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Real Life Learning: Insects and Harvests

We had no time for bookwork this afternoon.  Instead, we harvested. 

The children picked two wheelbarrows of tomatoes, all the red and orange ones in our patch.  Then they discovered a tomato hornworm.  It is huge and oh, so beautiful.  I tried to feed it a tomato leaf, but didn’t realize that the horn was at the back end, not the front!  True enough, the other end had a small black mouth!

Tomato Hornworm. Notice the 'face' on its rear end. No wonder I tried to feed it on the wrong end!

From the raspberry patch, where I picked two gallons of raspberries, I supervised the tomato pickers, fed the chickens some old raspberries, and then encouraged the Little Misses to catch grasshoppers.

We are gardeners and chicken growers.  We do not need grasshoppers in the garden, but the chickens like them.  So each grasshopper fed to a chicken is worth 10 cents.  My little girls scampered about in the sunshine, chasing grasshoppers.  Miss 9 caught a huge one and it bit her.  They also found one of the large winged grasshoppers.   There’s so much to learn and see about grasshoppers!

We watched a wasp sucking on a huge, over-ripe raspberry.  Miss 9 tried to knock it off with her finger, right from the back end.  Luckily she did not get stung, but at least now she knows where the stinger is.

While picking and dehydrating parsley, we kept a lookout for pupae of the Black Swallowtail larvae we saw last week, but we did not find any.  At least we now have a dehydrator full of parsley as well as many, many tomatoes.

Drying parsley, and the results our latest tomato picking.

So, no, we did not do any bookwork.  Instead we harvested…and the Little Misses couldn’t have learned more.

(Disclaimer:  My teens did not learn all that much from picking, but it was fun for them anyhow.)

This post is part of the Carnival of Homeschooling over at ?Homeschool Bytes.  For homeschool inspiration click over and enjoy.


  1. Lisa says:

    Wow! You accomplished more with your children harvesting than a day in the books ever could have! 🙂 It sounds like an awesome day!

    My parents can tomatoes every year and it has become a tradition to help them out. I put some photos up on my blog yesterday of the adventure. 🙂

    Hope the rest of your week goes as well!

    Many blessings,

    1. Annie Kate says:

      It was an awesome day, the kind of day that reminds me of the joy of homeschooling. I love such times!

      I’m off to see your canning photos.

      Annie Kate

  2. Mary says:

    Ewww, I can’t stand those hornworms. We have had them in our garden and they are REALLY hard to kill!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      We didn’t kill ours because we only have very few. If we wanted to kill them, we’d feed them to the chickens, I suppose. We call such things ‘chicken candy.’ LOL

  3. angie says:

    Indeed, they did learn! Every day should be as productive. I could see where putting up tomatoes, or whatever you do with that many(!) would also provide many lessons in and of itself.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, freezing, canning, and making salsa is a very educational process, and we usually do it together. Today, however, I canned almost 2/3 of those tomatoes mostly by myself while the kids hurried to finish their schoolwork.

      I bounced back and forth between the kids and the tomatoes and I am SO HAPPY to sit down now! 🙂

      Annie Kate

  4. Ritsumei says:

    Oh my goodness, I need to take gardening lessons from you!

    My friend and I just used an online caterpillar id thing to figure out that she’s also got a tomato horn worm. Only her garden is much smaller than yours and the loss of the tomatoes was making her unhappy. I agree with you: it’s pretty. But she wasn’t so impressed. ;] I’m guessing you’ll be canning all that tomato goodness – enjoy!

  5. Annie Kate says:

    I love gardening and have been doing it for many years…and we have an enormous garden. Bug control is an issue everywhere, though, isn’t it?

    Annie Kate

  6. Julie Coney says:

    WOOOOWWWW that is a TON (literally) of tomatoes! I planted enough plants to get that many , but i have only gotten 4 tomatoes off of my 16 or so plants. Sad gardening day.
    gardening this year taught us patience 🙂

  7. Briana says:

    Whoops, lol! The hornworms are pretty in a way but I don’t like to find them! I only have a tiny feeling of guilt when I direct my 9 year old to feed them to the chickens.

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