Spring Break Camp at MSU Tollgate Farm!

Dear campers and camp families,

Thank you for joining us for a week of Spring Break Camp! We had so much fun meeting new farm animals, sowing seeds, exploring the farm, and learning along side you.

There is no place like a farm in the spring time. We welcomed two new lambs, five kids, and one chick during our week of camp. The Blue Peppers and the Yellow Peppers witnessed the birth of kid goats. All of the pepper groups really stepped up to the task of taking care of the babies and their parents. They milked the goats, bottle fed the babies, collected eggs, changed bedding, and made sure that all of our animals had fresh water and food.

 

We talked about how farmers work to extend their growing season by using greenhouses. We toured the Tollgate greenhouse and saw all of the tiny plants that will soon be transplanted in the field. Campers made their very own greenhouses out of milk jugs, in which they planted basil seeds. Energy from the sun will be enough to keep these greenhouses warm, even when left outside. Campers met some our farm’s hardest workers, red wigglers! We measured, counted, observed, and sorted. Our worms effectively recycle food scraps into nutrient rich castings for our plants!

On Thursday we welcomed Yu Man from Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Together we explored the vernal (spring) pool. We found lots of tiny creatures living in the pool that Yu Man helped us to identify. Many campers had zero reservations about wading in the pool!

Our STEM project this week was bird nests. We watched Mr. President and the First Lady build their Eagle Nest. We studied real bird nests. We went on hikes to look for bird nests. We studied egg and egg models from various birds. Throughout the week campers worked on building their own nests based on what they had observed.

Many more photos can be found on in the Google Photo Album, Spring Break Camp. Thank you all for such a wonderful week! We look forward to seeing you soon 🙂

Sincerely,

Ms. Ellen with the Blue Peppers

Ms. Isabella with the Orange Peppers

Ms. Nicole with the Yellow Peppers

Ms. Darby with the Green Peppers

 

 

 

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Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Wednesday PM

We had a true farm to table experience to wrap up our final week! Farm Sprouts spent time engaging in imaginative play as sugar shack workers, put the finishing touches on our evaporator, worked with our maple playdough, and made butter from heavy cream in preparation for our snack later. We joined to share some of our thoughts about the maple sugaring process, spurred by viewing our Wonder Wall. Farm Sprouts enjoyed reading the book, “Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola, which tells the story through illustrations of a woman who wakes up hungry for pancakes. She preeds to collect eggs from the hens, collect milk from the cow to make butter, and visits a nearby maple sugaring operation to purchase syrup. All activities we can experience here at the farm!

Farm Sprouts were happy to have another ride on the wagon out to the sugar bush. We had a lot to do and wanted to conserve their energy for the work ahead. We showed our appreciation for the forest by falling into yoga tree pose. We learned the word tree in several languages, including árbol in Spanish, shù in Chinese, and 나무 namu in Korean. We sang, “I’m a Big Old Maple” to the tune of “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” We visited the sugar shack, checked on our sap bucket, and spent some time playing in the forest. On the wagon, they had decided to name a now beloved spot in the forest: Stick A-mazing World. So of course we had to return one last time this winter! The trees have fallen to form an incredible climbing structure. It’s been a must-play stop during our forest adventures for this group each week since its discovery. The social interaction, experimentation with risk and physical strength and abilities, imaginative play, and the natural discoveries which occur in this special place are a joy to observe. Hooray for nature play!

On our return, we stopped at the chicken coop. Farm Sprouts peered into nesting boxes to spot and collect freshly laid eggs. Fortunately, the hens had laid more eggs since the morning and we had just what we needed for our pancake recipe! We made a double batch of batter for the afternoon group, meaning we needed 4 eggs!

Once we returned to the Activity Center, we were ready to kick off our pancake celebration! Farm Sprouts spent time journaling some of their thoughts related to maple sugaring or other topics. We read the story, “Pancakes, Pancakes!” by Eric Carle. We listened to songs about pancakes and maple sugaring. Farm Sprouts helped add ingredients, including honey and eggs from the farm. The buckwheat was ground fresh for the batter.

