Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Wednesday AM

The forest is such a joy to explore. We are so grateful to have 40 acres of sugar maple/beech trees on our site. It is the home of our maple sugaring operation in the winter and Farm Sprouts who didn’t already know quickly discovered that our forest is not ordinary. We have miles of tubing running through the forest to form a system which connects to approximately 250 trees. This system is used to gather sap during the run, usually beginning around the end of February. For now, we enjoy the fruits of our labor during those snowy sugaring days in the form of maple syrup. There is no doubt that the extra “fifth season” on the farm helps with the passing of the long days of winter, a sign that spring is right around the corner. This past week we enjoyed one last burst of summer, with hot and humid weather for our spring and fall tradition of “Forest Day,” a treasured and memorable day for our Sprouts.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts wrote the first letter or their full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. They voted for chipmunks or squirrels, the nut-gathering creatures we often see running around our site. We spotted a few and discovered some places they had taken a break to munch a nut among the hard work of gathering in preparation for winter days ahead. As is tradition, Farm Sprouts prepared binoculars for the hike. One Farm Sprout reported that her dog ate her binoculars from spring season, so she was very happy for a replacement! These “binoculars” are scientific tools our preschoolers use to hone their skills of observation. They also had the opportunity to handle worms, tree parts, and to feed Coltrane, our turtle.

For our gathering, we discussed what is happening with our “Wonder Wall,” recalling past experiences and identifying ways we are working as scientists. We read a book to learn more about what scientists do to connect to our work on the farm. We make observations, take photographs, draw our discoveries, ask questions, and create plans. We share our thoughts, ideas, and current understandings in many different ways!

On our hike to the forest, we stopped to “Hunt the Cows.” This is a very fun song we sing and will revisit. We’ll plan to sing it to you on our last day! We passed our horses, the sugar shack, and a strange-looking, round, white ball. Guesses of what it was included: an eye, a bone, a seashell, and an egg. These are all wonderful guesses and we’ll plan to think more about it coming up. (For our families: It is actually a giant puffball mushroom… and you can eat them! Just be sure to fully research when and how to harvest for safe consumption if you’re interested in foraging for these wild edibles.)

Upon entering the forest, Farm Sprouts commented: “It’s dark in here” and “It’s so beautiful.” The forest is, indeed, beautiful and living in our urban community, we often don’t spend enough time seeking out our forested lands. The wonder and appreciation for this opportunity was evident. Also, to be embarking on such an adventure without a family member provides incredible growth in self-confidence and independence for young children. We’ve spent time building a strong learning community in which preschoolers can assess and take risks to challenge themselves to grow.

Of course, the first activity they requested was to eat popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup on the bridge. We visited the source of our syrup by looking up to the crowns of the sugar maples, giving them our thanks for providing us with this sweet and tasty treat! While they munched, they became the audience for our “Legend of the Sugar Maple,” part of our Forest Theater series (currently in an editing and drafting phase.) It was a big hit, as Farm Sprouts have wondered whether or not trees “die” in the fall and why the leaves fall to the ground. The legend explores the complex process of why some trees, like our maples and beech, are losing their leaves. Why do leaves change color?

With bellies full of our favorite forest snack, it was time to play! We found a place to settle in for some free discovery and interaction with each other and the forest. While we often talk of the cognitive development of young children, it is important to remember this is but one aspect to the growth of a healthy child. Through the program, we strive to meet the needs of the whole child and this includes physical, social, and emotional development. There are times where we stand back and provide careful support to allow children to engage with each other, to develop social and emotional skills. A fallen tree became one of our most popular and valuable catalysts for growth in learning this week, providing a place for climbing, balance, the need to communicate with others to solve conflict and navigate around each other, a place to rest and to document discoveries. More work continued with our tree cookie project as well.

Upon arriving back to the old apple orchard, we gathered to read, The Things That I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth. This book was donated to the program by Ms. Melanie, who has a great passion for trees. Thank you, Ms. Melanie!

We’ll see you next week, during which we will explore our arboretum, visit the new Sakura Garden, and spend time caring for some of our feathery farm animals!

