Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #2 Wednesday PM

Our second week brought some warm, spring-like weather for the last day in February. Farm Sprouts signed in by making some sugar maple tree bark rubbings on their journals and voted for blueberries or cranberries to help us plan for our sugarbush snack next week. We continued with working on our sugarbush mural, which had started last week with blue watercolor paint and started working on design plans for our own imaginative play sugar shack built out of cardboard boxes. Farm Sprouts came up with some really inventive design ideas. We’ll be gathering the supplies and materials they need to implement their plans so we can move on to the construction phase next week.

Also as a part of our welcome activities, Farm Sprouts harvested the pea shoots grown through our Sustainable Agriculture Program, which includes a C.S.A. We had checked on our flats of pea shoots in the greenhouse last week and noted they were just beginning to sprout. This week they had transformed into lush greens that were ready for us to taste! Farm Sprouts enjoyed the authentic task of harvesting shoots as they worked on their fine motor skills through the use of scissors. We boiled pasta and made our very own pea shoot pesto with extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, sea salt, and the shoots. A dash of lemon is a nice addition as well! We kept the nuts out of the recipe, but you could certainly include them if your family enjoys them and you wanted to try your hand at your own homemade version.

Once outside, we hiked our way to the sugarbush, stopping to visit our animals on the way. We greeted our animals in Spanish and English, including: cows (las vacas), sheep (las ovejas), goats (las cabras), horses (los caballos), and hens (las gallinas).

In the sugarbush, we stumbled on Mr. Wayne, one of our volunteers. He was wrapping up a day spent repairing tubing from squirrel damage. The squirrels like to munch the lines, creating holes that allow for the sap to leak. He uses a special tool, called a glomper, to cut out a section of line and insert a new section with a connector. He gave Ms. Brooke a refresher lesson on how to use this nifty tool.

Farm Sprouts then spotted a trail, which we followed and identified as a deer trail from the tracks. Not long down the trail, a Farm Sprout discovered a spike horn! Mr. Wayne headed down the trail as well to repair more tubing. Some Farm Sprouts joined in to observe and investigate. Others collected leaves and the rest tromped through a stretch of mud.

We stopped on the bridge to enjoy our sugarbush snack. Once we had nourished our bodies, we were feeling energized and ready to tap a sugar maple tree. We worked together to identify a maple, noting the difference between beech and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts took turns and worked together to drill, tap, and enjoy the thrill in seeing sap flow into their bucket! Next week we’ll check on our buckets. We’ve talked with Farm Sprouts about how they are an important part of our farm community this season as they contribute to the work involved on the farm. It’s an incredible experience to be able to work and learn alongside our volunteers to harvest Michigan’s first agricultural product of the year.

We enjoyed some time for journaling and self-guided play and discovery in the forest and everyone had a turn using the drill before returning to the sugar shack. We had the opportunity to taste sap that was partially boiled and on its way to become maple syrup. You can imagine that everyone wanted a second (or third) refill!

Farm Sprouts met one of the new lambs born last as we stopped near to the animal barn on the way back to say our goodbyes. We thought about the characteristics of mammals (warm-blooded, live birth, drinks milk from his mom) and the lamb’s body covering.

We’ll continue to work with real tools, accomplish authentic tasks, build new friendships, interact with our animals, and learn through play and discovery as we build our understandings of how sap becomes maple syrup! See you all next week!

 

 

Posted in Farm Sprouts | Tagged | Comments Off on Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #2 Wednesday PM

Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #2 Wednesday AM

Our second week brought some warm, spring-like weather for the last day in February. Farm Sprouts signed in by making some sugar maple tree bark rubbings on their journals and voted for blueberries or cranberries to help us plan for our sugarbush snack next week. We continued with working on our sugarbush mural, which had started last week with blue watercolor paint and started working on design plans for our own imaginative play sugar shack built out of cardboard boxes. Farm Sprouts came up with some really inventive design ideas. We’ll be gathering the supplies and materials they need to implement their plans so we can move on to the construction phase next week.

