Permaculture Learning Tools for Kids

Gathering Resources

If you’re a parent and your goal is to learn more about the Permaculture practice but you’re also trying to homeschool and get all the things done in a day that goes with training and raising a family I hope you’ll join our family as we learn to combine the very adult world of Permaculture information with a fun hands on experience for children.

While I never finished Permaculture Student 1 because Matt Powers keeps on coming out with new and exciting things to use in our learning adventure, I thought I’d go ahead and post a few things we’re using as we learn more about Permaculture and how I can get through all of Matt’s great information and scale it down for my kids. Our oldest is 29 years old and he actually introduced us to the Permaculture concept a few years ago via Bill Mollison’s Permaculture handbook. We’ve been on our homeschooling journey for so very long now and this is the first time in this adventure that I’ve decided to put what I want to learn in front of my kids so that we’re learning together and it’s been amazing!

Personally I have so much to learn and the Bill Mollison book is way over my head. Quite frankly so is Matt Power’s Permaculture 2 highschool text  BUT it’s more manageable and while I’m teaching my kids I’m learning the pieces that I’ve missed along the way. So here are some tools we’re using to make this fun and scale it down for younger learners while I still get the full benefit of the deeper information.

Games

On this journey we’re using some fun resources like Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture cards.

We’ve been using these for awhile and today they started recognizing the things we have in our garden. We ate mulberries today from our dwarf mulberry tree which is doing really well after just one year. We planted it by our lemon balm since it belongs to the same guild and they like each other a lot. In the deck there is information about Mulberry trees, guilds, the famous trail blazers in Permaculture etc. Anyway, if you’re at all like me and playing cards with kids that take a long, long, long time to think about their moves gets you a bit restless, these are super fun to read outloud while the kids are thinking! Repetition builds memory and these are perfect, except I think Paul Wheaton should be in the deck even if it’s as the joker. 🙂

Something as simple as playing a game like this allows for teachable moments on math, ascending and descending order, manners and game playing etiquette along with permaculture terms and the people who began sharing their knowledge about the subject.

There are many other Permaculture games out there now and we’re trying to add that to our homeschool budget for the future.

Coloring Pages!

Another cool tool we’re using is the Erik and Lauren Ohlsen coloring book series. With the proliferation of youtube permaculture videos to watch I’ve found the more technical ones that might lose their attention will keep them listening if their hands are busy. We also try to watch them after a busy play or gardening time so they’re a bit tired. We rarely watch tv while eating but I’m finding it very helpful to watch some educational stuff during lunch now. They also can color while I’m reading aloud from the textbook. This way I know I’ll read the whole thing and they ask the best questions! I know they’re listening 🙂

It was really time consuming to search the google universe for the exact coloring page to keep them busy but with this series I can page through and find the one I think fits our theme best.

Our Garden

Lunch with things like this beautiful spinach from our garden. We added cilantro too!

There is no substitute for learning permaculture from the garden. It’s a must even if you’re doing your food growing in recycled buckets on a patio.

Reusable Montessori Resources

I’ve also made and laminated some items from the Montessori Print Shop

I’m pretty good at the animal classifications that fall under the Chordata phylum  but all the living animals haven’t ever interested me. After reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway I became so fascinated with the creatures in the soil and then listening to Matt Power’s talks with Dr. Elaine Ingham sparked my interest even more and I knew if I taught my kids about this I’d be sure to gain greater understanding of the soil food web happening right beneath our feet!

So here in the picture above we have the control chart, which means it’s the “answer key” that the kids begin using to learn the names of the Class, Order, Phylums, and then they’ll move to a blank graph as they learn where each living thing falls in the plant and animal classification systems. This is becoming a really great tool for looking at patterns in nature and defining what those are by bringing in bugs and leaves then talking about which group they’re in and why. It’s a treasure hunt 🙂

We use other fun things like the Good Bug/Bad Bug Montessori activity from Carrots are Orange, and gathered some bugs from our garden. Then there are fun things like this too! Where does it go in the classification system? Where does it go in the beneficial vs pest category?

AND don’t forget dirt! Lots and lots of lovely soil to plant things in like this terrarium that is teaching us about ecosystems 🙂

Story Time

There are an amazing number of new stories out there that teach kids about permaculture and have a great homeschool, family learning feel. We like:

Farmer Phil’s Permaculture

The Magic Beans

The art in this story is all done in water colors using plant based paint!  

Eric Carle

These are adorable classic stories about the garden and hard work!

Outside!

There’s no substitute for hands on learning and actually getting out and discovering the sound, sights, touch, smell and taste of the world around you but on those to wet to play, super hot sun, or freezing (50 degree) Texas days it’s great to have tools that are reusable and fun.

Then there’s this:

Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game is a cooperative game that is super fun. The goal is to go up the hill, pick two buckets of huckleberries and get back to Grandma’s house before the sunsets WITH your whole team. You’re only as fast as your slowest hiker explains this game really well. Some kids find it hard to think in terms of the group winning 🙂 

Creative people in the Permaculture space are putting out new things all the time to enhance children’s understanding of the real world around them.