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest.” – Maria Montessori

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Tuesday PM

The forest is such a joy to explore. We are so grateful to have 40 acres of sugar maple/beech trees on our site. It is the home of our maple sugaring operation in the winter and Farm Sprouts who didn’t already know quickly discovered that our forest is not ordinary. We have miles of tubing running through the forest to form a system which connects to approximately 250 trees. This system is used to gather sap during the run, usually beginning around the end of February. For now, we enjoy the fruits of our labor during those snowy sugaring days in the form of maple syrup. There is no doubt that the extra “fifth season” on the farm helps with the passing of the long days of winter, a sign that spring is right around the corner. This past week we enjoyed one last burst of summer, with hot and humid weather for our spring and fall tradition of “Forest Day,” a treasured and memorable day for our Sprouts.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts wrote the first letter or their full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. They voted for chipmunks or squirrels, the nut-gathering creatures we often see running around our site. We spotted a few and discovered some places they had taken a break to munch a nut among the hard work of gathering in preparation for winter days ahead. As is tradition, Farm Sprouts prepared binoculars for the hike. One Farm Sprout reported that her dog ate her binoculars from spring season, so she was very happy for a replacement! These “binoculars” are scientific tools our preschoolers use to hone their skills of observation. They also had the opportunity to handle worms, tree parts, and to feed Coltrane, our turtle.

For our gathering, we discussed what is happening with our “Wonder Wall,” recalling past experiences and identifying ways we are working as scientists. We read a book to learn more about what scientists do to connect to our work on the farm. We make observations, take photographs, draw our discoveries, ask questions, and create plans. We share our thoughts, ideas, and current understandings in many different ways! We thought about maps and Ms. Brooke shared a map she drew to help us navigate our way to the forest.

On our hike to the forest, we stopped to “Hunt the Cows.” This is a very fun song we sing and will revisit. We’ll plan to sing it to you on our last day! We passed our horses, the sugar shack, and a strange-looking, round, white ball. Guesses of what it was included: an eye, a bone, a seashell, and an egg. These are all wonderful guesses and we’ll plan to think more about it coming up. (For our families: It is actually a giant puffball mushroom… and you can eat them! Just be sure to fully research when and how to harvest for safe consumption if you’re interested in foraging for these wild edibles.)

Upon entering the forest, Farm Sprouts commented: “It’s dark in here” and “It’s so beautiful.” The forest is, indeed, beautiful and living in our urban community, we often don’t spend enough time seeking out our forested lands. The wonder and appreciation for this opportunity was evident. Also, to be embarking on such an adventure without a family member provides incredible growth in self-confidence and independence for young children. We’ve spent time building a strong learning community in which preschoolers can assess and take risks to challenge themselves to grow.

Of course, the first activity they requested was to eat popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup on the bridge. We visited the source of our syrup by looking up to the crowns of the sugar maples, giving them our thanks for providing us with this sweet and tasty treat! While they munched, they became the audience for our “Legend of the Sugar Maple,” part of our Forest Theater series (currently in an editing and drafting phase.) It was a big hit, as Farm Sprouts have wondered whether or not trees “die” in the fall and why the leaves fall to the ground. The legend explores the complex process of why some trees, like our maples and beech, are losing their leaves. Why do leaves change color?

With bellies full of our favorite forest snack, it was time to play! We found a place to settle in for some free discovery and interaction with each other and the forest. While we often talk of the cognitive development of young children, it is important to remember this is but one aspect to the growth of a healthy child. Through the program, we strive to meet the needs of the whole child and this includes physical, social, and emotional development. There are times where we stand back and provide careful support to allow children to engage with each other, to develop social and emotional skills. A fallen tree became one of our most popular and valuable catalysts for growth in learning this week, providing a place for climbing, balance, the need to communicate with others to solve conflict and navigate around each other, a place to rest and to document discoveries. More work continued with our tree cookie project as well.

Upon arriving back to the old apple orchard, we gathered to read, The Things That I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth. This book was donated to the program by Ms. Melanie, who has a great passion for trees. Thank you, Ms. Melanie!

We’ll see you next week, during which we will explore our arboretum, visit the new Sakura Garden, and spend time caring for some of our feathery farm animals!