Also as a part of our welcome activities, Farm Sprouts harvested the pea shoots grown through our Sustainable Agriculture Program, which includes a C.S.A. We had checked on our flats of pea shoots in the greenhouse last week and noted they were just beginning to sprout. This week they had transformed into lush greens that were ready for us to taste! Farm Sprouts enjoyed the authentic task of harvesting shoots as they worked on their fine motor skills through the use of scissors. We boiled pasta and made our very own pea shoot pesto with extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, sea salt, and the shoots. A dash of lemon is a nice addition as well! We kept the nuts out of the recipe, but you could certainly include them if your family enjoys them and you wanted to try your hand at your own homemade version.

We are working with children to gain independence in dressing themselves. It is something you can work on at home as well! By having the gear they need accessible and visible to them, whether placed in their cubbies at farm school or laid out or hung somewhere they can easily reach and access at home, they can begin to work on skills related to self-care.

Once outside, we hiked our way to the sugarbush, stopping to visit our animals on the way. We greeted our animals in Spanish and English, including: cows (las vacas), sheep (las ovejas), goats (las cabras), horses (los caballos), and hens (las gallinas).

In the sugarbush, we returned the bridge to enjoy a break ad our sugarbush snack, pasta with pea shoot pesto. The morning group absolutely devoured the pesto!

Once we had nourished our bodies, we were feeling energized and ready to tap a sugar maple tree. We worked together to identify a maple, noting the difference between beech and sugar maple trees. Farm Sprouts took turns and worked together to drill, tap, and enjoy the thrill in seeing sap flow into their bucket! Next week we’ll check on our buckets. We’ve talked with Farm Sprouts about how they are an important part of our farm community this season as they contribute to the work involved on the farm. It’s an incredible experience to be able to work and learn alongside our volunteers to harvest Michigan’s first agricultural product of the year.

We enjoyed some time for journaling and self-guided play and discovery in the forest before returning to the sugar shack. We had the opportunity to taste sap that was partially boiled and on its way to become maple syrup. You can imagine that everyone wanted a second (or third) refill!

Farm Sprouts met one of the new lambs born last as we stopped near to the animal barn on the way back to say our goodbyes. We thought about the characteristics of mammals (warm-blooded, live birth, drinks milk from his mom) and the lamb’s body covering.

We’ll continue to work with real tools, accomplish authentic tasks, build new friendships, interact with our animals, and learn through play and discovery as we build our understandings of how sap becomes maple syrup! See you all next week!

Posted in Farm Sprouts | Tagged | Comments Off on Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #2 Wednesday AM

Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #1 Wednesday PM

It was one wet, muddy start to our maple sugaring season and the kids couldn’t have been happier about it! Our inquiry-based investigation focuses on exploring the essential question: How does sugar maple tree sap become maple syrup? To support our understanding of this farm to table process, we’ll consider driving questions, including: How do we get sap from trees?, What happens in a sugar bush? and How do trees help people and animals? As teacher guides, we’ll be modeling the scientific thinking process by thinking out loud some of these questions and encouraging Farm Sprouts to ask some of their own. Some are already thinking like scientists! Questions they have asked include: What is sap? and Is it (sap) going to be maple syrup? We kicked off getting our feet wet (literally and figuratively) with seeking answers to our many questions during our adventures this first week.

We include Farm Sprouts in the sign in process to provide them with a voice and sense of ownership in the program. They are invited to vote, this week for sugar maple or beech trees, which helps guide us in supporting their interests. For our early literacy sign in activity, Farm Sprouts stamped a snowflake or two by their names and although rain fell for days, there were still snow piles left on the farm. I wonder if it will snow again this winter? How do we know spring is coming? How could we find signs of spring? These are questions you can ask and explore with your children to help support the development of their scientific thinking skills. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers! Part of the joy of learning and modeling that joy is seeking new understandings together.

