We were beyond thrilled to kick-off our first week of the 2019 fall season of our Farm Sprouts program! We have sixty-two preschoolers coming from five Michigan counties to join our farm community. We had a beautiful first week with Farm Sprouts falling into the routines and rhythms of life on the farm. During our first weeks, we focus on building a sense of belonging and community and establishing safety routines through songs, games, and other creative ways to keep us all flowing together as we explore and adventure about the 160 acres at our disposal. Each fall season we investigate the big question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” and each fall we head in different directions based on the interest of the children, teachers, and what is happening on the farm. Thus far, Farm Sprouts have wondered about our visiting geese munching apples, pipevine swallowtail caterpillars munching vines, our new silver appleyard ducks unsure of all of the little faces peering into their fenced area, and so much more. Their questions, interests, and enthusiasm for different aspects of the farm will help steer our adventures in learning in the weeks to come!
Each week, both parents and Farm Sprouts sign in upon arrival. Our sign-in supports building community, developing early literacy skills, and creating agency by incorporating choice and preference into their farm experience. This first week, we voted for honeybees or butterflies. Butterflies were the more popular choice and we were fortunate to spot various species of butterflies during our travels about the farm, from monarchs to cabbage whites. They also personalized their journals, which will be the place in which they document their discoveries on the farm over the course of the season, and explored the classroom before we gathered as a group. In our large group gathering, we sang a song to get to know each other’s names (“Hi-Ho the Dairy-O”) before heading outside.
Once outside, we explored in the Children’s Garden and engaged in our “Invitations to Play,” which included a sensory table with corn, animals, troughs, and scoops, a bin of animal furs to explore animal coverings, and a stick art project in which Farm Sprouts glued craft materials representing various animal coverings (scales, feathers, fur, and wool) on the sticks. You will see these process-based art projects displayed around our classroom. We thought about what covers our own people bodies… skin and hair! We marveled at how wonderfully diverse people and animal skin and hair can be, showing up in all different colors, shades, textures, and lengths. Who else on the farm is covered in skin and hair like us? Why do animals have different coverings? These are questions we will continue to investigate!
Next, we were ready for our harvest snack… tomatoes! We discovered and harvested tomatoes in some of the different places on the farm. Many Farm Sprouts who don’t normally eat tomatoes were adventurous and gave them a try. Some discovered they liked them! We ate all different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be quite diverse in appearance, just like animals. We enjoyed the story, Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode while we snacked.
We wrapped up our day with a wagon ride around the farm. We stopped at the C.S.A field, chatted with our farmers, checked on the sunflowers Farm Sprouts planted in the spring (now so very tall!) and stopped to feed a special snack of frozen peas and watermelon to our ducks. We even had a visit with some of our sheep. We’re so grateful to our Sustainable Agriculture team. They support us with our harvest snack and take the time to interact with Farm Sprouts in their busy days of providing shares of locally grown food for the community. We also have to share our appreciation for our Operations team for all they do to maintain the grounds, buildings and support us in countless ways to make this program possible. Lastly, we want to say welcome to our new staff member, Ms. Jennifer! She is an incredible addition to our team! We look forward to seeing you all next week for more fun and learning at the farm…
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” – Maya Angelou