Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #3 Wednesday AM

Our Wednesday morning group saw a break from the 93 degrees we saw the day before with a heavy rain that fell during our Invitations to Play! Fortunately, we were under the pavilion and it provided us with some nice puddles for jumping in as we hiked around the farm. 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. Unfortunately, our apple peeler had peeled its last apple and we had to forego that activity for our next gathering once our new apple peeler arrives. We took care of our turtle, Coltrane, and returned to the harvest game we enjoyed so much last week.

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 stopped to measure our lettuce, noting growth in both the pot cared for by the farmers and Farm Sprouts and the pot below the apple tree cared for by nature. We discovered a surprise in one of our pots! 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 freshly-picked apples and munched them down for their Harvest Snack.

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

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