Farm Sprouts also removed corn kernels from corn grown at Tollgate. We popped corn for our snack today. How does corn grow? How does corn help people? We know Farm Sprouts love popcorn, especially when they have the chance to eat it in the Tollgate forest with our own maple syrup for dipping! It’s a well-loved Farm Sprouts tradition. Farm Sprouts gathered around the watch the kernels heat up, create steam, and pop! Some wondered if it was smoke they were seeing. It’s an early introduction to the water cycle, an important concept to understanding how sap becomes syrup.

We gathered today to introduce each other and build community. We shared a social stories to help support your children’s comfort level, including strategies for regulating temperature and using the bathroom. We made weather observations as we headed outside, noting the cloudy day and puddles everywhere. As stated, it is below freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day which cause the sap to run. The Next Generation Science Standards include weather and climate as a focus for kindergarteners. Naturally, through our program, we’ll be working to meet those standards as we “make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on the Earth’s surface” and “use and share information of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.” The outdoor environment provides children with opportunities to observe, predict, question, collaborate, and describe as they experience weather and its effects first-hand and through real-life applications. Hooray for farm and nature-based learning education!

Our journey to the sugar bush included a stop to splash in puddles and to climb the “snow mountain.” We rode on the wagon behind the tractor out to the forest, taking in the expanse of the farm and spotting the farm animals who call it home. As we approached the forest, we spotted the sugar shack, with piles of wood stacked up both inside and outside. We had a peak inside the sugar shack with Mr. Wayne, one of our dedicated volunteers. These volunteers begin working out in the forest in the summer months and through the fall with the tasks of chopping wood and repairing lines from damage made by squirrels. We moved from the sugar shack to the forest to figure out how to identify a sugar maple tree versus a beech tree (our forest is composed of mostly sugar maples and beech trees), make observations of what happens in a sugar bush, and begin to figure out what sap is and how we can collect it from a tree. Forest activities included collecting leaves and identifying sugar maple versus beech leaves, jumping in puddles, discovering holes and nests in trees made by animals, balancing on logs, and playing with sticks. We noted the tanks, tubes, and buckets that make the sugar bush special, all filling with the clear liquid that appears to be water, but which figured out was sap.

 

For our sugar bush snack, we rested in our gathering place on the bridge and enjoyed our popcorn with syrup and sliced, organic apples as we observed the water gushing along the stream. We enjoyed listening to the story, Winter on the Farm by Laura Ingalls Wilder, a story about a boy named Almanzo who lives on a farm long ago. In the story, he takes good care of the farm animals and then enjoys apples and popcorn at the end of a big day of work.

We witnessed old and newly-formed friendships. We maintain a low child-to-teacher ratio in order to support the interests and needs of the children within our outdoor, farm-based program. We believe in the importance of collaboration and developing social skills. The size of our program works well to allow for us to guide children through growth in these skills in a variety of social situations.

Before closing for the day, we met some of the animals in the barn, including our new black-faced lamb, and stopped by the greenhouse to meet some of the staff who grow the food and flowers on our site. Inside, we checked on the pea shoots, just beginning to sprout, that will become our snack next week!

We have the tradition of sharing the following quote with families on the first day of each season:

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” – David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia

We are grateful to have this opportunity to guide your children in building a deep connection to nature, to the sources of their food, and to the land in our urban Michigan community. We also want to show our appreciation to both Ms. Bonnie and Ms. Carmen, who filled in for Ms. Marilyn this week. Lastly, we are incredibly grateful for the maple sugaring volunteers and our operations crew for all they do to make this program possible. We look forward to seeing you all back at the farm for more discovery and adventures next week!

