Fall Farm Sprouts 2016 – Week 8 (PM)

This day was for the birds… literally! Our Farm Sprouts community is feeling strong as we headed into the month of November. Our overarching question of inquiry had us working back to birds and how they prepare for winter. How are we like birds? How are we different? We spent time observing birds, caring for birds, and even thinking like a bird today!

We signed-in by writing our names or first letters of our name in chalk on small tree cookies as a continuation from our day in the forest. We also voted for broccoli or grapes. Grapes were preferred by a landslide, although we overheard talk of families enjoying broccoli at home as well. MSU Extension reports that Michigan is a major producer of Concord grapes, so it is a good crop for our MSU Tollgate Farm Sprouts to love! How do grapes grow? We’ll take a close look at grapes next week, including tasting them as a part of our snack.

Our Welcome Activities included exploring our discovery tray and natural tree objects, such as various seeds, working with the Chicken Life Cycle set, cracking walnuts and peanuts with our olivewood nutcracker, much as a bird would do with its beak, and making owls and feather collages.

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During our large group gathering, we talked about foods and our likes, practicing the Spanish vocabulary for foods with as a part of the phrase, “Me gusta…” (I like…). We are learning the Spanish words for: apple (la manzana), pear (la pera), pumpkin (la calabaza), melon (el mel√≥n), lettuce (la lechuga), nut (el nuez), and egg (el huevo). We greeted our stuffed farm animals and farm animal puppets in Spanish. We also talked about birds and bird nests, taking a close look at two nests found on the ground after a windy day and the materials used to create them. We read the book, Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward. We were amazed at how different a nest can look depending on the species of bird!

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During our “Invitations to Play, Experiment, and Explore” outside, Farm Sprouts had the opportunity to construct bird nests using sticks, leaves, dirt, rope, and other found materials. Farm Sprouts collaborated very well as they entered into the minds of birds. Several Farm Sprouts remembered the nest of the Burrowing Owl from the story and created a similar nest utilizing a small hole at the base of a tree. We also made bird feeders to take home to observe birds in our own backyards. Did you know certain birds exhibit a behavior called “caching”? Birds like chickadees and blue jays will store seeds in cracks and crevices for later and a part of their brain grows to help them remember where their snacks are hidden. It is interesting to think about some of the seeds from our pine cone feeders being stashed away to help the birds survive the winter! To accompany our learning about birds, we had black oil sunflower seeds, feathers, and scoops in our sensory table. Lastly, we had mallets with leaves and berries available for pounding to release their natural pigments and leaves and glue for creating leaf animals as process-based art activities.

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Next we headed to the animal barn to collect eggs and take a close look at a hen and of course a stop to visit Jenna and the other Toggenburg goats. We took a close look at the different types of feathers covering here body, including her flight, contour, and down feathers and their purposes. We then headed toward the pond to feed the ducks. After collecting some feathers, we spent time documenting some of our discoveries and interests in our nature journals, including feathers.

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On our way to Mini Garden Kitchen, we stopped to check on our lettuce. Next week we’ll harvest it for tasting and plan to feed some to our animals as well. For snack, we sliced two kinds of melon for tasting, both cantelope and honeydew. Melon is in the same curcurbit family as pumpkins, so we took time to describe them and note similarities and differences to pumpkins as we cut them open and munched. We also read Plants Feed Me by Lizzy Rockwell, a really neat book which talks about the different plant parts we eat.

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After our break, we made our way to the silo, as the group voted to hike to explore inside of it last week. We also had the opportunity to sit in the farmer’s seat of one of our tractors. We noted the back wheels were taller than the Farm Sprouts and the big, round steering wheel and levers used to operate it. We love the color green at MSU Tollgate Farm, including our bright, green tractors! Go green!

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