Spring Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #7 Wednesday PM

Oh, glorious spring weather! We came through the heat of last week to two pleasant days on the farm, filled with sunny skies, a refreshing breeze, and the sounds of buzzing bees, chirping birds, and an occasional, “Moo!” Certainly, this week brought idyllic days on the farm, yet we also find ways to embrace weather which presents us with challenges. Snow, extreme temperatures, storms, mud, and ice can be hazardous, fun, and certainly opportunities to learn and grow in our skills and abilities. It is through facing these challenges that we develop resilience, the power to overcome life’s obstacles, leading us to become stronger and more confident. While we see many smiles and feel the energy and enthusiasm for learning outdoors on the farm, we also support Farm Sprouts in working through tears, struggles, fears, anger, failure, frustration, etc. We do this as a team, teachers included, because we’re out there as well, problem-solving and collaborating together on a long, hot day or a freezing cold one, to carry through with what we’ve set out to achieve, explore, and experience through our work and play while staying safe and balancing the needs of the group along with those of each individual person. We become stronger and both more confident and knowledgeable. The work on the farm, just as the work and challenges we’ll face in our lives, requires this of us.

We began our day with multiple sign in tables, including one designated to the less attractive side of adventures in the outdoors. Poison ivy and ticks are showing up in larger numbers this season and so through education, we can stay safe, lower our anxiety, and continue to reap all of the benefits time in the outdoors provides for us. Our Farm Sprout community can now identify a dog tick, the most common tick in Southeast Michigan, and poison ivy thanks to real-life examples. We have resources to support us in learning about ticks and more will be on the way thank you to parents who provided us with additional resources which have helped them recently. Still unsure about how to identify poison ivy? Try taking a poison ivy quiz to test yourself!

Farm Sprouts voted for two types of pollinator-loving flowers this week. If you’re interested in supporting pollinator species, try planting purple coneflowers or black-eyed susans if you have garden areas available. If you’d really like to be intentional and “smart” about planting for pollinators, read this article from an issue of MSU Extension’s “Smart Gardening” for some ideas and tips. Farm Sprouts drew letters of their names on tree cookies, cut out circles from tree branches, and worked as pollinators, using a “proboscis” (pipette) to gather nectar and bee fur (cotton swab) to collect pollen. Farm Sprouts also personalized binoculars (toilet paper tubes) so that they could spot interesting discoveries in the forest. Thank you to Ms. Melanie for providing us with the incredible flowers for our bee work!

Each spring and fall season, from our very first pilot season back in the spring of 2016, we’ve held a “Forest Day.” Farm Sprouts often report it as being on of their highlights of the season. The forest is an incredible place for a young child. It’s the place our tallest plants grow, creating shade and habitat for many creatures. We gathered to make predictions about what we might see and thought about how to have fun and be safe with sticks, one of the best “toys” of childhood that has ever existed… sticks! We read the poem, “A Stick is an Excellent Thing” by Marilyn Singer, donated by Ms. Marilyn, and the book, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, to inspire some creative uses of this loose part nature provides us for play. Many thanks to the Lucido family for donating this funny stick story!

On our hike to the forest, we visited with our horses, sheep, and goats! We stopped by our sugar shack, being filled with freshly-chopped wood in preparation for the next maple sugaring season. We noted how dark the forest was as we approached, stopping to make a plan to stay on the trail to avoid poison ivy. We learned how to identify poison ivy and sugar maple leaves, noting a mix of a variety of small plants just starting to grow and others. Farm Sprouts sat on the bridge, showing wonder at the beauty of the forest, taking a moment to quietly listen, looking up to gaze at the canopy, watching the trickle of stream flowing below. We munched on popcorn from Bur Oaks Farm near Ann Arbor and maple syrup, bottled right here at Tollgate in March. We showed our gratitude to the trees for providing us with this “lick the plate” treat! Only in the forest, where the maple sap flows, are we allowed to lick our plates so not one drop of this special, locally-sourced golden liquid goes to waste! We even had some imaginative, impromptu storytelling by some of our Farm Sprouts while we enjoyed our snack! We moved from our snack spot to enjoy a beautiful hike through the forest together. Farm Sprouts spotted a mother turkey with approximately ten chicks! (Baby turkeys are called chicks, a young male is a jake, and a young female is a jenny.) They were so quiet and careful to move in closer for a glimpse.