Posted in Farm Sprouts | Tagged | Comments Off on Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #1 Wednesday PM

Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #1 Wednesday AM

It was one wet, muddy start to our maple sugaring season and the kids couldn’t have been happier about it! Our inquiry-based investigation focuses on exploring the essential question: How does sugar maple tree sap become maple syrup? To support our understanding of this farm to table process, we’ll consider driving questions, including: How do we get sap from trees?, What happens in a sugar bush? and How do trees help people and animals? As teacher guides, we’ll be modeling the scientific thinking process by thinking out loud some of these questions and encouraging Farm Sprouts to ask some of their own. Some are already thinking like scientists! Questions they have asked include: What is sap? and Is it (sap) going to be maple syrup? We kicked off getting our feet wet (literally and figuratively) with seeking answers to our many questions during our adventures this first week.

We include Farm Sprouts in the sign in process to provide them with a voice and sense of ownership in the program. They are invited to vote, this week for sugar maple or beech trees, which helps guide us in supporting their interests. For our early literacy sign in activity, Farm Sprouts stamped a snowflake or two by their names and although rain fell for days, there were still snow piles left on the farm. I wonder if it will snow again this winter? How do we know spring is coming? How could we find signs of spring? These are questions you can ask and explore with your children to help support the development of their scientific thinking skills. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers! Part of the joy of learning and modeling that joy is seeking new understandings together.

Farm Sprouts also removed corn kernels from corn grown at Tollgate. We popped corn for our snack today. How does corn grow? How does corn help people? We know Farm Sprouts love popcorn, especially when they have the chance to eat it in the Tollgate forest with our own maple syrup for dipping! It’s a well-loved Farm Sprouts tradition. Farm Sprouts gathered around the watch the kernels heat up, create steam, and pop! Some wondered if it was smoke they were seeing. It’s an early introduction to the water cycle, an important concept to understanding how sap becomes syrup.

 

We gathered today to introduce each other and build community. We shared a social stories to help support your children’s comfort level, including strategies for regulating temperature and using the bathroom. We made weather observations as we headed outside, noting the cloudy day and puddles everywhere. As stated, it is below freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day which cause the sap to run. The Next Generation Science Standards include weather and climate as a focus for kindergarteners. Naturally, through our program, we’ll be working to meet those standards as we “make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on the Earth’s surface” and “use and share information of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.” The outdoor environment provides children with opportunities to observe, predict, question, collaborate, and describe as they experience weather and its effects first-hand and through real-life applications. Hooray for farm and nature-based learning education!

Our journey to the sugar bush included a stop to splash in puddles and to climb the “snow mountain.” We rode on the wagon behind the tractor out to the forest, taking in the expanse of the farm and spotting the farm animals who call it home. As we approached the forest, we spotted the sugar shack, with piles of wood stacked up both inside and outside. The morning group had the good fortune of stumbling on our hard working maple sugaring volunteers bringing in sap to be stored in the containers, repurposed from their days of holding milk. We observed them use a pump to move the sap up into the containers so that gravity could take the sap through the pipes into the sugar shack. It was then time to figure out how to identify a sugar maple tree versus a beech tree (our forest is composed of mostly sugar maples and beech trees), make observations of what happens in a sugar bush, and begin to figure out what sap is and how we can collect it from a tree. Forest activities included collecting leaves and identifying sugar maple versus beech leaves, jumping in puddles, discovering holes and nests in trees made by animals, balancing on logs, and playing with sticks. We noted the tanks, tubes, and buckets that make the sugar bush special, all filling with the clear liquid that appears to be water, but which figured out was sap.

 

For our sugar bush snack, we rested in our gathering place on the bridge and enjoyed our popcorn with syrup and sliced, organic apples as we observed the water gushing along the stream.

Before closing for the day, we met some of the animals in the barn, including our new black-faced lamb, and stopped by the greenhouse to meet some of the staff who grow the food and flowers on our site. Inside, we checked on the pea shoots, just beginning to sprout, that will become our snack next week!

