Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #5 Wednesday PM

Our Farm Sprouts arrived at Tollgate this week to a frosty farm and a chilly nip to the air.  What a change from our hot and humid forest day last week. Apparently, fall has arrived in Michigan.  This week we continued our study of trees and leaves and again pondered one of our big questions for the season. How do plants prepare for winter?  Our exploring and learning this week took place in our MSU Tollgate Arboretum.  An arboretum is basically a large garden where many types of trees are grown for people to enjoy and for scientific study. We feel so fortunate to have this amazing environment and resource to explore and learn in!!!  We were also privileged to spend time in our new Sakura Garden housed within the arboretum overlooking our large pond.  The Sakura Garden is a joint project between the local Japanese community, City of Novi, Oakland County, and MSU.  This garden, opened in early September, includes a Japanese style pavilion and pergola with 17 flowering cherry trees.  In Japanese, “sakura” means cherry blossom which symbolizes the beauty of spring and a time of renewal.  The short lived blossoms are also a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of life.

Our Farm Sprouts started their day by voting for a Sugar Maple or a Beech leaf.  Tollgate forest is composed of mostly Sugar Maple and Beech trees.  We had an opportunity to meet many of these trees in the forest last week. During our sign in we practiced writing our names next to our favorite color leaf.  We continued work sanding our tree cookies, visited and fed our turtle Coltrane, and took turns in both performing and watching our Tollgate Forest Theater.  We discussed our smoothie snack ingredients and all the beautiful colors – green kale, purple beets, orange carrots, yellow pears, red apples, brown cinnamon, and yellow Tollgate honey. Yum! Thanks to Will and Darby from the Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) team for harvesting our veggies.  Farm Sprouts enjoyed watching the colors mix as we blended our smoothie.

When we gathered as a group we continued our discussions and thought about trees, including how they stay healthy, how they grow, and how they might be preparing for winter.  We acted out the life cycle of an apple tree.  We read the story Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and talked about the changing colors outside.  Farm Sprouts have many developing theories about why the leaves are changing colors right now.  We learned to say the word arboretum by clapping its syllables ar-bo-ret-um and explained that today we would be scientists, using a map, to go on a hunt to find different types of trees, leaves, and colors in nature.

Our transition to our outdoor learning environment gave us lots of opportunities to practice our independent dressing skills with warmer clothing needed this week.  Ask your child if they know the “magic” flip trick to help put on jackets.  Our Farm Sprouts gain so much confidence and sense of independence when they learn they can put on their on their own coats and other items of clothing.  We reminded our students again about the importance of “stick”ing together as we travel around our large farm.

On our way to the arboretum we stopped to get duck food and tiptoed and whispered quietly like mice to see if we could find our Tollgate Pekin ducks. We each had an opportunity to pour a little food in the ducks’ bowl. We spotted not only our Pekin ducks but a pair of mallards as well.  Farm Sprouts also observed and heard many Canadian geese flying overhead and swimming in our pond.

We gathered at the Japanese Pavilion to get our maps and collection vessels for treasures we might find on the way.  We consulted our maps and headed out for our hunt.  We visited a small, purplish Japanese maple tree and counted many newly planted cherry trees. Many Farm Sprouts wondered “Where are the cherries”?  We consulted our maps again and touched the trunk of a papery, “peely” Paperbark Maple Tree.  We learned that evergreen trees have needles, not leaves, and they stay green through all the seasons.  We took risks and maneuvered our way through “monster grass” to find tiny pinecones at the base of an evergreen tree with small prickly needles.  One Farm Sprout was excited to find the “picker” tree.  We also visited an evergreen tree with long soft needles.  We battled through more “monster grass” to gather bright yellow Gingko leaves and Sugar Maple leaves in different shades of yellow, orange and red.  Our last task was to use our maps to find a very interesting Japanese Pagoda tree.  One Farm Sprout called this the “grape” tree.  To our surprise, there was a very large acorn shaped vessel at the base of this tree.  Farm Sprouts found a tasty treat of apple fruit leather inside.  We were rewarded for being good scientists and using our maps to navigate the arboretum.  Thanks to the Tollgate 4-H Club for this tasty treat!

We headed back to the Japanese pavilion to have our smoothie snack and journal about the discoveries in the arboretum today.  We also had opportunities to glue different colored leaves and objects on a large mural and create clay sculptures with our collected nature treasures.

Our last task was to visit a few more feathered friends, the chickens. We visited with a hen and had opportunities to touch her feathers and feet. We looked inside the coop and saw the boxes where the hens lay their eggs.  We saw actual eggs in there!