We hiked back and spent some time rock collecting to rock music, rocks being another favorite material found in nature. Mr. Roy, our Farm Manager, asked for our help with that task near the greenhouse. Farm Sprouts jumped right in, making all sorts of scientific observations as they picked each one up. Descriptive language, discoveries of creatures hidden beneath, collaboration to “excavate” the big ones, and noticing patterns of water movement in the soil and in the composition of the rocks all ensued. Who knew such a simple task could provide such a wealth of learning opportunity? It was also an authentic task, reminding us we are an important and integral part of the greater farm community at Tollgate.

We then made our way to the Children’s Garden, where we journaled, observed frogs, identified flowers, and worked as beekeepers, farmer’s market stand workers, and even “field guide librarians.” We utilized scientific tools to explore and tested our physical strength to climb a big rock, taking time to enjoy the view from the top. It was an engaging ending to another great week of Farm Sprouts. We look forward to a wonderful last week, including a wagon ride with our families and caregivers!

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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Spring Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #7 Wednesday AM

Oh, glorious spring weather! We came through the heat of last week to two pleasant days on the farm, filled with sunny skies, a refreshing breeze, and the sounds of buzzing bees, chirping birds, and an occasional, “Moo!” Certainly, this week brought idyllic days on the farm, yet we also find ways to embrace weather which presents us with challenges. Snow, extreme temperatures, storms, mud, and ice can be hazardous, fun, and certainly opportunities to learn and grow in our skills and abilities. It is through facing these challenges that we develop resilience, the power to overcome life’s obstacles, leading us to become stronger and more confident. While we see many smiles and feel the energy and enthusiasm for learning outdoors on the farm, we also support Farm Sprouts in working through tears, struggles, fears, anger, failure, frustration, etc. We do this as a team, teachers included, because we’re out there as well, problem-solving and collaborating together on a long, hot day or a freezing cold one, to carry through with what we’ve set out to achieve, explore, and experience through our work and play while staying safe and balancing the needs of the group along with those of each individual person. We become stronger and both more confident and knowledgeable. The work on the farm, just as the work and challenges we’ll face in our lives, requires this of us.

We began our day with multiple sign in tables, including one designated to the less attractive side of adventures in the outdoors. Poison ivy and ticks are showing up in larger numbers this season and so through education, we can stay safe, lower our anxiety, and continue to reap all of the benefits time in the outdoors provides for us. Our Farm Sprout community can now identify a dog tick, the most common tick in Southeast Michigan, and poison ivy thanks to real-life examples. We have resources to support us in learning about ticks and more will be on the way thank you to parents who provided us with additional resources which have helped them recently. Still unsure about how to identify poison ivy? Try taking a poison ivy quiz to test yourself!

Farm Sprouts voted for two types of pollinator-loving flowers this week. If you’re interested in supporting pollinator species, try planting purple coneflowers or black-eyed susans if you have garden areas available. If you’d really like to be intentional and “smart” about planting for pollinators, read this article from an issue of MSU Extension’s “Smart Gardening” for some ideas and tips. Farm Sprouts drew letters of their names on tree cookies, cut out circles from tree branches, and worked as pollinators, using a “proboscis” (pipette) to gather nectar and bee fur (cotton swab) to collect pollen. Farm Sprouts also personalized binoculars (toilet paper tubes) so that they could spot interesting discoveries in the forest. Thank you to Ms. Melanie for providing us with the incredible flowers for our bee work!