Papa Jim’s Pancakes (from Ms. Brooke’s grandfather)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup organic, all-purpose or pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. honey

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine and warm a skillet. Flip when bubbles appear. Serve with butter and maple syrup! Feel free to listen to some good music (Papa Jim liked country) while you flip and enjoy.

Farm Sprouts were able to eat their pancakes with fresh maple syrup from the farm this season, which included sap from the tree they helped tap!

We see such incredible growth in so many ways in such a short time. It is such an honor and joy to work as guides to support your children in developing socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically. We see them form friendships, take risks, ask insightful questions, and find joy in learning and discovery. We have a few favorite “I statements” we all repeat, which include “I am brave!” “I am strong!” “I am adventurous!” And they were! Lastly, we ask them to promise themselves to NEVER stop asking questions. May their sense of wonder and curiosity continue throughout their lives.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder 

Until next maple sugaring season! Happy Spring!

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Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Wednesday AM

We had a true farm to table experience to wrap up our final week! Farm Sprouts spent time engaging in imaginative play as sugar shack workers, worked with our maple playdough, and made butter from heavy cream in preparation for our snack later. We joined to share some of our thoughts about the maple sugaring process, spurred by viewing our Wonder Wall. Farm Sprouts enjoyed reading the book, “Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie dePaola, which tells the story through illustrations of a woman who wakes up hungry for pancakes. She proceeds to collect eggs from the hens, collect milk from the cow to make butter, and visits a nearby maple sugaring operation to purchase syrup. All activities we can experience here at the farm!

Farm Sprouts were happy to have another ride on the wagon out to the sugar bush. We had a lot to do and wanted to conserve their energy for the work ahead. We showed our appreciation for the forest by falling into yoga tree pose. We learned the word “tree” in several languages, including “árbol” in Spanish, shù in Chinese, and 나무 namu in Korean. We sang, “I’m a Big Old Maple” to the tune of “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” We visited the sugar shack, checked on our sap bucket, and spent some time playing in the forest. It was below freezing and the sap buckets were frozen. We visited with our hardworking volunteers as they hammered the frozen sap loose and emptied buckets.

On our return, we stopped at the chicken coop. Farm Sprouts peered into nesting boxes to spot and collect freshly laid eggs. Fortunately, there were just what we needed for our pancake recipe!

Once we returned to the Activity Center, we were ready to kick off our pancake celebration! Farm Sprouts spent time journaling some of their thoughts related to maple sugaring or other topics. We read the story, “Pancakes, Pancakes!” by Eric Carle. We listened to songs about pancakes and maple sugaring. Farm Sprouts helped add ingredients, including honey and eggs from the farm. The buckwheat was ground fresh for the batter.

Papa Jim’s Pancakes (from Ms. Brooke’s grandfather)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup organic, all-purpose or pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. honey

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine and warm a skillet. Flip when bubbles appear. Serve with butter and maple syrup! Feel free to listen to some good music (Papa Jim liked country) while you prepare and enjoy together.

Farm Sprouts were able to eat their pancakes with fresh maple syrup from the farm this season, which included sap from the tree they helped tap!

We see such incredible growth in so many ways in such a short time. It is such an honor and joy to work as guides to support your children in developing socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically. We see them form friendships, take risks, ask insightful questions, and find joy in learning and discovery. We have a few favorite “I statements” we all repeat, which include “I am brave!” “I am strong!” “I am adventurous!” And they were! Lastly, we ask them to promise themselves to NEVER stop asking questions. May their sense of wonder and curiosity continue throughout their lives.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder 

Until next maple sugaring season! Happy Spring!

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Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #3 Wednesday PM

We awoke to a winter wonderland for our third week of maple sugaring season! The farm was a beautiful sight and a complete contrast to the nearly 60 degree weather we had the week prior. Our weather observations are leading us to notice patterns, such as freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day which cause the sap to flow! Late-winter Michigan weather is certainly variable! Once the temperatures remain above freezing and the buds appear, the flow will be reduced and the composition of the sap will change, causing a more bitter taste that won’t produce the tasty, sweet maple syrup we enjoy on pancakes. Farm Sprouts are curious about sap and have begun to wonder about how and why trees make sap, questions and thoughts spurred by their own curiosity. Wow! These are the roots of the study of tree physiology. Big thinking for young minds!

