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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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #3 Tuesday PM

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

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #3 Tuesday AM

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! As a group, we cheered, “We are scientists!”

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, stopping to measure our lettuce on the way. We checked in on both our pot located near the greenhouse and the other location chosen by Farm Sprouts. This group chose the base of an apple tree! We noticed leaves had fallen into our pot. We are comparing growth between the pot cared for by people and the pot cared for by nature.  

We noticed that their fur is changing colors as we are transitioning to winter. We wondered about why that might be so? 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

 

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Wednesday PM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we wrote our names on leaves and added them to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. We spotted some snails on the way. Most of us measured thee growth of our individual lettuce at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We watched Mr. Joe harvest hay in the field and pretended we were wild animals. We harvested raspberries in the garden, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. This group stumbled on a bumblebee nest, which had us departing the raspberery patch quickly. Bumblebees can be more aggressive this time of year. We discussed how we had intruded upon their home, which made them upset with us. Fortunately, we all safely made our way from the raspberries and managed to pick enough for us all to still taste them for a snack. We spent time weeding and watering among the tomato vines. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack.

We also cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition.

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We spent some time documenting our discoveries in our journals and closed the day with gratitude. We look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #2 Wednesday AM

After just one week, most of us are feeling quite comfortable with our routines and the farm. We’ve observed children experience curiosity and wonder, heard some very thoughtful questions, and witnessed great joy and enthusiasm for learning about our local environment and the plants and animals living within it. We’re making discoveries and learning right along with our Farm Sprouts, modeling and sharing our love of learning as teachers and guides on the farm.

For our early literacy sign in activity, we found leaves with our names written on them and added the leaves to our indoor Farm Sprouts sugar maple tree. We worked on animal puzzles, played a harvest game, investigated various natural objects at our discovery table, or joined in pretend play with our wooden barn and farm animals.

We sang a greeting song in Spanish, as well as a name song in English. We thought about the changes that might take place on the farm in the fall. We were introduced to the word “phenology,” the study of cycles and natural phenomena, focusing on changes related to the climate and plant and animal life. Over the last fall season, we made careful observations of sunflowers. This season, we are observing trees to follow the interests of our children, specifically our apple and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts have been fascinated with our apple trees this season and those of us working on the farm have noticed this is a particularly great year for apples at MSU Tollgate Farm! You’ll notice a weekly photo capturing the same scene appear in our indoor classroom space for us to note changes over time along with some of the Farm Sprouts’ comments to accompany them.

On our way to the educational garden, we stopped to check on the growth of the lettuce seeds we had planted last week. Most of us measured growth at around 1 cm after one week. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our lettuce with this unseasonably hot weather. While in the garden, we spotted tomatoes, herbs, onions, dahlias, squash, and more! We stopped to visit with a gardener, Mr. Don, who showed us vegetables that we can easily see above the ground, including carrots, beets, and potatoes.

We harvested raspberries, learning that the change of color from white or pink to red means they are ripe. Some noted that they pull off the bush much easier when they are red. We also spent time weeding and watering in the tomato garden. Each child had the opportunity to harvest a tomato for snack. Farm Sprouts spent time documenting their discoveries in their journals. This group was really interested in plants and we found some really fascinating ones, including Japanese lanterns.

We also cut down the heads of our mammoth sunflowers and the name surely fits their size! These sunflowers are very special to us. We grew sunflowers our very first spring season, two seasons ago, and have since harvested the seeds last fall, sprouted the seeds in our greenhouse this past April, transplanted them out in the garden in May, and now have the opportunity to harvest the seeds once again this fall! We were able to gently brush off the flowers to see the seeds below, a wonderful, tangible example of how a seed develops from a flower. The heads with hundreds of seeds are now drying in our greenhouse and we will soon harvest them for replanting. It’s a beautiful tradition we hope to carry on for many years to come. Clay Ottoni, a Master Beekeeper with SEMBA who works at our site, reported that he took some incredible photos of honeybees pollinating our sunflowers and that we should keep up the good work. We are grateful to have your children become part of this life cycle and tradition. We wonder who has been snacking on the seeds?

For animal chores, we had the task of caring for our chickens. We visited them in their coop and checked on their food and water. We collected eggs and spent time observing their behavior and took a close look at the anatomy of a hen. We touched a hen’s comb, feet, waddles, and feathers, a truly wonderful sensory experience! We’ll continue to compare and contrast the different animals on the farm and explore how they prepare for and stay healthy, warm, and safe as the weather grows colder.

We sang a fun song throughout the morning, called “What can a hen do?”

A hen can lay a big brown egg. (hold an imaginary egg)
A hen can stand on just one leg. (stand on one leg)
A hen can run. (run in place)
A hen can walk. (walk in place)
A hen can say “Bawk, bawk, bawk”. (make wings and cluck)
But do you know what a hen can’t do? (shrug and hold your hands up)
A hen can’t ______________ like you. (fill in with creative ideas, such as these ideas from Farm Sprouts: eat pizza, swim, go shopping, eat cake)

A trip to the educational garden is much like our traditional “Forest Day,” coming up in October, in that it takes nearly the entire program to make our way out there to explore and then return to the Activity Center. Upon our return, we prepared our snack and enjoyed the “fruits” of our labor… raspberries and tomatoes! We closed the day with gratitude and look forward to lots of fun playing with and tasting apples next week!

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