We concluded our amazing day by reading Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  This beautifully illustrated story is about a fox who is very concerned about the leaves falling off his favorite tree.

Thank you to Ms. Nicole Blanzy for joining our program today!

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

 

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #5 Wednesday AM

Our Farm Sprouts arrived at Tollgate this week to a frosty farm and a chilly nip to the air.  What a change from our hot and humid forest day last week. Apparently, fall has arrived in Michigan!  This week we continued our study of trees and leaves and again pondered one of our big questions for the season. How do plants prepare for winter?  Our exploring and learning this week took place in our MSU Tollgate Arboretum.  An arboretum is basically a large garden where many types of trees are grown for people to enjoy and for scientific study. We feel so fortunate to have this amazing environment and resource to explore and learn in!!!  We were also privileged to spend time in our new Sakura Garden housed within the arboretum overlooking our large pond.  The Sakura Garden is a joint project between the local Japanese community, City of Novi, Oakland County, and MSU.  This garden, opened in early September, includes a Japanese style pavilion and pergola with 17 flowering cherry trees.  In Japanese, “sakura” means cherry blossom which symbolizes the beauty of spring and a time of renewal.  The short lived blossoms are also a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of life.

Our Farm Sprouts started their day by voting for a Sugar Maple or a Beech leaf.  Tollgate forest is composed of mostly Sugar Maple and Beech trees.  We had an opportunity to meet many of these trees in the forest last week. During our sign in we practiced writing our names next to our favorite color leaf.  We continued work sanding our tree cookies, visited and fed our turtle Coltrane, and took turns in both performing and watching our Tollgate Forest Theater.  We discussed our smoothie snack ingredients and all the beautiful colors – green kale, purple beets, orange carrots, yellow pears, red apples, brown cinnamon, and yellow Tollgate honey. Yum! Thanks to Will and Darby from the Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) team for harvesting our veggies.  Farm Sprouts enjoyed watching the colors mix as we blended our smoothie.

When we gathered as a group we continued our discussions and thought about trees, including how they stay healthy, how they grow, and how they might be preparing for winter.  We acted out the life cycle of an apple tree.  We read the story Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and talked about the changing colors outside.  Farm Sprouts have many developing theories about why the leaves are changing colors right now.  We learned to say the word arboretum by clapping its syllables ar-bo-ret-um and explained that today we would be scientists, using a map, to go on a hunt to find different types of trees, leaves, and colors in nature.

Our transition to our outdoor learning environment gave us lots of opportunities to practice our independent dressing skills with warmer clothing needed this week.  Ask your child if they know the “magic” flip trick to help put on jackets.  Our Farm Sprouts gain so much confidence and sense of independence when they learn they can put on their on their own coats and other items of clothing.  We reminded our students again about the importance of “stick”ing together as we travel around our large farm.

On our way to the arboretum we stopped to get duck food and tiptoed and whispered quietly like mice to see if we could find our Tollgate Pekin ducks. We each had an opportunity to pour a little food in the ducks’ bowl. We spotted not only our Pekin ducks but a pair of mallards as well.  Farm Sprouts also observed and heard many Canadian geese flying overhead and swimming in our pond.

We gathered at the Japanese Pavilion to get our maps and collection vessels for treasures we might find on the way.  We consulted our maps and headed out for our hunt.  We visited a small, purplish Japanese maple tree and counted many newly planted cherry trees. Many Farm Sprouts wondered “Where are the cherries”?  We consulted our maps again and touched the trunk of a papery, “peely” Paperbark Maple Tree.  We learned that evergreen trees have needles, not leaves, and they stay green through all the seasons.  We took risks and maneuvered our way through “monster grass” to find tiny pinecones at the base of an evergreen tree with small prickly needles.  One Farm Sprout was excited to find the “picker” tree.  We also visited an evergreen tree with long soft needles.  We battled through more “monster grass” to gather bright yellow Gingko leaves and Sugar Maple leaves in different shades of yellow, orange and red.  Our last task was to use our maps to find a very interesting Japanese Pagoda tree.  One Farm Sprout called this the “grape” tree.  To our surprise, there was a very large acorn shaped vessel at the base of this tree.  Farm Sprouts found a tasty treat of apple fruit leather inside.  We were rewarded for being good scientists and using our maps to navigate the arboretum.  Thanks to the Tollgate 4-H Club for this tasty treat!

