The hottest day of the year happened to fall on “Apple Day” this fall season! We hit a high of 93 degrees by the afternoon and Farm Sprouts left sweaty and covered with flour and a sprinkling of paint. The heat didn’t slow us down (too much) and developed a bit of resiliency in all of us. We worked hard and had a lot of fun exploring the life cycle of an apple, from farm to table!
Farm Sprouts signed in by honing their magnifying glass skills in order to identify their names printed on small, green worms munching their way around apples. It was then time to make applesauce! Each child had the opportunity to use the apple peeler to remove the skin and add the flesh to our crock pot. While working the crank, we pondered questions such as, “I wonder why apples have skin?” and “Why do apples have different color skin?”
During our large group gathering, we greeted each other by passing our magic “huevo” (“egg” in Spanish) to continue to learn names and paired up with a farm buddy for the day. We then read the book, What Do Scientists Do? by Daniel Jacobs. What do scientists do? Well, they look at things, measure, take notes, watch how things change, draw pictures, ask questions, work together to find out answers, and make charts to show what they find. It turns out we are scientists too, right here at MSU Tollgate Farm!
We checked in on our phenology sequence. We noted that the changes occurring include the leaves changing colors, especially in the apple trees, with some of the leaves now dropping to the ground.
Our Invitations to Play, Explore, Experiment! included painting apples or leaves on the easel, baking our favorite apple treats in the sensory table, and experimenting with apple gravity ramps. We incorporate STEAM in our program, meaning science (clearly!), technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. We could see all of this at work today. How do we use technology? We’ve talked with children about how we utilize our phones to record their ideas and questions through discussion and to capture photos. They have now heard us mention our “Wonder Wall” and we’ll soon be adding their journal drawings, photos that we’ve taken or that they have directed us to take, and their questions and thoughts on the boards in our classroom. We then refer to these learning artifacts to spur them to recall experiences and build connections to develop new understandings. This is one strategy we use to incorporate systems thinking in a developmentally appropriate manner with preschool-age children.
We hiked out to the Animal Barn to visit our rabbits. On the way, we checked in on our lettuce to measure growth, both in the pots being cared for near the greenhouse and our group pot being cared for by nature (and the cattle.) It seems the lettuce being cared for in nature is not growing as well as our greenhouse lettuce. We wondered about why this is so?
We noticed the fur on our rabbits is changing colors as we are transitioning to winter. We wondered what is happening and how do their bodies know to make their fur change? We read them a story to learn about the life cycle of an apple, From Shoot to Apple by Stacy Taus-Bolstad. It was then time to pick apples! We used a neat tool, called the “apple picker,” to help us reach high into the trees to find the tastiest apples. Once we brought the apples down, Farm Sprouts had to work as inspectors to make sure there weren’t any holes. Who else likes to eat apples at the farm? We observed that worms, birds, cattle, and goats all like apples too.
We sang, “Here we go ’round the apple tree” as we marched back towards the Activity Center. Farm Sprouts washed their own apples and munched them down, as well as tasted their own, homemade applesauce made with a mix of Michigan Honey Crisp and Tollgate Gala apples. We finished the day by learning how to use the cider press. We added the words, “crank” and “hopper” to our vocabulary, practiced safety, observed the apples being crushed and pressed, and discovered that wasps also like apples! Our journal entries focused on apples and other findings and thoughts from the day.
Next it will be time to turn our attention towards pumpkins. We’re off next week as we prepare for our annual Pumpkinfest event at the farm. We hope to see you there!
“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.” ― Bill Meyer