Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #6 Tuesday PM

The weather shifted this week to damp and cool, but it didn’t keep us from heading out into the forest! Today we help our traditional “Forest Day,” a highlight of the season for many. We dedicate an entire day to exploring in the forest because it takes our legs a while to hike out there and back. By now, Farm Sprouts who are newer to our farm community have developed a stronger sense of place. This is an important step in becoming environmentally literate. Once children become familiar and knowledgeable about a place, they can move towards feeling a sense of ownership and eventually a sense of stewardship within their community. These early years are the perfect time to expose them to a place they can grow to love and appreciate. We value and appreciate the opportunity to provide Tollgate as one of these special places in your child’s life!

We signed in today by writing the first letter of our names or full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. We voted for squirrels or woodpeckers, two wild animals that eat nuts. We decorated binoculars to help us spot interesting discoveries. Farm Sprouts also had the opportunity to “pound a pumpkin” utilizing a hammer and nails. How do pumpkins grow? Life cycle cards helped guide us in thinking about how the bright, orange pumpkin ended up in our classroom. Large tree cookies and other tree objects were available for exploration at our discovery table.

We gathered to prepare popcorn grown at Tollgate for a snack in the forest. Our discussion before heading out included: What kinds of plants and animals might we discover in the forest? How do trees prepare for winter? Who eats seeds? We read The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan to think about perspective, an important skill to develop as a part of systems thinking. Many thanks to Joan Hess and Sue Grady and their families for the donation of the book and glasses! We thought about the difference between binoculars, glasses, and magnifying glasses to help us see the world in different ways. We then struck out to hike to the forest to practice our new “looking” skills and to explore these questions more deeply.

Today we formed buddies for our journey into the forest. On the way, we said, “Hello!” and “¡Hola!” to our horses (caballos), cows (vacas), and the visiting geese. In the forest, we challenged Farm Sprouts to find a giant-sized leaf, a tiny leaf, different colored leaves, maple seeds, or other nuts and seeds. Gathering natural materials by size and shape and sorting them are an integral part of developing early mathematical thinking. We talked about beech and maple trees and tried to identify them by looking at the bark and leaves. We also observed a moment of silence to focus on our our sense of hearing, but mostly heard the road. We did find samaras (maple tree seeds) and touched on collecting sap and how we make syrup at Tollgate. Our special discoveries included interesting stumps, moss, mushrooms, and a large turkey feather. The front of our group saw a wild turkey just outside the CSA garden. As we started into the forest we saw a flock of wild turkeys in the far distance!  Farm Sprouts also had fun balancing across a log and trying to fit into a shelter, great physical movement activities to use our bodies in different ways.

To conclude the day, we enjoyed our popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Yum! We really enjoyed this tasty, sweet treat and showed our gratitude to the trees for producing it for us. We documented our discoveries in our journals. We munched and enjoyed listening to the book, Trout Are Made of Trees, by April Pulley Sayre. It is a neat story that explores systems and the interconnectedness of plant and animal life, including fish, insects, leaves, and trees!

“Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist Winter. In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #6 Tuesday AM

The weather shifted this week to damp and cool, but it didn’t keep us from heading out into the forest! Today we help our traditional “Forest Day,” a highlight of the season for many. We dedicate an entire day to exploring in the forest because it takes our legs a while to hike out there and back. By now, Farm Sprouts who are newer to our farm community have developed a stronger sense of place. This is an important step in becoming environmentally literate. Once children become familiar and knowledgeable about a place, they can move towards feeling a sense of ownership and eventually a sense of stewardship within their community. These early years are the perfect time to expose them to a place they can grow to love and appreciate. We value and appreciate the opportunity to provide Tollgate as one of these special places in your child’s life!

We signed in today by writing the first letter of our names or full name on a “tree cookie,” a slice of a tree, with chalk. We voted for squirrels or woodpeckers, two wild animals that eat nuts. We decorated binoculars to help us spot interesting discoveries. Farm Sprouts also had the opportunity to “pound a pumpkin” utilizing a hammer and nails. How do pumpkins grow? Life cycle cards helped guide us in thinking about how the bright, orange pumpkin ended up in our classroom. Large tree cookies and other tree objects were available at the discovery table for exploration.