Each spring and fall season, from our very first pilot season back in the spring of 2016, we’ve held a “Forest Day.” Farm Sprouts often report it as being on of their highlights of the season. The forest is an incredible place for a young child. It’s the place our tallest plants grow, creating shade and habitat for many creatures. We gathered to make predictions about what we might see and thought about how to have fun and be safe with sticks, one of the best “toys” of childhood that has ever existed… sticks! We read the poem, “A Stick is an Excellent Thing” by Marilyn Singer, donated by Ms. Marilyn, and the book, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, to inspire some creative uses of this loose part nature provides us for play. Many thanks to the Lucido family for donating this funny stick story!

On our hike to the forest, we visited with our horses, sheep, and goats! We stopped by our sugar shack, being filled with freshly-chopped wood in preparation for the next maple sugaring season. We noted how dark the forest was as we approached, stopping to make a plan to stay on the trail to avoid poison ivy. We learned how to identify poison ivy and sugar maple leaves, noting a mix of a variety of small plants just starting to grow and others. Farm Sprouts sat on the bridge, showing wonder at the beauty of the forest, taking a moment to quietly listen, looking up to gaze at the canopy, watching the trickle of stream flowing below. We munched on popcorn from Bur Oaks Farm near Ann Arbor and maple syrup, bottled right here at Tollgate in March. We showed our gratitude to the trees for providing us with this “lick the plate” treat! Only in the forest, where the maple sap flows, are we allowed to lick our plates so not one drop of this special, locally-sourced golden liquid goes to waste! We moved from our snack spot to enjoy a beautiful hike through the forest together.

We hiked back to spend some time in the Children’s Garden, journaling, observing frogs, identifying flowers, and working as beekeepers, farmer’s market stand workers, and even “field guide librarians.” We utilized scientific tools to explore and tested our physical strength to climb a big rock, taking time to enjoy the view from the top. It was an engaging ending to another great week of Farm Sprouts. We look forward to a wonderful last week, including a wagon ride with our families and caregivers!

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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Spring Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #7 Tuesday PM

Oh, glorious spring weather! We came through the heat of last week to two pleasant days on the farm, filled with sunny skies, a refreshing breeze, and the sounds of buzzing bees, chirping birds, and an occasional, “Moo!” Certainly, this week brought idyllic days on the farm, yet we also find ways to embrace weather which presents us with challenges. Snow, extreme temperatures, storms, mud, and ice can be hazardous, fun, and certainly opportunities to learn and grow in our skills and abilities. It is through facing these challenges that we develop resilience, the power to overcome life’s obstacles, leading us to become stronger and more confident. While we see many smiles and feel the energy and enthusiasm for learning outdoors on the farm, we also support Farm Sprouts in working through tears, struggles, fears, anger, failure, frustration, etc. We do this as a team, teachers included, because we’re out there as well, problem-solving and collaborating together on a long, hot day or a freezing cold one, to carry through with what we’ve set out to achieve, explore, and experience through our work and play while staying safe and balancing the needs of the group along with those of each individual person. We become stronger and both more confident and knowledgeable. The work on the farm, just as the work and challenges we’ll face in our lives, requires this of us.

We began our day with multiple sign in tables, including one designated to the less attractive side of adventures in the outdoors. Poison ivy and ticks are showing up in larger numbers this season and so through education, we can stay safe, lower our anxiety, and continue to reap all of the benefits time in the outdoors provides for us. Our Farm Sprout community can now identify a dog tick, the most common tick in Southeast Michigan, and poison ivy thanks to real-life examples. We have resources to support us in learning about ticks and more will be on the way thank you to parents who provided us with additional resources which have helped them recently. Still unsure about how to identify poison ivy? Try taking a poison ivy quiz to test yourself!

