Fall Farm Sprouts 2016 – Week 5 (PM)

How do apples grow? How do apples become cider? Where does milk come from? How does goat cheese taste? We’ve had a lot of fun with first-hand experiences to discover the answers to these questions.

This week Farm Sprouts signed in by tracing the letters of their names in sand, which is a well-loved sensory method for practicing early writing. Many lingered at the sand tray, instantly engrossed in creating trails with their fingers. They moved on to harvesting sunflower seeds from the heads of the Mammoth Sunflowers grown by the spring Farm Sprouts. We’ll save the seeds for planting next year! This was such popular work that they decided we should continue to work on it next week. This activity is a beautiful illustration of a life cycle of a plant, from seed, to sprout, to flower, back to seed. We’ll compost the heads to make rich soil for another planting season. We also have a very full and interesting collection of nature discoveries to examine and we’ll continue to collect and add to it as we venture out to new areas of the farm in the next couple weeks.

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During our large group gathering, we reviewed previous Spanish greetings, sang our “Apples, Apples” song, and acted out the life cycle of an apple in preparation for our outdoor activities. We also talked about our Wonder Wall, which we’ll begin to visit frequently to reflect on our past learning experiences in order to build new understandings.

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Once again we offered apple stamping at the request of the group, but added painting apples/pumpkins at the easel. Farm Sprouts were provided with a variety of sizes of paintbrushes along with red, green, and yellow paint. Mixing was encouraged and some even stumbled on the creation of the color orange! We also had a mix of rice, beans, peas, and lentils in the sensory table for cooking, which led to the creation of many tasty dishes.

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In the animal barn, we focused on one big chore, which was milking Jenna, one of our Toggenburg goats. How are we like goats? We are mammals! We produce milk, we’re covered with hair/fur, and we have live births. How are the mammals on the farm different than the poultry? How are they similar? We’ll continue to work more with our animals to investigate these questions more in depth! The experience of milking a goat for the first time is truly special.

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When we returned from milking, we were ready for Mini Garden Kitchen. The group harvested pear and cherry tomatoes, along with a couple green bell peppers. We worked as a team to press apple cider by the orchard and enjoyed a small cup or two. Almost all tasted goat cheese on sourdough bread from Stone House Bread out of Traverse City, MI! We also munched on sliced, green bell peppers picked from our own gardens at MSU Tollgate Farm.

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Farm Sprouts had time to make discoveries in the Children’s Garden and run out some energy in the straw maze. They voted to journal in the maze, so we ended up with entries which included discoveries from the nearby garden, pumpkins, straw bales, and more. We also returned to the greenhouse to tend to our lettuce, taking time to measure growth, make comparisons, note the variations in color, and make predictions as to why some varieties might be growing better than others. They decided the temperature and amount of sunlight could be effecting growth. Individuals could then decide to leave their pots inside the greenhouse or outside. We’ll continue to monitor our lettuce and will soon have a taste!

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To end the day, we read the story, Winter on the Farm by Laura Ingalls Wilder, kindly donated to us by Marilyn Diekman, a Master Gardener and morning Farm Sprouts volunteer. Many of the activities in the story we’ve experienced, such as pressing cider, tasting apples, and milking a goat. Next week we’re off on a big adventure to the pumpkin patch to find out how pumpkins grow and share how we like to eat them, which for Almanzo, the boy in the story, is in the form of pumpkin pie! How do you like cook with pumpkin?

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