We gathered to prepare popcorn grown at Tollgate for a snack in the forest. Our discussion before heading out included: What kinds of plants and animals might we discover in the forest? How do trees prepare for winter? Who eats seeds? We read The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan to think about perspective, an important skill to develop as a part of systems thinking. Many thanks to Joan Hess and Sue Grady and their families for the donation of the book and glasses! We thought about the difference between binoculars, glasses, and magnifying glasses to help us see the world in different ways. We then struck out to hike to the forest to practice our new “looking” skills and to explore these questions more deeply.

Today we formed buddies for our journey into the forest. On the way, we said, “Hello!” and “!Hola!” to our horses (caballos), cows (vacas), and the visiting geese. In the forest, we challenged Farm Sprouts to find a giant-sized leaf, a tiny leaf, different colored leaves, maple seeds, or other nuts and seeds. Gathering natural materials by size and shape and sorting them are an integral part of developing early mathematical thinking. We observed a moment of silence to focus on our our sense of hearing, but mostly heard the road. We did find samaras (maple tree seeds) and touched on collecting sap and how we make syrup at Tollgate. Our special discoveries included crane flies and a spider under a log.

To conclude the day, we enjoyed our popcorn with Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Yum! We really enjoyed this tasty, sweet treat and showed our gratitude to the trees for producing it for us. We documented our discoveries in our journals. We munched and enjoyed listening to the book, Trout Are Made of Trees, by April Pulley Sayre. It is a neat story that explores systems and the interconnectedness of plant and animal life, including fish, insects, leaves, and trees!

“Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist Winter. In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle.” – Henry David Thoreau

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #5 Wednesday PM

Hay is for horses! To continue our investigation into how plants and animals prepare for winter and what animals need to survive, we focused our attention on our largest animals at the farm this week – horses! This was a big experience for all of our Farm Sprouts, even for the few who have been around horses previously. Richard Louv states, “Other species help children develop empathy.” Providing young children with opportunities to care for and interact with animals supports the development of self-confidence and self-esteem in young children, in addition to many valuable skills. How do horses stay healthy and strong? How do we keep our bodies healthy and strong? We found out we have a lot in common with horses!

We signed in this week by tracing the first letter of our name or our entire name in the sand of a miniature horse arena. We also voted for maple or oak leaves. We’ll be heading into the forest next week and plan to explore our largest plants on the farm – trees! We’ve seen an increased interest in insects these last couple weeks, so the forest will be an ideal place to narrow our focus to discover some of our smallest creatures living on the farm. We’ll also consider how trees grow and how trees support the survival of animals, including humans! Some animals eat and store the nuts of trees to help them survive the winter. How do wild animals prepare for winter in comparison to our farm animals? There is so much to discuss and learn as we explore these ideas! There are many systems in place and it is interesting to discover the connections between the plant and animal life that call the barns, pond, pastures, and forest at Tollgate their home. There is always more to learn!

It was time to harvest the lettuce we had grown. We noted the differences in growth between our greenhouse lettuce cared for by Farm Sprouts and our farmers compared to the pots cared for by nature. The greenhouse lettuce was by far was the healthiest lettuce for each of the groups, which sparked conversation about why this was the case. We utilized scissors as a very authentic fine motor development task to harvest the lettuce and then worked as a group to prepare a “Tollgate Horse Smoothie,” which included foods a horse would enjoy as a treat. The scraps from our smoothie and a bit of lettuce went into our compost container to feed to our horses a little later. We proceeded to try the smoothie as we geared up for our walk to the horse arena to provide us with the strength and energy of a horse for the work and play that we had in store. We also harvested more sunflower seeds and explored some other seeds discovered around the farm.

