This article was originally published by Tiffany Davis  on

You might be like me, a suburbs kid that grew into a love of homesteading and self sufficiency.  That’s ok, better to start late than not at all!  I had the opportunity to learn many of these skills from my grandmothers but didn’t master them.  My grandmother’s weren’t homesteaders but they came from a time when homemaking was done by hand.  It is a lost art my friends.

Maybe you’re asking yourself why we need to teach these vintage skills to kids. It isn’t just so the art of them are lost but our kids deserve to have the ability to care for themselves. We live in precarious times. Modern kids need vintage skills as a matter of survival, sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Here is my list of the vintage skills kids need for homesteading and beyond.  They are in no particular order. Keep in mind the age, maturity and readiness of your child before diving into this list. But keep in mind, also, that in a bygone time kids were doing many of these chores before heading off to elementary school. You know your child best but they also may be more ready than we give them credit for.

  1. Cooking from scratch.
    No boxes, no pre-cooked stuff. Just real, whole, food. Collecting some vintage cookbooks could help in this pursuit as well.
    Additionally teach them to plan meals, eat seasonally and how to follow directions in a cookbook.
  2. Tending and preparing animals for food.
    This may be as simple as tending laying hens and collecting eggs.  Or it may be teaching them how butcher and process a chicken for the table. Don’t shy away from teaching where meat comes from.
  3. Mending and Sewing Clothes.
    Being able to create an outfit from a pattern and cloth is awesome and definitely should be learned and taught.  But simply knowing how to mend/repair clothing and putting buttons back on is practically essential! I think everyone should have a portable sewing kit for these little mends.
  4. Gardening/Seed Saving
    Gardening is one of the easiest things to teach our kids; meaning there is usually very little resistance. Not only is it important
    for growing one’s on food but it teaches patience vs instant gratification.  It also shows them the importance of treating our planet with love and kindness. Furthermore, to paraphrase Ron Finley, kids that grow vegetables, eat vegetables.
    Now don’t forget to teach them about GMOs, heirloom seeds and seed saving.  This knowledge is imperative to their future!
  5. Basic Auto Care and Repair
    Yes, even the girls! Go over how to change a tire, oil, how to jump a battery and any other basic repair you feel comfortable teaching. And show them the time frame for maintenance like oil changes, tune-ups, filter replacements.  Knowledge is power – even if it just keep you from getting taken to the cleaners by a dishonest mechanic.
  6. How to make a budget, saving and paying cash.
    We live in a credit riddled society that constantly lives above its means. I am not pointing fingers, I too have done it and paid the price. There was a time when we saved for big purchases, put money away for a rainy day and never bought on credit.
    Teach your children how to make a budget that includes savings for emergencies, and saving for large purchases. If this isn’t something you’ve been taught can I recommend you find Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class in your area or at least pick up his book Total Money Makeover.
  7. Camping/Hunting/Fishing
    Can your kids split wood, start a fire, build a basic shelter? I learned these skills in girl scouts many moons ago and so thankful for them. But many kids are scouting anymore and still need to have a basic understanding of these skills! Even if you don’t want to hunt, at least take them fishing. Show them what bait works, how to put it on, how to reel in a fish and how to prepare it for the table. You could take this a step further and teach them wild foraging skills. You can’t be too prepared, right?
  8. First Aid/Natural Health Care
    Everyone, including kids, needs some basic knowledge of first aid. I am not talking how to put a band aid on! But how to make a sling. How to close a wound without stitches. What to do if someone goes into shock. CPR!!!
    I also think it is important to teach natural health care, herbal treatments and essential oils. My 9 year old will give you peppermint if you have a headache and lavender for bug bites and itches. She was taught from an early age about oils so it is her first thought, not pills. I’m not saying don’t teach kids about responsible western medicine but don’t stop there.
  9. Food Preservation
    Canning, dehydrating, even freezing. Kids need to be a part of preserving the harvest so they can preserve their own in the future. I don’t recommend little kids jump into pressure canning but they can help dry tomatoes or make their own fruit roll-ups. They can be in the kitchen when you sterilize your jars and pack them for canning. Gage their maturity and readiness for their own hands on lessons; but everyone can watch, listen and ask questions.
  10. Housekeeping
    *Laundry (sorting, cleaning, hand washing, ironing, line drying)
    *Bed making
    *How to fold clothes, sheets, towels, etc.
    *Daily cleaning vs seasonal vs occasional
    *How to clean
    *Basic home maintenance like when to change a filter, gutter cleaning, unclogging a toilet or drain, etc
    *How to make laundry soap and other household cleaners
  11. Taking it a step further! 
    A few other skills you may want to consider teaching your kids:
    *Reuse / Recycle / Re-purpose
    *Finding bargains
    *Organizing (house, bills, calendar)

I hope this list gives you a jumping off point on vintage skills kids need.  I’d love to hear how you’re teaching your kids skills or others you think should be added to the list. Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

Saving our forefathers ways starts with people like you and me actually relearning these skills and putting them to use to live better lives through good times and bad. Our answers on these lost skills comes straight from the source, from old forgotten classic books written by past generations, and from first hand witness accounts from the past few hundred years. Aside from a precious few who have gone out of their way to learn basic survival skills, most of us today would be utterly hopeless if we were plopped in the middle of a forest or jungle and suddenly forced to fend for ourselves using only the resources around us. To our ancient ancestors, we’d appear as helpless as babies. In short, our forefathers lived more simply than most people today are willing to live and that is why they survived with no grocery store, no cheap oil, no cars, no electricity, and no running water. Just like our forefathers used to do, The Lost Ways Book teaches you how you can survive in the worst-case scenario with the minimum resources available. It comes as a step-by-step guide accompanied by pictures and teaches you how to use basic ingredients to make super-food for your loved ones. Watch the video below:


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