Farm Sprouts voted for two types of pollinator-loving flowers this week. If you’re interested in supporting pollinator species, try planting purple coneflowers or black-eyed susans if you have garden areas available. If you’d really like to be intentional and “smart” about planting for pollinators, read this article from an issue of MSU Extension’s “Smart Gardening” for some ideas and tips. Farm Sprouts drew letters of their names on tree cookies, cut out circles from tree branches, and worked as pollinators, using a “proboscis” (pipette) to gather nectar and bee fur (cotton swab) to collect pollen. Farm Sprouts also personalized binoculars (toilet paper tubes) so that they could spot interesting discoveries in the forest. Thank you to Ms. Melanie for providing us with the incredible flowers for our bee work!

Each spring and fall season, from our very first pilot season back in the spring of 2016, we’ve held a “Forest Day.” Farm Sprouts often report it as being on of their highlights of the season. The forest is an incredible place for a young child. It’s the place our tallest plants grow, creating shade and habitat for many creatures. We gathered to make predictions about what we might see and thought about how to have fun and be safe with sticks, one of the best “toys” of childhood that has ever existed… sticks! We read the poem, “A Stick is an Excellent Thing” by Marilyn Singer, donated by Ms. Marilyn, and the book, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, to inspire some creative uses of this loose part nature provides us for play. Many thanks to the Lucido family for donating this funny stick story!

On our hike to the forest, we visited with our horses, sheep, and goats! We stopped by our sugar shack, being filled with freshly-chopped wood in preparation for the next maple sugaring season. We noted how dark the forest was as we approached, stopping to make a plan to stay on the trail to avoid poison ivy. We learned how to identify poison ivy and sugar maple leaves, noting a mix of a variety of small plants just starting to grow and others. Farm Sprouts sat on the bridge, showing wonder at the beauty of the forest, taking a moment to quietly listen, looking up to gaze at the canopy, watching the trickle of stream flowing below. We munched on popcorn from Bur Oaks Farm near Ann Arbor and maple syrup, bottled right here at Tollgate in March. We showed our gratitude to the trees for providing us with this “lick the plate” treat! Only in the forest, where the maple sap flows, are we allowed to lick our plates so not one drop of this special, locally-sourced golden liquid goes to waste! We moved from our snack spot to enjoy a beautiful hike through the forest together.

We spent some time rock collecting, rocks being another favorite material found in nature. Mr. Roy, our Farm Manager, asked for our help with that task near the greenhouse. Farm Sprouts jumped right in, making all sorts of scientific observations as they picked each one up. Descriptive language, discoveries of creatures hidden beneath, collaboration to “excavate” the big ones, and noticing patterns of water movement in the soil and in the composition of the rocks all ensued. Who knew such a simple task could provide such a wealth of learning opportunity? It was also an authentic task, reminding us we are an important and integral part of the greater farm community at Tollgate.

 

 

We hiked back to spend some time in the Children’s Garden, journaling, observing frogs, identifying flowers, and working as beekeepers, farmer’s market stand workers, and even “field guide librarians.” We utilized scientific tools to explore and tested our physical strength to climb a big rock, taking time to enjoy the view from the top. It was an engaging ending to another great week of Farm Sprouts. We look forward to a wonderful last week, including a wagon ride with our families and caregivers!

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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Spring Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #7 Tuesday AM

Oh, glorious spring weather! We came through the heat of last week to two pleasant days on the farm, filled with sunny skies, a refreshing breeze, and the sounds of buzzing bees, chirping birds, and an occasional, “Moo!” Certainly, this week brought idyllic days on the farm, yet we also find ways to embrace weather which presents us with challenges. Snow, extreme temperatures, storms, mud, and ice can be hazardous, fun, and certainly opportunities to learn and grow in our skills and abilities. It is through facing these challenges that we develop resilience, the power to overcome life’s obstacles, leading us to become stronger and more confident. While we see many smiles and feel the energy and enthusiasm for learning outdoors on the farm, we also support Farm Sprouts in working through tears, struggles, fears, anger, failure, frustration, etc. We do this as a team, teachers included, because we’re out there as well, problem-solving and collaborating together on a long, hot day or a freezing cold one, to carry through with what we’ve set out to achieve, explore, and experience through our work and play while staying safe and balancing the needs of the group along with those of each individual person. We become stronger and both more confident and knowledgeable. The work on the farm, just as the work and challenges we’ll face in our lives, requires this of us.