MSU Tollgate Farm Horse Smoothie

2 local apples (Tollgate)
2 organic carrots
½ cup lettuce (grown by Farm Sprouts)
1 cup coconut water, chilled
½ organic lemon, juiced
1-2 Tbs. local honey (Tollgate)
1 cup ice

Before we entered the arena, we talked about another food horses enjoy – hay! We held up two small bales of straw and hay. Most actually thought the straw bale was the hay, so they may now have a little better understanding of the difference between straw and hay. We noted the hay smelled a bit sweet and is green, not yellow. We grow our own hay for our farm animals at Tollgate and harvest it in preparation for the winter season, when our pastures may be covered with snow and the animals need the additional forage to support a healthy diet.

Our first chore was to brush the horses. We learned the difference between a curry comb and a body brush and went to work! We noticed the soft fur. All of the children participated in this authentic work. Ms. Nicole also showed us a hoof pick and we compared our bodies to the horse’s body. We also talked about mammals and their attributes. We know that mammals have warm bodies, make milk for their young, and have fur or hair. We can name several mammals now on the farm and recognize that we are mammals, too!

It was then time for rides and our Invitations to Play. This week’s invitations included the sensory table filled with another food horses enjoy – oats! We had scoops, troughs, and horses to accompany the oats, as well as a bit of hay. We had a wooden horse, a straw horse with a real saddle, and stick horses available to ride in our green arena. We also had a spectator area and Farm Sprouts enjoyed journaling on their experiences.

The bravery, joy, and raw emotion were so apparent on the faces of the children. This was such a big experience and accomplishment for many, as the majority of Farm Sprouts were getting up on a horse for the first time. We chanted, “We are strong! We are brave! We are adventurous!” All of the children worked with the horses, cared for the horses, and rode a horse, whether it was a straw horse, stick horse, wooden horse, as well as a real horse! So for all, this was a powerful, independent experience to build self-confidence and self-esteem. Farm Sprouts fed the horses a snack after finishing with their rides and play.

After our time with the horses, it was time to turn back to the plant world. We hiked out to our pumpkin patch, through our C.S.A. garden, to explore the life cycle of a pumpkin. We found seeds, vines, flower blossoms, both open and closed, the small fruit just beginning to form, as well as green and orange pumpkins. Pumpkins in nearly every stage! We dissected a pumpkin to answer some of the questions we heard, such as “What is the gooey stuff for?” Farm Sprouts also had the opportunity to pound nails in a pumpkin, a super popular activity that will surely return next week.

On our hike back, we found a praying mantis! After washing up our hard-working hands, we munched carrot sticks like horses and listened to a story, Leaves by David Ezra Stein, in preparation for our adventures in the forest next week. Give your Farm Sprout(s) a big hug! They are amazing little people!

Many thanks to Nicole Simmons, our Animal Care Coordinator, and Deb Morgan, our 4-H Program Coordinator, for their support with this program. Interested in horses and 4-H? Check out Oakland County 4-H or visit our summer camp website for more information about our camp offerings, including horse camp!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #5 Wednesday AM

Hay is for horses! To continue our investigation into how plants and animals prepare for winter and what animals need to survive, we focused our attention on our largest animals at the farm this week – horses! This was a big experience for all of our Farm Sprouts, even for the few who have been around horses previously. Richard Louv states, “Other species help children develop empathy.” Providing young children with opportunities to care for and interact with animals supports the development of self-confidence and self-esteem in young children, in addition to many valuable skills. How do horses stay healthy and strong? How do we keep our bodies healthy and strong? We found out we have a lot in common with horses!

We signed in this week by tracing the first letter of our name or our entire name in the sand of a miniature horse arena. We also voted for maple or oak leaves. We’ll be heading into the forest next week and plan to explore our largest plants on the farm – trees! We’ve seen an increased interest in insects these last couple weeks, so the forest will be an ideal place to narrow our focus to discover some of our smallest creatures living on the farm. We’ll also consider how trees grow and how trees support the survival of animals, including humans! Some animals eat and store the nuts of trees to help them survive the winter. How do wild animals prepare for winter in comparison to our farm animals? There is so much to discuss and learn as we explore these ideas! There are many systems in place and it is interesting to discover the connections between the plant and animal life that call the barns, pond, pastures, and forest at Tollgate their home. There is always more to learn!

