Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Wednesday PM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we wrote our names on leaves and added them to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. We spotted some snails on the way. Most of us measured thee growth of our individual lettuce at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We watched Mr. Joe harvest hay in the field and pretended we were wild animals. We harvested raspberries in the garden, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. This group stumbled on a bumblebee nest, which had us departing the raspberery patch quickly. Bumblebees can be more aggressive this time of year. We discussed how we had intruded upon their home, which made them upset with us. Fortunately, we all safely made our way from the raspberries and managed to pick enough for us all to still taste them for a snack. We spent time weeding and watering among the tomato vines. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack.

We also cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition.

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We spent some time documenting our discoveries in our journals and closed the day with gratitude. We look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Wednesday AM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we found leaves with our names written on them and added the leaves to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. Most of us measured growth at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We stopped to visit with a gardener, Mr. Don, who showed us vegetables that we can easily see above the ground, including carrots, beets, and potatoes.

We harvested raspberries, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. Some noted that they pull off the bush much easier when they are red. We also spent time weeding and watering in the tomato garden. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack. Farm Sprouts spent time documenting their discoveries in their journals. This group was really interested in plants and we found some really fascinating ones, including Japanese lanterns.

We also cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition. We wonder who has been snacking on the seeds?

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song throughout the morning, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We closed the day with gratitude and look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Tuesday PM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we found leaves with our names written on them and added the leaves to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. Most of us measured growth at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. We had a friendly hen to decided to join us on our walk to the garden!

While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We harvested raspberries, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. Some noted that they pull off the bush much easier when they are red. Farm Sprouts spent time documenting some of their discoveries in their journals when they finished picking. We also spent time weeding and watering in the tomato garden. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack.

We cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition.

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We closed the day with gratitude and look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Tuesday AM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we found leaves with our names written on them and added the leaves to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. Most of us measured growth at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We harvested raspberries, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. Some noted that they pull off the bush much easier when they are red. We also spent time weeding and watering in the tomato garden. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack.

We also cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition. We had a lot of fun hiking through the corn field on the way out of the garden!

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We closed the day with gratitude and look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #1 Wednesday PM

We had a wonderful first day of Farm Sprouts for the fall season! We follow an inquiry-based, project approach to learning in our program. Through this approach, children develop a variety of skills, including scientific thinking, mathematical reasoning, early literacy, and collaborating with others. During the first weeks, we focus on getting to know one another, establishing routines to develop comfort and maintain safety in an outdoor environment, and work to discover the interests of our groups. Our big, essential question for the fall season is, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” We develop driving questions to support our essential question based on the interests of the groups and what is happening on the farm.

It is important that our parents and caregivers sign in and out each day and we also involve Farm Sprouts in the process. They will sign in for the day through an early literacy activity and will also vote. The early literacy activity usually revolves around letter recognition and formation. This week Farm Sprouts stamped their names on craft sticks to be used as plant markers for pots. They signed in by voting for ducks or chickens. Ducks were the popular choice by all of the groups! Voting supports us in finding out the children’s interests and also gives them a voice in what we learn. We essentially create a bar graph and use math to count the number of votes in each column as we work on developing the concept of greater/less than. We often care for our turtle, Coltrane, as a part of our welcome routine as well. Caring for animals supports young children in developing empathy and many other valuable skills.

During our large group gathering, we sang “Buenos días” and a song to help us learn each other’s names. We also talked about languages and how we speak a variety of languages at the farm. Our program includes children who speak Spanish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Korean, and English! We will incorporate basic Spanish in our program as well as some greetings in other languages. It is not only the people at the farm who speak different languages. Everyone giggled when we asked, “What language do cows (and our other various animals) speak?” (Moo!) Finally, we discussed how everyone needs to go potty at farm. We found out where our restrooms are located and had some interesting discussion about our human toileting practices compared to the practices of our animals. What if cows wore clothes and used the toilet?!

We boarded our “Farm Train,” the way we move around the farm to stay safe and together, and made our way through the Children’s Garden. We discovered creatures like bees, grasshoppers, frogs, and roly polies, and worked on using our senses of smell and sight to notice what grows there. Near to the Children’s Garden, we gathered in our outdoor classroom space set up with three Invitations to Play. We explored animal coverings and a sensory table set up as a small world farm, as well as planted lettuce seeds. While working on the farm and what the farm animals need to stay healthy and strong, one child said, “I’m a better farmer than I thought I would be!”

For snack, we tasted broccoli and cauliflower, grown right here at Tollgate Farm! The afternoon Farm Sprouts learn basic food preparation skills to prepare their own snack as a part of Mini Garden Kitchen. The majority of our snack ingredients will be sourced locally on our site with support from our Sustainable Agriculture Program. We involve children in the entire process, including growing, harvesting, preparing, and tasting! These experiences on the farm encourage children to try new foods. Most gave either the broccoli or cauliflower a try and some devoured their serving and asked for more! Nothing beats fresh produce. We each shared our favorite fruit or vegetable. Favorites included broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, oranges, and pears. All were excited to be eating near an apple orchard and expressed a love of apples, so expect to see us devote some time to apples and their life cycle in the coming weeks!

Following snack, we shared in a story. In preparation for our animal chores of the day, we read, “I Went Walking” by Sue Williams or “One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root. We then headed out on a duck hunt! On the way, we dropped off our lettuce pots near to the greenhouse as well as in other locations chosen by the group as an experiment to compare growth. We took a look inside the greenhouse to discover very little growing inside during the fall season. There were pea shoots and some bins of squash being stored inside.

We peeked into a shed to find out where we keep the feed for the ducks and made our way to the pond with a scoop in hand. We quietly approached “the waterfall” and heard some gentle quacking. There we came upon three Pekin ducks! They were a little unsure of us, but were interested in the food and stayed nearby so we could observe. We noted them “nudging their feathers,” as one child stated, and will think about why birds might want to do that as we watch birds and their movements over the season. Farm Sprouts decided they were interested in crossing the waterfall, so we developed a system for crossing and discovered many wonderful living things on the other side, including milkweed beetles, sunflowers, and a pond view that elicited a discussion on sharks and whether they may inhabit the pond (it was decided they do not, since the water was likely not salty.)

We closed the program with a wagon ride around the farm. Ms. Brooke thanked Ms. Melanie and Ms. Marilyn for all they have done to prepare for the season, as well as the operations crew, including Roy Prentice, our Farm Manager, as well as Mr. Joe and Mr. Norb for their incredible support. Also, thank you to Mary Jane for volunteering with us this first week. Ms. Brooke welcomed new families and welcomed back familiar faces as well. Some of our children will be participating in their third or fourth seasons with us between the spring and fall! We look forward to another great fall filled with fun and learning and feel grateful to have you, our families, as a part of our farm community this season! We parted for our wagon ride with the following quote:

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” – David Sobel

 

 

 

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