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest.” – Maria Montessori

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #4 Tuesday AM

The forest is such a joy to explore. We are so grateful to have 40 acres of sugar maple/beech trees on our site. It is the home of our maple sugaring operation in the winter and Farm Sprouts who didn’t already know quickly discovered that our forest is not ordinary. We have miles of tubing running through the forest to form a system which connects to approximately 250 trees. This system is used to gather sap during the run, usually beginning around the end of February. For now, we enjoy the fruits of our labor during those snowy sugaring days in the form of maple syrup. There is no doubt that the extra “fifth season” on the farm helps with the passing of the long days of winter, a sign that spring is right around the corner. This past week we enjoyed one last burst of summer, with hot and humid weather for our spring and fall tradition of “Forest Day,” a treasured and memorable day for our Sprouts.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts wrote the first letter or their full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. They voted for chipmunks or squirrels, the nut-gathering creatures we often see running around our site. We spotted a few and discovered some places they had taken a break to munch a nut among the hard work of gathering in preparation for winter days ahead. As is tradition, Farm Sprouts prepared binoculars for the hike. One Farm Sprout reported that her dog ate her binoculars from spring season, so she was very happy for a replacement! These “binoculars” are scientific tools our preschoolers use to hone their skills of observation. They also had the opportunity to handle worms, tree parts, and to feed Coltrane, our turtle.

For our gathering, we discussed what is happening with our “Wonder Wall,” recalling past experiences and identifying ways we are working as scientists. We read a book to learn more about what scientists do to connect to our work on the farm. We make observations, take photographs, draw our discoveries, ask questions, and create plans. We share our thoughts, ideas, and current understandings in many different ways!

On our hike to the forest, we stopped to “Hunt the Cows.” This is a very fun song we sing and will revisit. We’ll plan to sing it to you on our last day! We passed our horses, the sugar shack, and a strange-looking, round, white ball. Guesses of what it was included: an eye, a bone, a seashell, and an egg. These are all wonderful guesses and we’ll plan to think more about it coming up. (For our families: It is actually a giant puffball mushroom… and you can eat them! Just be sure to fully research when and how to harvest for safe consumption if you’re interested in foraging for these wild edibles.)

Upon entering the forest, Farm Sprouts commented: “It’s dark in here” and “It’s so beautiful.” The forest is, indeed, beautiful and living in our urban community, we often don’t spend enough time seeking out our forested lands. The wonder and appreciation for this opportunity was evident. Also, to be embarking on such an adventure without a family member provides incredible growth in self-confidence and independence for young children. We’ve spent time building a strong learning community in which preschoolers can assess and take risks to challenge themselves to grow.

Of course, the first activity they requested was to eat popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup on the bridge. We visited the source of our syrup by looking up to the crowns of the sugar maples, giving them our thanks for providing us with this sweet and tasty treat! While they munched, they became the audience for our “Legend of the Sugar Maple,” part of our Forest Theater series (currently in an editing and drafting phase.) It was a big hit, as Farm Sprouts have wondered whether or not trees “die” in the fall and why the leaves fall to the ground. The legend explores the complex process of why some trees, like our maples and beech, are losing their leaves. Why do leaves change color?

With bellies full of our favorite forest snack, it was time to play! We found a place to settle in for some free discovery and interaction with each other and the forest. While we often talk of the cognitive development of young children, it is important to remember this is but one aspect to the growth of a healthy child. Through the program, we strive to meet the needs of the whole child and this includes physical, social, and emotional development. There are times where we stand back and provide careful support to allow children to engage with each other, to develop social and emotional skills. A fallen tree became one of our most popular and valuable catalysts for growth in learning this week, providing a place for climbing, balance, the need to communicate with others to solve conflict and navigate around each other, a place to rest and to document discoveries. More work continued with our tree cookie project as well.

Upon arriving back to the old apple orchard, we gathered to read, The Things That I Love About Trees by Chris Butterworth. This book was donated to the program by Ms. Melanie, who has a great passion for trees. Thank you, Ms. Melanie!

We’ll see you next week, during which we will explore our arboretum, visit the new Sakura Garden, and spend time caring for some of our feathery farm animals!

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest.” – Maria Montessori

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #3 Wednesday PM

Maps, perspective, navigation, and mazes were on our minds as we explored the farm this third week of the program. We had fantastic weather. In Farm Sprouts, we actually welcome the opportunity to play and learn in the rain! There is much we can gain from splashing in a puddle. Adults should take the time to stomp in one every now and then. It is both a satisfying and joyful experience at any age.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts practiced close observation by peering through a magnifying glass to spot their name on a worm wiggling through an apple. We wondered what worms eat other than apples? And what eats worms? Worms are so important to our farm ecosystem and are fascinating to study. They always seem to worm their way into both our fall and spring programs!