It was time to harvest the lettuce we had grown. We noted the differences in growth between our greenhouse lettuce cared for by Farm Sprouts and our farmers compared to the pots cared for by nature. The greenhouse lettuce was by far was the healthiest lettuce for each of the groups, which sparked conversation about why this was the case. We utilized scissors as a very authentic fine motor development task to harvest the lettuce and then worked as a group to prepare a “Tollgate Horse Smoothie,” which included foods a horse would enjoy as a treat. The scraps from our smoothie and a bit of lettuce went into our compost container to feed to our horses a little later. We proceeded to try the smoothie as we geared up for our walk to the horse arena to provide us with the strength and energy of a horse for the work and play that we had in store. We also harvested more sunflower seeds and explored some other seeds discovered around the farm.

MSU Tollgate Farm Horse Smoothie

2 local apples (Tollgate)
2 organic carrots
½ cup lettuce (grown by Farm Sprouts)
1 cup coconut water, chilled
½ organic lemon, juiced
1-2 Tbs. local honey (Tollgate)
1 cup ice

Before we entered the arena, we talked about another food horses enjoy – hay! We held up two small bales of straw and hay. Most actually thought the straw bale was the hay, so they may now have a little better understanding of the difference between straw and hay. We noted the hay smelled a bit sweet and is green, not yellow. We grow our own hay for our farm animals at Tollgate and harvest it in preparation for the winter season, when our pastures may be covered with snow and the animals need the additional forage to support a healthy diet.

Our first chore was to brush the horses. We learned the difference between a curry comb and a body brush and went to work! We noticed the soft fur. All of the children participated in this authentic work. Ms. Nicole also showed us a hoof pick and we compared our bodies to the horse’s body. We also talked about mammals and their attributes. We know that mammals have warm bodies, make milk for their young, and have fur or hair. We can name several mammals now on the farm and recognize that we are mammals, too! 

It was then time for rides and our Invitations to Play. This week’s invitations included the sensory table filled with another food horses enjoy – oats! We had scoops, troughs, and horses to accompany the oats, as well as a bit of hay. We had a wooden horse, a straw horse with a real saddle, and stick horses available to ride in our green arena. We also had a spectator area and Farm Sprouts enjoyed journaling on their experiences.

The bravery, joy, and raw emotion were so apparent on the faces of the children. This was such a big experience and accomplishment for many, as the majority of Farm Sprouts were getting up on a horse for the first time. We chanted, “We are strong! We are brave! We are adventurous!” All of the children worked with the horses, cared for the horses, and rode a horse, whether it was a straw horse, stick horse, wooden horse, as well as a real horse! So for all, this was a powerful, independent experience to build self-confidence and self-esteem.

We fed our smoothie scraps to a horse for a treat. After washing up our hard-working hands, we munched carrot sticks like horses and listened to a story, Leaves by David Ezra Stein, in preparation for our adventures in the forest next week. Give your Farm Sprout(s) a big hug! They are amazing little people!

Many thanks to Nicole Simmons, our Animal Care Coordinator, and Deb Morgan, our 4-H Program Coordinator, for their support with this program. Interested in horses and 4-H? Check out Oakland County 4-H or visit our summer camp website for more information about our camp offerings, including horse camp!

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Fall Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #5 Tuesday PM

Hay is for horses! To continue our investigation into how plants and animals prepare for winter and what animals need to survive, we focused our attention on our largest animals at the farm this week – horses! This was a big experience for all of our Farm Sprouts, even for the few who have been around horses previously. Richard Louv states, “Other species help children develop empathy.” Providing young children with opportunities to care for and interact with animals supports the development of self-confidence and self-esteem in young children, in addition to many valuable skills. How do horses stay healthy and strong? How do we keep our bodies healthy and strong? We found out we have a lot in common with horses!

We signed in this week by tracing the first letter of our name or our entire name in the sand of a miniature horse arena. We also voted for maple or oak leaves. We’ll be heading into the forest next week and plan to explore our largest plants on the farm – trees! We’ve seen an increased interest in insects these last couple weeks, so the forest will be an ideal place to narrow our focus to discover some of our smallest creatures living on the farm. We’ll also consider how trees grow and how trees support the survival of animals, including humans! Some animals eat and store the nuts of trees to help them survive the winter. How do wild animals prepare for winter in comparison to our farm animals? There is so much to discuss and learn as we explore these ideas! There are many systems in place and it is interesting to discover the connections between the plant and animal life that call the barns, pond, pastures, and forest at Tollgate their home. There is always more to learn!