We began our day with multiple sign in tables, including one designated to the less attractive side of adventures in the outdoors. Poison ivy and ticks are showing up in larger numbers this season and so through education, we can stay safe, lower our anxiety, and continue to reap all of the benefits time in the outdoors provides for us. Our Farm Sprout community can now identify a dog tick, the most common tick in Southeast Michigan, and poison ivy thanks to real-life examples. We have resources to support us in learning about ticks and more will be on the way thank you to parents who provided us with additional resources which have helped them recently. Still unsure about how to identify poison ivy? Try taking a poison ivy quiz to test yourself!

Farm Sprouts voted for two types of pollinator-loving flowers this week. If you’re interested in supporting pollinator species, try planting purple coneflowers or black-eyed susans if you have garden areas available. If you’d really like to be intentional and “smart” about planting for pollinators, read this article from an issue of MSU Extension’s “Smart Gardening” for some ideas and tips. Farm Sprouts drew letters of their names on tree cookies, cut out circles from tree branches, and worked as pollinators, using a “proboscis” (pipette) to gather nectar and bee fur (cotton swab) to collect pollen. Farm Sprouts also personalized binoculars (toilet paper tubes) so that they could spot interesting discoveries in the forest. Thank you to Ms. Melanie for providing us with the incredible flowers for our bee work!

 

Each spring and fall season, from our very first pilot season back in the spring of 2016, we’ve held a “Forest Day.” Farm Sprouts often report it as being on of their highlights of the season. The forest is an incredible place for a young child. It’s the place our tallest plants grow, creating shade and habitat for many creatures. We gathered to make predictions about what we might see and thought about how to have fun and be safe with sticks, one of the best “toys” of childhood that has ever existed… sticks! We read the poem, “A Stick is an Excellent Thing” by Marilyn Singer, donated by Ms. Marilyn, and the book, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis, to inspire some creative uses of this loose part nature provides us for play. Many thanks to the Lucido family for donating this funny stick story!

On our hike to the forest, we visited with our horses, sheep, and goats! We stopped by our sugar shack, being filled with freshly-chopped wood in preparation for the next maple sugaring season. We noted how dark the forest was as we approached, stopping to make a plan to stay on the trail to avoid poison ivy. We learned how to identify poison ivy and sugar maple leaves, noting a mix of a variety of small plants just starting to grow and others. Farm Sprouts sat on the bridge, showing wonder at the beauty of the forest, taking a moment to quietly listen, looking up to gaze at the canopy, watching the trickle of stream flowing below. We munched on popcorn from Bur Oaks Farm near Ann Arbor and maple syrup, bottled right here at Tollgate in March. We showed our gratitude to the trees for providing us with this “lick the plate” treat! Only in the forest, where the maple sap flows, are we allowed to lick our plates so not one drop of this special, locally-sourced golden liquid goes to waste! We moved from our snack spot to enjoy a beautiful hike through the forest together.

We hiked back to spend some time in the Children’s Garden, journaling, observing frogs, identifying flowers, and working as beekeepers, farmer’s market stand workers, and even “field guide librarians.” We utilized scientific tools to explore and tested our physical strength to climb a big rock, taking time to enjoy the view from the top. It was an engaging ending to another great week of Farm Sprouts. We look forward to a wonderful last week, including a wagon ride with our families and caregivers!

“In every walk in nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

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Spring Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #6 Wednesday PM

“No bees, no food!” was our mantra of the week. For many, we worked on facing fears by gaining knowledge and developing empathy for these tiny creatures who help support our own human survival on this planet. We signed in by tracing a line to help a worker honey bee navigate to a sunflower. Did you know that honey bees only focus on pollinating one flower species at a time? They will then “regroup” in the hive before shifting their efforts to a different species of flower. Wow! Bee communication is amazing!

