It was another brilliant fall day in Michigan to celebrate our last day of Farm Sprouts for the season! We signed in today by sharing a favorite memory or activity to add to our memory mailbox from our experiences at MSU Tollgate Farm. The Welcome Activities included playing our Animal Products Sorting and our Animal Coverings Matching Games. We’ve spent a lot of time making connections between our farm animals and their products through experiential learning. Animal coverings were an important part of our discussions regarding how plants and animals prepare for winter. These games were great ways to observe and have a conversation about Farm Sprouts current understandings as a result of their experiences. As always, our Discovery Table was of interest as well. This week we had a balance scale available to explore the weight of natural materials.
To bring closure to the program, we said goodbye in Spanish to all of our farm animals using puppets and stuffed animals and sang our “Buenos días” song by Jose-Luis Orozco. We had a discussion about our Wonder Wall, which sparked fond memories from the past fall.
We’ve worked as a part of the farm community during the season and increased our knowledge as a group, so creating a class mural showcasing some of the ideas we explored was a useful exercise and assessment tool. Farm Sprouts jumped right in to choose materials of interest to add their thinking to the mural, working both independently and collaboratively.
It was then time to head outside! Farm Sprouts had expressed interest in returning to the pond for a hike, so as on the first day, we made our way there to see what we might discover. Once again, it was predicted we might see sharks, but as on our first day, no sharks were sighted. We did, on the other hand, spot cattails gone to seed, a grasshopper, two feathers floating on the surface of the water, three Canadian geese, a hornet’s nest, four bird nests, our osprey nest platform and our flock of ducks. We went on a BIG adventure, crossing a stream over rocks, navigating the boardwalk along the pond, and hiking up and down a hill into uncharted territory.
By then we we ready for a break, so we sat on the deck by the pond to enjoy smoothies and a story. Ms. Marilyn read us the magical book, Wild Child, by Lynn Plourde, which she donated to our program and was the perfect final story for the program.
Michigan Cranberry Smoothie
1/2 cup Michigan cranberries, frozen
1 apple, chopped
1 cup organic whole plain yogurt
a handful of mixed lettuce (grown by our afternoon group of Fall Farm Sprouts!)
1 Tbs Tollgate Farm honey
2 Tbs coconut water
1/2 tsp cinnamon/nutmeg
We ended our program with a tractor-pulled wagon ride around the farm with some of our family members. The forest looked much different than at the beginning of the season, even to our mid-season “Forest Day” hike. The trees are mostly bare, with just a few brown leaves remaining. We said goodbye to the farm and to the animals. Thank you, Farm Sprouts families, for joining us this fall season!
Special thanks go to Melanie Connors and Marilyn Diekman, who brought their love and passion for working with young children, for education and lifelong learning, and their appreciation of nature to this program to make it truly special.
I’d also like to thank the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center staff, who without them, this program would not be possible. Thank you, Roy, Joe, and Norb, for your help driving and preparing the tractor and wagon for us, for maintaining the grounds and our classroom. Many kind thanks to Ellen Koehler, for your endless support and for sharing ideas from your incredible knowledge base when it comes to outdoor education. Thank you, Karen Craig, for your assistance with marketing. Thank you to Will Jaquinde for advice on all matters plant-related. Nicole S. rocks when it comes to caring for our animals! Many thanks to Deb, Nicole B., Rosina, Gary, and Tim for your enthusiasm and support. Lastly, thank you to Alan Jaros, for the counsel and inspiration you provide me.