We have the tradition of sharing the following quote with families on the first day of each season:

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” – David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia

We are grateful to have this opportunity to guide your children in building a deep connection to nature, to the sources of their food, and to the land in our urban Michigan community. We also want to show our appreciation to both Ms. Bonnie and Ms. Carmen, who filled in for Ms. Marilyn this week. Lastly, we are incredibly grateful for the maple sugaring volunteers and our operations crew for all they do to make this program possible. We look forward to seeing you all back at the farm for more discovery and adventures next week!

 

 

Posted in Farm Sprouts | Tagged | Comments Off on Winter Farm Sprouts 2018 – Week #1 Wednesday AM

Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #8 Wednesday PM

What a beautiful ending to our biggest season of Farm Sprouts yet! We grew so much, individually and as a group. Today we signed in by sharing our favorite memory of the season. Some memories included hiking out to the forest, working with the horses, riding behind the tractor, caring for the farm animals, and simply playing outside!

We ground corn to feed our chickens. In the winter especially, our animals rely on us to keep them strong and healthy. We feed them hay and feed. We learned a new word today – pasture! When our pastures are covered with snow, the animals aren’t able to graze in the fields. How do they stay warm? They are mammals, which means they are covered in fur and warm-blooded. We have sheds and barns for them to come in to warm up and straw to provide them with a place to rest. We also told stories with puppets and explored food groups and natural materials, like leaves, among other classroom activities before gathering as a group today.

We sang our song, “Oh, Fall is Here” one last time.

Oh, Fall Is Here
MSU Tollgate Farm Version
Sung To: “Oh, Christmas Tree”

Oh, fall is here. Oh, fall is here,
And wintertime is coming.
The squirrels get ready. Yes, they do.
They gather nuts to get them through. (gather nuts with hands)
The wintertime, cold wintertime,
It’s fall and winter’s coming.

Repeat the song, each time replacing the third and
fourth lines above with a different verse below.

The sheep get ready. Yes, they do.
They grow warm fleeces to get them through. (cover your body with fleece)

The trees get ready. Yes, they do.
They shed their leaves to get them through. (flutter “leaves” to the ground)

The goats get ready. Yes, they do.
They grow thick coats to get them through. (cover your body with fur)

The geese get ready. Yes, they do.
They migrate south to get them through. (flap your “wings”)

As a summative group assessment activity, we held a discussion about our Wonder Wall. We thought about all we learned about being a part of the farm community: how to be safe on the farm, how to think like scientists, how to do real work on the farm. We said, “We are strong!” “We are adventurous!” “We are appreciated!” We talked about what we had accomplished, discovered, learned, and contributed over the fall season. Then we joined together to create a mural representing our thoughts about our essential question.

After completing our mural, it was time to head outside to enjoy the last day! First, we had the task of accomplishing fall clean up by clearing out the garden bed near our classroom space. We transported the dead plant materials to our compost trailer. With that big job complete, we headed to the chicken coop to feed the chickens some of the grain we had ground earlier. We challenged our physical abilities in the straw maze, working to climb, balance, crouch, run, and jump! We stopped to visit the new, draft horses who spent their earlier years working at Greenfield Village and who would now spent their retirement years with us at the farm. Lastly, we hiked up to the silo for a snack and a story. We loved the smoothie and said good night and goodbye to the different areas of the farm by reading the book, Sleep Tight, Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter by Eugenie Doyle, a perfect closing to the season.

 

MSU Tollgate Farm “Silo Smoothies”

1-2 apples (from MSU Tollgate Farm)
1 cup rainbow chard (from MSU Tollgate Farm’s Sustainable Agriculture Program)
1 cup frozen Michigan cranberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup coconut water
2 Tbs. honey (from MSU Tollgate Farm and harvested by Clay Ottoni, SEMBA)
a handful of ice

We concluded with a race down the hill and a wagon ride around the farm with our families. Thank you all for your support and for the opportunity to help your children grow! #msuextension #gogreen #spartanswill

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Posted in Farm Sprouts | Tagged | Comments Off on Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #8 Wednesday PM