We then headed to the path that runs between our small pond and large pond.  We enjoyed our smoothie snack and journaling on the deck overlooking the big pond and arboretum.  We concluded our amazing day by reading Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  This beautifully illustrated story is about a fox who is very concerned about the leaves falling off his favorite tree.

Thank you to Ms. Nancy for joining our program today!

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #5 Tuesday PM

Our Farm Sprouts arrived at Tollgate this week to a frosty farm and a chilly nip to the air.  What a change from our hot and humid forest day last week. Apparently, fall has arrived in Michigan!  This week we continued our study of trees and leaves and again pondered one of our big questions for the season. How do plants prepare for winter?  Our exploring and learning this week took place in our MSU Tollgate Arboretum.  An arboretum is basically a large garden where many types of trees are grown for people to enjoy and for scientific study. We feel so fortunate to have this amazing environment and resource to explore and learn in!!!  We were also privileged to spend time in our new Sakura Garden housed within the arboretum overlooking our large pond.  The Sakura Garden is a joint project between the local Japanese community, City of Novi, Oakland County, and MSU.  This garden, opened in early September, includes a Japanese style pavilion and pergola with 17 flowering cherry trees.  In Japanese, “sakura” means cherry blossom which symbolizes the beauty of spring and a time of renewal.  The short lived blossoms are also a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of life.

Our Farm Sprouts started their day by voting for a Sugar Maple or a Beech leaf.  Tollgate forest is composed of mostly Sugar Maple and Beech trees.  We had an opportunity to meet many of these trees in the forest last week. During our sign in we practiced writing our names next to our favorite color leaf.  We continued work sanding our tree cookies, visited and fed our turtle Coltrane, and took turns in both performing and watching our Tollgate Forest Theater.  We discussed our smoothie snack ingredients and all the beautiful colors – green kale, purple beets, orange carrots, yellow pears, red apples, brown cinnamon, and yellow Tollgate honey. Yum! Thanks to Will and Darby from the Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) team for harvesting our veggies.  Farm Sprouts enjoyed watching the colors mix as we blended our smoothie.

When we gathered as a group we continued our discussions and thought about trees, including how they stay healthy, how they grow, and how they might be preparing for winter.  We acted out the life cycle of an apple tree.  We read the story Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and talked about the changing colors outside.  Farm Sprouts have many developing theories about why the leaves are changing colors right now.  We learned to say the word arboretum by clapping its syllables ar-bo-ret-um and explained that today we would be scientists, using a map, to go on a hunt to find different types of trees, leaves, and colors in nature.

Our transition to our outdoor learning environment gave us lots of opportunities to practice our independent dressing skills with warmer clothing needed this week.  Ask your child if they know the “magic” flip trick to help put on jackets.  Our Farm Sprouts gain so much confidence and sense of independence when they learn they can put on their on their own coats and other items of clothing.  We reminded our students again about the importance of “stick”ing together as we travel around our large farm.

On our way to the arboretum we stopped to get duck food and tiptoed and whispered quietly like mice to see if we could find our Tollgate Pekin ducks. We each had an opportunity to pour a little food in the ducks’ bowl. We spotted not only our Pekin ducks but a pair of mallards as well.  Farm Sprouts also observed and heard many Canadian geese flying overhead and swimming in our pond.

We gathered at the Japanese Pavilion to get our maps and collection vessels for treasures we might find on the way.  We consulted our maps and headed out for our hunt.  We visited a small, purplish Japanese maple tree and counted many newly planted cherry trees. Many Farm Sprouts wondered “Where are the cherries”?  We consulted our maps again and touched the trunk of a papery, “peely” Paperbark Maple Tree.  We learned that evergreen trees have needles, not leaves, and they stay green through all the seasons.  We took risks and maneuvered our way through “monster grass” to find tiny pinecones at the base of an evergreen tree with small prickly needles.  One Farm Sprout was excited to find the “picker” tree.  We also visited an evergreen tree with long soft needles.  We battled through more “monster grass” to gather bright yellow Gingko leaves and Sugar Maple leaves in different shades of yellow, orange and red.  Our last task was to use our maps to find a very interesting Japanese Pagoda tree.  One Farm Sprout called this the “grape” tree.  To our surprise, there was a very large acorn shaped vessel at the base of this tree.  Farm Sprouts found a tasty treat of apple fruit leather inside.  We were rewarded for being good scientists and using our maps to navigate the arboretum.  Thanks to the Tollgate 4-H Club for this tasty treat!

We headed back to the Japanese pavilion to have our smoothie snack and journal about the discoveries in the arboretum today.  We also had opportunities to glue different colored leaves and objects on a large mural and create clay sculptures with our collected nature treasures.