Two of our monarchs emerged from their chrysalises, one over the weekend and the other on Monday. The final monarch emerged mid morning on Thursday. We released the first monarch over the weekend (in photo.) We kept our second monarch butterfly in its container through our program this week and released it on Wednesday afternoon. The ideal time to release a monarch is when the temperature is in the 60’s with sunshine, which is exactly what we had happen with conditions for our Wednesday afternoon class. This meant that each group was able to observe the monarch closely! The monarch caterpillars we raised were found at Tollgate munching our milkweed. If you are interested in raising monarchs next year, you can visit Monarch Watch to learn more about it. These monarchs will make the journey to their overwintering sites, either in Mexico or the Southwestern U.S. The fall migration takes place from September to October. It’s quite spectacular to visit the sanctuaries. How do monarchs know where to go to spend the winter? This is something scientists are still working to understand. Maybe one of our Farm Sprouts will someday discover the answer! It’s funny to imagine a monarch holding a map, but somehow, without one, they know right where to go.

We returned to play the HABA First Orchard game due to popular request, as well as fed Coltrane, visited the discovery table, and worked together at our duck pond carpet.

During our group gathering, we read Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. We prompted Farm Sprouts to share what they know about maps and then explored our very own “Mystery Box,” filled with maps and materials to spur questions and ideas. One Farm Sprout exclaimed, “It’s a map party!” We’ll continue to weave our study of maps into our investigation of our big question: How do plants and animals prepare for winter?

On our way outside, we stopped by our old orchard to continue this season’s phenology focus: apples trees. This early introduction to phenology is important as changes and shifts in our plant and animal populations and the time these occur can be indicators of larger issues. People throughout history have noticed and documented these changes. We need to hold on to our awareness of what is happening in the natural world despite the current age of technology in which we find ourselves; to take time to remind ourselves, and our children, the value of sharing these observations with one another.

For our Invitations to Play, Experiment, Explore! we had the fantastic opportunity to be the first groups to navigate the straw maze! We briefly stopped to think about perspective, such as how the maze appeared from a preschooler’s view, to someone standing on top of the straw bales, to a bird flying overhead, before releasing Farm Sprouts to go! What can appear to be frivolous play was actually a powerful learning experience for children. Again, we observed Farm Sprouts play with perspective. They tested themselves physically, assessed and managed risk in relation to their skills and abilities, developed social skills as they navigated conflicts, created imaginary worlds to expand their creative thinking, and much more. To note: Farm Sprouts will not be permitted to go on top of the straw bales during Pumpkinfest! Be sure to let them know this is something special they are permitted to do during Farm Sprouts only and they will have another opportunity to visit the straw maze during a program date in October.

In preparation for “Forest Day,” taking place next week, we began working with wood. We had both small and medium-sized tree cookies. For the small tree cookies, Farm Sprouts experimented with watercolors and pipettes to create tree cookie art. With the medium cookies, they spend time sanding them smooth as they will be continuing to work with these cookies during subsequent weeks.

It was then time for a Harvest Snack! We once again used the picker and hiked up to our pear tree, located in the circle drive near the silos. Once washed, we settled down into the silo to much and think about how pears grow. We thought about the purpose of a fruit as we read A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards. Once finished, we placed what remained of our pears in compost trailers or containers. Some of us ate down the fruit to discover seeds!

To conclude the day, we spent time journaling in or near the straw maze. We had time to visit Red, our old-timer horse, to go on a successful duck hunt, and ended with our closing routine, thanking each other, the sun, the birds, and the bees for all they provide for us.

We are off next week in preparation for our Pumpkinfest event. We hope to see many of you there! We’ll resume Farm Sprouts on October 9th and 10th with our season tradition of “Forest Day,” always one of the highlights of the season!

This blog is dedicated to Alan Jaros, for without his vision, leadership, encouragement, and support, this program would not exist. May he continue to impact lives, both young and old, in the next chapter of his career!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #3 Wednesday AM

Maps, perspective, navigation, and mazes were on our minds as we explored the farm this third week of the program. We had fantastic weather. In Farm Sprouts, we actually welcome the opportunity to play and learn in the rain! There is much we can gain from splashing in a puddle. Adults should take the time to stomp in one every now and then. It is both a satisfying and joyful experience at any age.

