery plants show up in your garden?

Garden Open House

Last night at Little Sprouts we held a garden open house for our daycare families. The kids get so excited to show people what they’re doing. So we set a date for them to show off to their families what they’ve been growing. We decided to have a salsa tasting and garden tour this year. We had plenty of great stuff growing so we let everyone choose a few things to take home. We invited all the daycare families and a few friends and neighbors that had mentioned wanting to come see the garden but never had the chance.
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Here is the spread we served.

Here is the spread we served.


We gave away tickets to win this cookbook.  We had also planted watermelon seeds some weeks back and we measured them to see who's grew the biggest.  Each child got to take theirs home.

We gave away tickets to win this cookbook. We had also planted watermelon seeds some weeks back and we measured them to see who’s grew the biggest. Each child got to take theirs home.


We printed out some photos and wrote about them in our journal plus drew pictures of the garden for the parents to see.

We printed out some photos and wrote about them in our journal plus drew pictures of the garden for the parents to see.


We served watermelon/cucumber salsa.  It was not that good.

We served watermelon/cucumber salsa. It was not that good.


We served salsa verde which had roasted peppers and tomatillos in it.  I thought it was really yummy but most of the guests did not like it.

We served salsa verde which had roasted peppers and tomatillos in it. I thought it was really yummy but most of the guests did not like it.


We served a chunky garden salsa that was cooked.

We served a chunky garden salsa that was cooked.


We served my friend's world famous salsa.  It was a cooked and blended salsa.  My oldest child made this recipe up himself and it was the favorite salsa of all.

We served my friend’s world famous salsa. It was a cooked and blended salsa. My oldest child made this recipe up himself and it was the favorite salsa of all.


We served black bean and corn salsa.  I loved it.

We served black bean and corn salsa. I loved it.


There was lots of learning, picking, and exploring.  So fun!

There was lots of learning, picking, and exploring. So fun!


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The open house was so much fun. If you garden with kids, I recommend making a special day to show off what the kids are growing and learning. You’d be surprised how many people are interested and how much fun it is.

Guest Post-Andrea Pommer

I have found a kindred spirit on the internet. She’s a home daycare provider in Indiana that gardens with her kids too! I have been so excited to find a handful of other people who have a passion for teaching their kids to grow food. Andrea has been so supportive and helpful to me as I started this blog. Now she is sharing a post with us. I’m so excited for you to read it, check it out!

Kids and Worms; The Perfect Mix for the Garden
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Over here at my daycare home, we love calling ourselves ‘urban farmers’, but honestly, what is a farm without animals? Though we have been expanding our gardens year by year, we have not yet added those rabbits and chickens that we long for. However, while we wait for the right time for ‘real livestock’, our animal of choice is…WORMS!

Making or buying a worm bin and getting it established is a perfect way to include kids in the garden. And here are some reasons why:

1. Kids. Love. Worms.

2. Worm castings are an incredible addition to your garden beds. Filled with nutrients and beneficial microbes, the castings help your plants grow big, strong, and more able to fend off pests and diseases.

3. Kids get to see how compost works, and how plants come full circle–veggie scraps become nutrient rich compost that then helps grow new seeds into new plants.

4. Worms are a commitment, but an easy one. Kids will be introduced to taking care of ‘livestock’ on a tiny, low-risk scale.

5. Did I mention; kids love worms!!!

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Though there are simple plans online for making your own bin, we took the easy, albeit more expensive route, and purchased a ready-made bin. Since the bin came with everything we needed (except the worms, which we ordered separately), it was less intimidating for us to give this whole worm thing a try.

Now that we are quickly gaining knowledge about the workings of a worm farm, I feel more confident that we could definitely make one from scratch.

There are some days we go all day without even checking on our worms, but inevitably each afternoon someone will want to have a peek, dig their hands gently into the bedding, and pull out a healthy worm or two. We feed them once or twice a week (too much food is a bad thing, we discovered, as it will attract lots of mites), we make sure the bedding is moist but not soaked, and for the most part, we leave them be to silently work.

Our first harvest of worm castings will not be ready until late August at the earliest, as it takes a few months to get a good enough amount to collect. At that point, we will be able to harvest a new batch every couple of months. What we don’t use in the cold months on our indoor plants will come in handy next spring when our soil is ready for some nutrition and new planting!

To see how we faced and defeated our first challenge, click here. It was really not so hard!

Guest Post written for Little Sprouts Learning Garden by Andrea Pommer
Andrea blogs at http://www.littlebigharvest.blogspot.com