Our last task was to visit a few more feathered friends, the chickens. We visited with a hen and had opportunities to touch her feathers and feet. We looked inside the coop and saw the boxes where the hens lay their eggs.  We saw actual eggs in there!

We concluded our amazing day by reading Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  This beautifully illustrated story is about a fox who is very concerned about the leaves falling off his favorite tree.

Thank you to Ms. Carmen for joining our program today!

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

 

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #5 Tuesday AM

Our Farm Sprouts arrived at Tollgate this week to a frosty farm and a chilly nip to the air.  What a change from our hot and humid forest day last week. Apparently, fall has arrived in Michigan.  This week we continued our study of trees and leaves and again pondered one of our big questions for the season. How do plants prepare for winter?  Our exploring and learning this week took place in our MSU Tollgate Arboretum.  An arboretum is basically a large garden where many types of trees are grown for people to enjoy and for scientific study. We feel so fortunate to have this amazing environment and resource to explore and learn in!!!  We were also privileged to spend time in our new Sakura Garden housed within the arboretum overlooking our large pond.  The Sakura Garden is a joint project between the local Japanese community, City of Novi, Oakland County, and MSU.  This garden, opened in early September, includes a Japanese style pavilion and pergola with 17 flowering cherry trees.  In Japanese, “sakura” means cherry blossom and symbolizes the beauty of spring and a time of renewal.  The short lived blossoms are also a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of life.

Our Farm Sprouts started their day by voting for a Sugar Maple or a Beech leaf.  Tollgate forest is composed of mostly Sugar Maple and Beech trees.  We had an opportunity to meet many of these trees in the forest last week. During our sign in we practiced writing our names next to our favorite color leaf.  We continued work sanding our tree cookies, visited and fed our turtle Coltrane, and took turns in both performing and watching our Tollgate Forest Theater.  We discussed our smoothie snack ingredients and all the beautiful colors – green kale, purple beets, orange carrots, yellow pears, red apples, brown cinnamon, and yellow Tollgate honey. Yum! Thanks to Will and Darby from the Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) team for harvesting our veggies.  Farm Sprouts enjoyed watching the colors mix as we blended our smoothie.

When we gathered as a group we continued our discussions and thought about trees, including how they stay healthy, how they grow, and how they might be preparing for winter.  We acted out the life cycle of an apple tree.  We read the story Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson and talked about the changing colors outside.  Farm Sprouts have many developing theories about why the leaves are changing colors right now.  We learned to say the word arboretum by clapping its syllables ar-bo-ret-um and explained that today we would be scientists, using a map, to go on a hunt to find different types of trees, leaves, and colors in nature.

Our transition to our outdoor learning environment gave us lots of opportunities to practice our independent dressing skills with warmer clothing needed this week.  Ask your child if they know the “magic” flip trick to help put on jackets.  Our Farm Sprouts gain so much confidence and sense of independence when they learn they can put on their on their own coats and other items of clothing.  We reminded our students again about the importance of “stick”ing together as we travel around our large farm.

On our way to the arboretum we stopped to get duck food and tiptoed and whispered quietly like mice to see if we could find our Tollgate Pekin ducks. We each had an opportunity to pour a little food in the ducks’ bowl. We spotted not only our Pekin ducks but a pair of mallards as well.  Farm Sprouts also observed and heard many Canadian geese flying overhead and swimming in our pond.

We gathered at the Japanese Pavilion to get our maps and collection vessels for treasures we might find on the way.  We consulted our maps and headed out for our hunt.  We visited a small, purplish Japanese maple tree and counted many newly planted cherry trees. Many Farm Sprouts wondered “Where are the cherries”?  We consulted our maps again and touched the trunk of a papery, “peely” Paperbark Maple Tree.  We learned that evergreen trees have needles, not leaves, and they stay green through all the seasons.  We took risks and maneuvered our way through “monster grass” to find tiny pinecones at the base of an evergreen tree with small prickly needles.  One Farm Sprout was excited to find the “picker” tree.  We also visited an evergreen tree with long soft needles.  We battled through more “monster grass” to gather bright yellow Gingko leaves and Sugar Maple leaves in different shades of yellow, orange and red.  Our last task was to use our maps to find a very interesting Japanese Pagoda tree.  One Farm Sprout called this the “grape” tree.  To our surprise, there was a very large acorn shaped vessel at the base of this tree.  Farm Sprouts found a tasty treat of apple fruit leather inside.  We were rewarded for being good scientists and using our maps to navigate the arboretum.  Thanks to the Tollgate 4-H Club for this tasty treat!

