Child labor

One of Matthew’s new crops this year was a bean that you grow for the dried bean.  Theoretically, you can grow almost any kind of green bean until the seeds/beans fully ripen and the pods dry, but certain varieties are grown with that in mind.

From time-t0-time, I read a lovely blog called A Life Sustained, where the author, Courtney, writes about creative, Montessori-learning-type activities with real-world objects for her toddler son.  I admire, and am inspired by, her efforts, but I’m not gonna lie, thinking up and carrying out projects like that is not really something to which I aspire.  And, yes, I feel at least a bit of mommy-guilt over this fact.

Last week, I soothed some of that guilt when I stumbled upon bean-shelling as an engaging, real- and natural-world toddler activity.  Perhaps it would be more fair to say that Gabriel discovered it, as it was his initial interest in the pile of dried beans left sitting on the floor.


I grabbed the beans and pulled out a metal cake pan, and we plopped down on the floor and went to work.

It’s pretty amazing what toddlers can do.  At just over two-years-old, Sir has the dexterity to shell the beans, a decent bit of focus to stick with the activity, and the knowledge that the de-beaned pods go in the compost bucket.

He also knows, but sometimes needs to be reminded, that we have to make the dry beans hot (i.e., cook them) before they are good to eat.

Since decent dry beans are relatively easy and affordable to buy, Matthew is debating whether or not to grow this crop in future years.  The toddler-entertainment factor may make the case for keeping them in the rotation.