It was a beautiful day at MSU Tollgate Farm this Tuesday! We began the day by tracing the first letter of our names in sand, matching the first letter of our name and some imaginative play with farm animals and green play dough. The farm animals were fed, climbed mountains and played in the grass.
It was then time to head outside for the rest of the day! In the garden, Sprouts had the chance to make soil soup, dissect plants and sort by their parts, start oregano seeds in the clay pots they painted last week and/or watercolor paint an oval shape. We had diagrams of both a seed and an egg on the easel as inspiration, along with the gorgeous view of the farm. This time of day is the “Invitation to Play, Explore, Experiment” and preschoolers are free to move around to what interests them with encouragement to try something new as well.
During our large group, we discussed what we know about seeds, how they came in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to grow plants. We gave each child a bean which had been soaked overnight so we could rub off the seed coat, which protects the seed, and peer inside to see the embryo, or baby plant, and the cotyledons, which provide the plant the burst of energy it needs to grow. We’ll continue to wonder about what is happening below the ground in a garden to make it grow in the coming weeks.
We sang our song about the sun again in Spanish from when we acted out the life cycle of a seed to begin our exploration of what a seed needs to grow, along with a song about planting seeds:
Lyrics for “Sol, solecito”
Sol, solecito (sun, little sun)
Caliéntame un poquito (warm me up a little)
Por hoy por mañana (today and tomorrow)
Por toda la semana (and through the week)
Lyrics for “A Little Seed”
I plant a little seed in the dark, dark ground
Out comes the warm sun, yellow and round
Down comes the cool rain, wet and slow
Up comes the little plant, grow, grow, grow
For our animal chores today, we took care of the ducks and our goose. We talked about how to be gentle with the animals and how to feed them. We collected three duck eggs and one large goose egg! Sprouts also worked to feed the ducks and we made observations, noticing their webbed feet, feathers and bills. Next week we’ll explore chicken embryology and think about the question, “How are eggs like seeds?” Both groups voted to spend some time with the goats and now we are ready as we’ve talked about and rehearsed how to behave around farm animals to keep both the animals and ourselves safe. The afternoon group also checked on the calves, who had moved their grazing close to the fence line.
For snack we had cucumbers and chatted about our favorite foods. A few Sprouts were not very fond of cucumbers, but decided to be adventurous and give them a try anyway. They were described as juicy, crunchy, fresh tasting and green.
The groups each headed to different areas of the farm for our hike. The morning group opted to explore the Children’s Garden and discovered frogs in the pond! The afternoon group chose to go further afield to the Educational Gardens, where we discovered beekeepers at work. Some of us even had the chance to observe a honeybee pollinating a dandelion! We checked out our sunflowers in the greenhouse, noticing they had sprouted. We will all return again to transplant the sunflowers from the greenhouse to our Educational Garden, as contributors to our farm community in the springtime. We have a lot of work going on in the gardens on behalf of staff, volunteers and children, which is exciting to see. For our nature journals this week, we took a close look at plants, finding one which appealed to us to document from our adventures in the gardens. Several chose to draw Purple Deadnettle, which is a member of the mint family and has a purplish flower. It is a springtime plant we’re seeing in abundance at the moment, but will soon wilt away once the weather heats up.
For closing, we read, “The Dandelion Seed,” by Joseph A. Anthony and shared our thanks for the day. See you all next week!