Houston, we’ve got a problem.
Fortunately, we’ve got answers. Maryland has about 12,000 farm families. And while farm kids usually have plenty of chores, farm parents feel your pain. The great thing about Maryland farming — besides the food it provides — is the opportunity for your kids to learn about science, math and more in a fun and interesting setting. Here are a few ideas for summer fun:
- Busy mouths are quiet mouths. We’re borrowing two ideas from Food Lion that combine food and play: Build a veggie-stick Jenga and let them attack their snack of Maryland’s Best seasonal and local produce. Or turn them into builders using the cheese-and-pretzel-stick “Lincoln log” idea. Bonus points if you use Maryland cheese!
- Find a you-pick farm and get those little hands busy harvesting blueberries, blackberries or raspberries or whatever else you find on the Maryland’s Best site that is in season near you! Picked too much? Don’t worry. Freeze the extra or make a batch of freezer jam. Let the kids help, and it’s a great lesson in math with measuring and timing the recipe.
- If a kid complains in the woods, can you hear him? Not if that kid’s in the woods at a camp! Check out the offerings from your county 4-H programs or the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, where learning about agriculture makes STEM learning fun!
- Get them to play a game — with a purpose. There are all kinds of jobs in agriculture, including jobs in labs, jobs in technology, jobs that involve working with animals and jobs that involve working with plants … just to name a few! The Maryland Soybean Board has created this game to help kids decide what kind of agricultural career might be good for them!
- Ship ‘em outdoors to tend their own garden. The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s “Grow It Eat It” program has what you need to get you started. Find links to expert tips, get help from the Master Gardeners, and register for classes you can attend to learn to grow your own veggies!
- Buy a watermelon and send them outside to see who can spit a seed the farthest. Just make sure you buy a seeded variety!
- Rainy day or hitting the road and want some peaceful drive time? Try the My American Farm app with multiple online games about food, farming and science. They can even be downloaded to a computer to run offline. There are some great kid-friendly, healthy recipes to try, too!
- Reward them! Maryland has nine dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on-farm ice cream. Get a passport and hit the trail. Ask questions, learn something new and get a stamp at each location for a chance to be crowned Maryland’s 2018 Ice Cream Trail Blazer.
How’d it go? Let us know which solutions you tried in the comment section below!