To sign in this week, Farm Sprouts practiced close observation by peering through a magnifying glass to spot their name on a worm wiggling through an apple. We wondered what worms eat other than apples? And what eats worms? Worms are so important to our farm ecosystem and are fascinating to study. They always seem to worm their way into both our fall and spring programs!

Two of our monarchs emerged from their chrysalises, one over the weekend and the other on Monday. The final monarch emerged mid morning on Thursday. We released the first monarch over the weekend (in photo.) We kept our second monarch butterfly in its container through our program this week and released it on Wednesday afternoon. The ideal time to release a monarch is when the temperature is in the 60’s with sunshine, which is exactly what we had happen with conditions for our Wednesday afternoon class. This meant that each group was able to observe the monarch closely! The monarch caterpillars we raised were found at Tollgate munching our milkweed. If you are interested in raising monarchs next year, you can visit Monarch Watch to learn more about it. These monarchs will make the journey to their overwintering sites, either in Mexico or the Southwestern U.S. The fall migration takes place from September to October. It’s quite spectacular to visit the sanctuaries. How do monarchs know where to go to spend the winter? This is something scientists are still working to understand. Maybe one of our Farm Sprouts will someday discover the answer! It’s funny to imagine a monarch holding a map, but somehow, without one, they know right where to go.

We returned to play the HABA First Orchard game due to popular request, as well as fed Coltrane, visited the discovery table, and worked together at our duck pond carpet.

During our group gathering, we read Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney. We prompted Farm Sprouts to share what they know about maps and then explored our very own “Mystery Box,” filled with maps and materials to spur questions and ideas. One Farm Sprout exclaimed, “It’s a map party!” We’ll continue to weave our study of maps into our investigation of our big question: How do plants and animals prepare for winter?

On our way outside, we stopped by our old orchard to continue this season’s phenology focus: apples trees. This early introduction to phenology is important as changes and shifts in our plant and animal populations and the time these occur can be indicators of larger issues. People throughout history have noticed and documented these changes. We need to hold on to our awareness of what is happening in the natural world despite the current age of technology in which we find ourselves; to take time to remind ourselves, and our children, the value of sharing these observations with one another.

For our Invitations to Play, Experiment, Explore! we had the fantastic opportunity to be the first groups to navigate the straw maze! We briefly stopped to think about perspective, such as how the maze appeared from a preschooler’s view, to someone standing on top of the straw bales, to a bird flying overhead, before releasing Farm Sprouts to go! What can appear to be frivolous play was actually a powerful learning experience for children. Again, we observed Farm Sprouts play with perspective. They tested themselves physically, assessed and managed risk in relation to their skills and abilities, developed social skills as they navigated conflicts, created imaginary worlds to expand their creative thinking, and much more. To note: Farm Sprouts will not be permitted to go on top of the straw bales during Pumpkinfest! Be sure to let them know this is something special they are permitted to do during Farm Sprouts only and they will have another opportunity to visit the straw maze during a program date in October.

In preparation for “Forest Day,” taking place next week, we began working with wood. We had both small and medium-sized tree cookies. For the small tree cookies, Farm Sprouts experimented with watercolors and pipettes to create tree cookie art. With the medium cookies, they spend time sanding them smooth as they will be continuing to work with these cookies during subsequent weeks.

It was then time for a Harvest Snack! We once again used the picker and hiked up to our pear tree, located in the circle drive near the silos. Once washed, we settled down into the silo to much and think about how pears grow. We thought about the purpose of a fruit as we read A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards. Once finished, we placed what remained of our pears in compost trailers or containers. Some of us ate down the fruit to discover seeds!

To end the day, we spent time journaling in or near the straw maze. We finished the day with our closing routine, thanking each other, the sun, the birds, and the bees for all they provide for us.

We are off next week in preparation for our Pumpkinfest event. We hope to see many of you there! We’ll resume Farm Sprouts on October 9th and 10th with our season tradition of “Forest Day,” always one of the highlights of the season!

This blog is dedicated to Alan Jaros, for without his vision, leadership, encouragement, and support, this program would not exist. May he continue to impact lives, both young and old, in the next chapter of his career!

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