Lifestyle Learning: Join the County Fair for Fun and Education

By Holly Giles | Boy Crafting

county fair for education

As a little girl, the Central Florida Fair was always an exciting time of year. My grandparents lived close by the fairgrounds and every night I could see the lights and hear all the fun. We would go in the evening, when everything was lit up. My favorite was the carousel of horses, holding baby chicks and eating strawberry popovers.

Now that I have children of my own, we enjoy the same tradition of visiting our county fair, but with an educational twist. Five years ago we began using our county fair as part of our curriculum in home education. This sparked the creative side of learning as we delved into sewing, jam making, wood carving, making soap, growing plants and many more handicrafts throughout the year. Then, we enter those items in appropriate categories and age groups.

sewing

The morning of opening day at the fair, all judging takes place. We invite all the grandparents to come see what our boys have been working on during the year. It is a homeschool show and tell. Ribbons have been awarded and special awards such as best in class for each category.

My oldest son, Grayson won the Viers award for boys a few years ago. This is an overall award for most points earned in all categories. He had set that as a goal early in the year as we studied the Little House on the Prairie series. We used that study to tie into the the fair to make a complete year curriculum. As he learned a new skill from the books, we tucked it away in the fair box. At the end of the year, he had made a nine square quilt, candles, carved a wooden truck, sewn pajama bottoms and much more. His work over the year was recognized in a trophy awarded by the fair association.

viers award

As children get older, there are scholarships awarded, speaking opportunities and hands on skills learned that you won’t find any other place. My boys have learned about competition, met other great families and have been exposed to broader opportunities within our community.

If you have not visited your county or state fair in awhile, here is how you can use it to broaden your home education experience.

  1. Check with your county or state fair for their exhibitor handbook for dates, rules and regulations.
  1. Choose one to three categories for your children to enter. Pick one they already have experience in and then choose something new to learn. Even Legos have a category! Whatever you create, there will be a category for it!
  1. Keep a log of arts, crafts and projects your children have worked on throughout the year. Some may be good choices as an entry.
  1. If your family raises small animals, such as rabbits or chickens, consider entering them in the livestock portion. Generally, you are required to know anatomy, history, and the care and keeping of your specific breed, which is presented publicly to a judge. It is a great overall course for children to experience.
  1. Entry applications can be woven into lessons in handwriting and organization. If your children are old enough, have them do this process themselves. It is another layer of being responsible for their own work.

application

I encourage parents to enter too! Is there is a skill you want to learn, or do you have a family recipe that is blue ribbon worthy. Let your children see you working toward a goal right alongside them and share in the excitement.

Take a fresh look at your county fair. Enjoy the ferris wheel, funnel cakes and the educational possibilities for the whole family. The look on your children’s faces when they see their own work displayed for the whole community to see, is priceless, especially if it has a blue ribbon hanging on it!

county fair ribbons

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