We then headed to the path that runs between our small pond and large pond.  We enjoyed our smoothie snack and journaling on the deck overlooking the big pond and arboretum.  We concluded our amazing day by reading Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson.  This beautifully illustrated story is about a fox who is very concerned about the leaves falling off his favorite tree.

Thank you to Ms. Carmen for joining our program today!

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Brontë

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Wednesday PM

The forest is such a joy to explore. We are so grateful to have 40 acres of sugar maple/beech trees on our site. It is the home of our maple sugaring operation in the winter and Farm Sprouts who didn’t already know quickly discovered that our forest is not ordinary. We have miles of tubing running through the forest to form a system which connects to approximately 250 trees. This system is used to gather sap during the run, usually beginning around the end of February. For now, we enjoy the fruits of our labor during those snowy sugaring days in the form of maple syrup. There is no doubt that the extra “fifth season” on the farm helps with the passing of the long days of winter, a sign that spring is right around the corner. This past week we enjoyed one last burst of summer, with hot and humid weather for our spring and fall tradition of “Forest Day,” a treasured and memorable day for our Sprouts.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts wrote the first letter or their full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. They voted for chipmunks or squirrels, the nut-gathering creatures we often see running around our site. We spotted a few and discovered some places they had taken a break to munch a nut among the hard work of gathering in preparation for winter days ahead. As is tradition, Farm Sprouts prepared binoculars for the hike. One Farm Sprout reported that her dog ate her binoculars from spring season, so she was very happy for a replacement! These “binoculars” are scientific tools our preschoolers use to hone their skills of observation. They also had the opportunity to handle worms, tree parts, and to feed Coltrane, our turtle.

For our gathering, we discussed what is happening with our “Wonder Wall,” recalling past experiences and identifying ways we are working as scientists. We read a book to learn more about what scientists do to connect to our work on the farm. We make observations, take photographs, draw our discoveries, ask questions, and create plans. We share our thoughts, ideas, and current understandings in many different ways!

On our hike to the forest, we stopped to “Hunt the Cows.” This is a very fun song we sing and will revisit. We’ll plan to sing it to you on our last day! We passed our horses, the sugar shack, and a strange-looking, round, white ball. Guesses of what it was included: an eye, a bone, a seashell, and an egg. These are all wonderful guesses and we’ll plan to think more about it coming up. (For our families: It is actually a giant puffball mushroom… and you can eat them! Just be sure to fully research when and how to harvest for safe consumption if you’re interested in foraging for these wild edibles.)

Upon entering the forest, Farm Sprouts commented: “It’s dark in here” and “It’s so beautiful.” The forest is, indeed, beautiful and living in our urban community, we often don’t spend enough time seeking out our forested lands. The wonder and appreciation for this opportunity was evident. Also, to be embarking on such an adventure without a family member provides incredible growth in self-confidence and independence for young children. We’ve spent time building a strong learning community in which preschoolers can assess and take risks to challenge themselves to grow.

Of course, the first activity they requested was to eat popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup on the bridge. We visited the source of our syrup by looking up to the crowns of the sugar maples, giving them our thanks for providing us with this sweet and tasty treat! While they munched, they became the audience for our “Legend of the Sugar Maple,” part of our Forest Theater series (currently in an editing and drafting phase.) It was a big hit, as Farm Sprouts have wondered whether or not trees “die” in the fall and why the leaves fall to the ground. The legend explores the complex process of why some trees, like our maples and beech, are losing their leaves. Why do leaves change color?

With bellies full of our favorite forest snack, it was time to play! We found a place to settle in for some free discovery and interaction with each other and the forest. While we often talk of the cognitive development of young children, it is important to remember this is but one aspect to the growth of a healthy child. Through the program, we strive to meet the needs of the whole child and this includes physical, social, and emotional development. There are times where we stand back and provide careful support to allow children to engage with each other, to develop social and emotional skills. A fallen tree became one of our most popular and valuable catalysts for growth in learning this week, providing a place for climbing, balance, the need to communicate with others to solve conflict and navigate around each other, a place to rest and to document discoveries. More work continued with our tree cookie project as well.

Upon arriving back to the old apple orchard, we gathered to read, The Things That I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth. This book was donated to the program by Ms. Melanie, who has a great passion for trees. Thank you, Ms. Melanie!

We’ll see you next week, during which we will explore our arboretum, visit the new Sakura Garden, and spend time caring for some of our feathery farm animals!

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest.” – Maria Montessori

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