Farm Sprouts signed in by making letters from their names and exploring maple playdough. It even smelled like maple syrup thanks to the addition of maple extract! There are four grades of maple syrup based on color, clarity, density, and flavor. Our dough also came in four shades.

We continued to work on our Sugar Shack and included some maple sugaring tools and materials, including wood, buckets, drills, tubing, adapters, and spiles. Farm Sprouts loved playing as sugar makers! We also prepared bread dough for our snack and gathering to think like scientists about the maple sugaring process.

Before heading out, we stepped into the workshop to observe the bottling process. Mr. Roy and Mr. Joe answered our questions and explained this important, behind-the-scenes final phase of the process, which most visitors don’t have any opportunity to observe! Farm Sprouts asked some great questions, like “What is a filter?” and “Why does it (the syrup) have to be hot?” Many thanks to our operations for all they do to support us and for allowing us this very special glimpse to help us understand how sugar maple sap becomes maple syrup we can enjoy on our pancakes!

We trekked out to the sugarbush to play, explore, and prepare a snack over the campfire. On the way, we greeted our animals, made snowballs and snow angels, and enjoyed the beauty of the fresh fallen snow. Around the fire, we discussed fire safety and shared ideas about how to play with and use sticks safely. We roasted “Bread on a Stick,” made with our own maple syrup. Many thanks to Shelburne Farms for inspiring our tasty campfire snack! We stopped in the sugar shack to inspect the evaporator. We checked on the tree we had tapped, noting a fair amount of sap in our bucket. We explored all the ways trees help us, providing us with a place to rest, a place to gather, wood for fires, sticks for roasting and building, and more. Some of us spotted four wild turkeys!

Next week we’ll do just that… enjoy making and eating pancakes together from scratch! Surely we’ll all feel a little greater sense of appreciation for all that is involved in the process.

“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.” – Alice Waters

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Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #3 Wednesday AM

We awoke to a winter wonderland for our third week of maple sugaring season! The farm was a beautiful sight and a complete contrast to the nearly 60 degree weather we had the week prior. Our weather observations are leading us to notice patterns, such as freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day which cause the sap to flow! Late-winter Michigan weather is certainly variable! Once the temperatures remain above freezing and the buds appear, the flow will be reduced and the composition of the sap will change, causing a more bitter taste that won’t produce the tasty, sweet maple syrup we enjoy on pancakes. Farm Sprouts are curious about sap and have begun to wonder about how and why trees make sap, questions and thoughts spurred by their own curiosity. Wow! These are the roots of the study of tree physiology. Big thinking for young minds!

Farm Sprouts signed in by making letters from their names and exploring maple playdough. It even smelled like maple syrup thanks to the addition of maple extract! There are four grades of maple syrup based on color, clarity, density, and flavor. Our dough also came in four shades.

We continued to work on our Sugar Shack and included some maple sugaring tools and materials, including wood, buckets, drills, tubing, adapters, and spiles. Farm Sprouts loved playing as sugar makers!

We trekked out to the sugarbush to play, explore, and prepare a snack over the campfire. On the way, we greeted our animals, made snowballs and snow angels, and enjoyed the beauty of the fresh fallen snow. Around the fire, we discussed fire safety and shared ideas about how to play with and use sticks safely. We roasted “Bread on a Stick,” made with our own maple syrup prior to heading out. Many thanks to Shelburne Farms for inspiring our tasty campfire snack!

Back at the activity center, we stopped to observe the bottling process. Mr. Roy and Mr. Joe answered our questions and explained this important, behind-the-scenes final phase of the process, which most visitors don’t have any opportunity to observe! Farm Sprouts asked some great questions, like “What is a filter?” and “Why does it (the syrup) have to be hot?” Many thanks to our operations for all they do to support us and for allowing us this very special glimpse to help us understand how sugar maple sap becomes maple syrup we can enjoy on our pancakes!

Next week we’ll do just that… enjoy making and eating pancakes together from scratch! Surely we’ll all feel a little greater sense of appreciation for all that is involved in the process.

“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.” – Alice Waters

 

 

 

 

 

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