The holidays are over and cold weather has settled in, making it all too easy to relax and ignore doing anything productive. Rather than hibernate your winter away, start the new year off right by spending quality with your family while working on preparedness projects.
We’ve put together a list of 10 preparedness projects your children and grandchildren can participate in. Not only will you have a great time spending time with them, you’ll also benefit your family down the road by being more prepared for a disaster.
Learn to make hardtack – Hardtack is a simple type of cracker thatis inexpensive to make, and when kept dry have an incredibly long shelf life. Hardtack crackers were used in the absence of perishable foods during sea voyages, land migration and other military operations, such as the Civil War. You can find recipes online, however a basic recipe is: mix 5 cups of flour to 1 cup of water that contains ½ tablespoon of salt. Knead dough and roll out to roughly 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch squares and pierce each with a fork several times. Bake at 400-degress for 30 minutes or until slightly brown. To make this fun for children, let them add food coloring or edible glitter.
Homemade survival pet food – If you have a family pet, it’s likely you have already stored emergency pet food with your supplies. After all, most dried pet food has a shelf life of 10+ years. Making your own pet food will save you enough money that you’ll wish you’d started years ago. This is an ideal kitchen project for young children, as you don’t need to follow a recipe as closely as you might with other food items. Decide the type of meat you will use based on availability and pricing at your local grocery store, then find a recipe online or experiment with your own dog food recipe based on this guide: 1-part meat/1-part grain/1-part vegetables. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy this project will be. You can freeze the pet food or make it shelf stable by bottling it. Encourage your children to design labels for an added element of fun.
Homemade survival energy bars – There are numerous free recipes online. Pick two or three recipes and have a bake-off. Make it even more fun with a taste test at the end. When you’re searching recipes, be sure to look for energy bars that have a longer shelf life and are high calorie.
Cold weather survival gardening – This is a perfect project for those who enjoy summer gardening. Spend time researching the best method for your climate, starting with cold frames, row covers, and cloches. If it’s too late to start a winter garden, spend time as a family mapping out your summer garden. The Old Farmers Almanac website has a garden planner tool that older children will enjoy. Include the whole family by letting them vote on which vegetables to plant this year, adding some that you’ve never planted before. Let younger children color their own garden maps and plant markers to keep them interested in the project.
Grow food from scraps – Save money by planting food scraps. There are many foods that can be regrown without seeds, simply by saving the scraps. This is so much fun for children who weren’t aware that food can be regrown, and a brilliant way to teach them about recycling and reducing waste. Take a look at what produce you are throwing away to figure out what can be regrown. For example, romaine lettuce, green onion, celery, carrot tops, and potatoes all can be regrown. The easiest to start will be the lettuce, celery, and green onions. Cut off the parts you will use now, and leave behind a couple inches at the base of each plant. Set in water and watch for new growth. Put your children in charge of checking water levels every day and tracking growth. You can eat the new growth or transfer the plant to soil in warmer weather.
Make newspaper seedling pots – If you have children that love origami or arts and crafts, this will be an enjoyable project for them. Making your own seedling pots saves you money and allows you to recycle newspaper. These newspaper pots will decompose in the soil naturally, which is another great way to talk to children about recycling. You can find instructions or video tutorials online, but a simple method is to use a 10 to 15 ounce can as a guide, with one sheet of newspaper for each pot. Start folding and create a cylinder and base around the can. Once the newspaper pot feels sturdy, remove the can, and fold the edges.
Make a pill bottle survival kit – Most children love making tiny versions of things, use that to your advantage, and help them create tiny survival kits to keep in your family vehicles. Using old pill bottles, you can add items needed to create tiny fire starter kids and tiny first aid kids.
Make DIY survival candles – This is a great project to get your children to finally say goodbye to those broken crayons they seem to hang on to. There are many DIY candle tutorials online, just make sure to use one for survival candles and not scented candles. You want candles that will last as long as possible. Let your children design the candle by gathering old crayons to melt down and add to the candle for coloring.
Crisco candles – Did you know you can use a full can of Crisco to make a candle? This is a fun experiment to share with children, and also teaches them that items around the house have multiple uses during a crisis. Simply use a chopstick to make a hole in the middle of the unused can of Crisco. Use a pre-made wick so the metal end piece will help guide the wick to the bottom of the can. Use the chopstick to work the wick all the way to the bottom, and then remove the chopstick. Don’t worry if the hole seems too big, it will fill in naturally as it burns. As your last step, smooth the top area around the hole with your finger to lock the wick in place.
Evacuation drills – Most preppers have evacuation plans in place, but when was the last time you reviewed them with your family? You may need to make changes based on the age of children and grandchildren in the home. After you’ve made any necessary changes, practice the plan by making it a game. Children will love the competition involved once you turn the drills into the Evacuation Olympics. Include prizes or make your own medals with canning lids, glitter spray paint, and ribbon. This is a perfect preparedness project for a snowy weekend when you want to stay indoors.