Fall Farm Sprouts 2016 – Week 1

We had a beautiful first day of Fall Farm Sprouts! We welcomed back some friends from spring and greatly enjoyed meeting new friends as well. Both groups experienced a similar day of introduction and will be exploring the question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” through the fall season. The groups will vary on how we explore the question as we focus on the children’s interests to develop an inquiry-based program.

The morning group was interested in animals and their coverings, including feathers. After inspecting a feather with a magnifying glass, one child said, “It’s like a leaf.” What an amazing connection!

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The afternoon group became fascinated with seed dispersal after seeing a seed with white fluff attached to it floating in the small pond in the Children’s Garden. We brought it out and inspected it with a magnifying glass. After thinking about it, taking it apart and talking it over, they finally decided it was a seed. During our “duck hunt” around the pond, we found several more seeds with the white fluff, including cattails, dandelions, and milkweed pods. We also had a request to visit the garden, so we’ll continue our exploration of plants during our hike there next week.

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Each class we begin with an early literacy sign-in activity and the chance to vote. This week Farm Sprouts spelled out or write their name on either a red, orange, or yellow leaf to add to a “Mixed Up Fall Tree.” We’re working on developing a sense of community and giving children a voice in the program. In each group, just one child voted for lettuce, making carrots the clear favorite! Often our voting helps us decide where to hike, what to explore, or what to eat the next week.

Farm Sprouts then had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the classroom or join together to make small world farms using aluminum trays with mud, sand, water, straw, lettuce, sticks, bark, small containers as troughs, and farm animals. It was messy fun and interesting to see how their farms were organized.

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We introduced ourselves with the help of a duck puppet, hearing “pato” as the word for duck. We sang, “Buenos días” by José Luis Orozco and practiced our duck-like dance moves to the song, “Be Like a Duck” by Sandra Boynton with egg shakers.

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In our outdoor classroom adjacent to the Children’s Garden, we experimented with the properties of duck feathers, created water color paintings uses brushes and feathers as tools, and examined and matched animal coverings to the animal.

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Our harvest snack featured peaches from Wolfe Orchard in Tipton, MI. They were delicious and some who normally don’t eat peaches gave them a try! The afternoon 4-5 year old group worked on their knife skills and practiced slicing their own peach as a part of “Mini Garden Kitchen,” a new component to the extended afternoon session.

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At the end of snack we made predictions to respond to the question, “What do you think we might see at the pond?” Guesses included turtles, frogs, snakes, ducks, fish, flowers, trees, sharks, and penguins. We then headed out to see what we might find! Our mission was to find ducks though and fortunately, both groups found our flock of nine, white Pekin ducks. Both groups also adopted sunflowers to observe through the season.

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We wrapped up the day with a wagon ride around the farm to give us a sense of who lives on the farm and what it looks like at the beginning of fall. It’ll be interesting to observe the changes which will take place between now and mid-November!

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