It was time to harvest the lettuce we had grown. We noted the differences in growth between our greenhouse lettuce cared for by Farm Sprouts and our farmers compared to the pots cared for by nature. Our pot cared for by nature happened to have a spider living in it, which we caught and later released in the pumpkin patch! The greenhouse lettuce was by far was the healthiest lettuce for each of the groups, which sparked conversation about why this was the case. We utilized scissors as a very authentic fine motor development task to harvest the lettuce and then worked as a group to prepare a “Tollgate Horse Smoothie,” which included foods a horse would enjoy as a treat. The scraps from our smoothie and a bit of lettuce went into our compost container to feed to our horses a little later. We proceeded to try the smoothie as we geared up for our walk to the horse arena to provide us with the strength and energy of a horse for the work and play that we had in store. We also harvested more sunflower seeds and explored some other seeds discovered around the farm.

MSU Tollgate Farm Horse Smoothie

2 local apples (Tollgate)
2 organic carrots
½ cup lettuce (grown by Farm Sprouts)
1 cup coconut water, chilled
½ organic lemon, juiced
1-2 Tbs. local honey (Tollgate)
1 cup ice

Before we entered the arena, we talked about another food horses enjoy – hay! We held up two small bales of straw and hay. Most actually thought the straw bale was the hay, so they may now have a little better understanding of the difference between straw and hay. We noted the hay smelled a bit sweet and is green, not yellow. We grow our own hay for our farm animals at Tollgate and harvest it in preparation for the winter season, when our pastures may be covered with snow and the animals need the additional forage to support a healthy diet.

Our first chore was to brush the horses. We learned the difference between a curry comb and a body brush and went to work! We noticed the soft fur. All of the children participated in this authentic work. Ms. Nicole also showed us a hoof pick and we compared our bodies to the horse’s body. We also talked about mammals and their attributes. We know that mammals have warm bodies, make milk for their young, and have fur or hair. We can name several mammals now on the farm and recognize that we are mammals, too!

It was then time for rides and our Invitations to Play. This week’s invitations included the sensory table filled with another food horses enjoy – oats! We had scoops, troughs, and horses to accompany the oats, as well as a bit of hay. We had a wooden horse, a straw horse with a real saddle, and stick horses available to ride in our green arena. We also had a spectator area and Farm Sprouts enjoyed journaling on their experiences.

The bravery, joy, and raw emotion were so apparent on the faces of the children. This was such a big experience and accomplishment for many, as the majority of Farm Sprouts were getting up on a horse for the first time. We chanted, “We are strong! We are brave! We are adventurous!” All of the children worked with the horses, cared for the horses, and rode a horse, whether it was a straw horse, stick horse, wooden horse, as well as a real horse! So for all, this was a powerful, independent experience to build self-confidence and self-esteem. We all helped feed the horses a treat after the rides and play.

It was then time to turn back to the plant world. We hiked out to our pumpkin patch, through our C.S.A. garden, to explore the life cycle of a pumpkin. We found seeds, vines, flower blossoms, both open and closed, the small fruit just beginning to form, as well as green and orange pumpkins. Pumpkins in nearly every stage! We dissected a pumpkin to answer some of the questions we heard, such as “What is the gooey stuff for?” Farm Sprouts also had the opportunity to pound nails in a pumpkin, a super popular activity that will surely return next week.

After washing up our hard-working hands, we munched carrot sticks like horses and listened to a story, Leaves by David Ezra Stein, in preparation for our adventures in the forest next week. Give your Farm Sprout(s) a big hug! They are amazing little people!

Many thanks to Nicole Simmons, our Animal Care Coordinator, and Deb Morgan, our 4-H Program Coordinator, for their support with this program. Interested in horses and 4-H? Check out Oakland County 4-H or visit our summer camp website for more information about our camp offerings, including horse camp!

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