In preparation for our visit to the forest next week, we voted for predators, either owls or foxes. We likely spend some time acting as those animals in the forest. What do they need to survive? How do they explore the world?

For our welcome activities, we had time to for process art utilizing beautiful insect stamps. We wonder what kinds of insects we’ll discover in the forest next week? Farm Sprouts visited with our Japanese quail chicks, fed Coltrane, joined in block play on the carpet, or explored our discovery table, on which we display our nature treasures found by Farm Sprouts during our adventures. We noticed the chicks were growing their flight feathers, with the beginning pin feathers showing bright white on their wings.

During our gathering, we acted as seeds sprouting into flowers before changing into bees as we danced to the song, “Bumblebee” by Laurie Berkner.

During our Invitations to Play, Discover, Explore! we cooked with various beans and seeds in the sensory table, painted flowers, bees, etc., and worked as beekeepers and/or farmer’s market workers, harvesting honey and selling it to costumers. Seeds become flowers, the bees pollinate the flowers, which are beautiful, a work of art of nature, and we in turn can harvest the honey made by the bees to sell at the store or market. There is such power in pretend play! Language, mathematics, collaboration, food systems, and more are all embedded through this type of play. Thank you to the Boji, Forbes, and Thwaite families for donating the bee suits. Thank you to the Hurlbert, Rubin, and Fritz families for donating the gloves and tools, including a hive tool, bee brush, and smoker. A big thank you to the Schaad family for their donations of bee “glue,” wax, candle, and honeycomb. And lastly, thank you to Ms. Marilyn for donating the skep! What in the world is a skep? Read on for a brief overview of the history on beekeeping. These items are such a wonderful addition to our program! We’ll have them back out in the next weeks as well for more opportunities to engage as beekeepers.

For begin our snack, we thought about how strawberries grow with a poem. We munched on strawberries, tasted local, creamy honey on Wasa light rye crackers, and tasted sunflower seed kernels, as requested by Farm Sprouts based on our transplanting activity last week. Without bees, this snack would not have been possible! We were feeling very grateful for bees as we filled our bellies with these sweet treats.

It was then time for a hike and today, it was off to the hives We have eight hives recently installed by Meghan Milbrath with the Department of Entomology at MSU for the purpose of research. We practiced our observation skills as we trained our eyes to see the honeybees darting in and out of the hives. We counted the hives and asked questions about them. Can bees sting each other? Do bees crash into one another? How do they go inside and out? What is happening inside? We talked about how it would feel to have a stranger invade our house and why beekeepers wear suits. Ms. Brooke suited up and headed into the bee yard, showing how at least with the honey bees, their focus is directed on seeking flowers rather than aggravating the humans surrounding their homes. We peeked inside a nucleus hive, using our senses to feel, smell and see. We’ve talked a lot about eggs and marveled that bees are another creature that hatch out of eggs! We’ve made some big strides in exploring our driving questions: How do seeds become flowers? How do bees help give us food?

To conclude the day, we documented our ideas and discoveries in our journals and enjoyed the book, Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Treckentrupp. We discovered how just one bee to make a world of difference! Thank you to the Jonckheere family for donating this beautiful story to Farm Sprouts!


Thank you to Tim McGee, Educational Leader at Tollgate and local beekeeper, for both harvesting the delicious honey for our snack and loaning us his nucleus hive. We’d also like to show our gratitude to Sheldon Schwitek and Mike Risk with the Michigan Beekeepers’ Association for their donation of the story coloring books that were sent home with your Farm Sprouts this week. From this week’s blog post, you can see the many who care deeply about bees and education. We fortunate to have such a great community of support!

Interested in learning more about bees as a family? Visit Bee Palooza on MSU’s campus on June 24th!

Want to help? Download this resource from our MSU Extension website.

“All the flowers of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” – Indian Proverb

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