Spring Farm Sprouts 2017 – Week #5 (PM)

Tractors, worms, and chicks, oh my! We had a full morning at the farm using our senses to explore. We signed in this week by forming letters with yarn and began talking about the properties of wool in preparation for visiting the sheep. We had a guest teacher this week. Mr. Alan joined the afternoon group and we greatly enjoyed having him with us! Upon arrival, Mr. Alan assisted children with meeting the four chicks hatched during our incubator project. It is powerful for children to see the full life cycle of a chicken, from studying embryology to visiting our pastured chickens. We also checked in with our decomposition experiment, making it “rain” in the bags. We’ll continue to observe what happens to the natural materials we added to the soil in our bags in the coming weeks.

During our large group meeting, we celebrated our chick hatching with another round of singing and dancing to “Josefina la gallina.” Many thanks to Nicole Simmons, our Animal Care Coordinator, for supporting us with our incubation project! We took a look at our Wonder Wall, recalling past experiences and creating connections to construct new understandings. Our Wonder Wall includes documentation of our learning experiences, including photos, quotes, and journal entries. During a discussion on how eggs are like seeds, one Farm Sprout said, “They have shells. They come out… trees and chickens.”

Outside near the Children’s Garden, we worked on completing our ongoing process-based art project, dissected plants, and explored our vermicomposting bin. Our project is now ready to go home next week. We enjoyed choosing plants for dissection. Farm Sprouts utilized various tools and materials, such as tweezers, scissors, pipettes, magnifying lenses, and sorting trays to learn more about how they grow, with a sensory table full of water available to support the investigation. Farm Sprouts came upon wild carrots and strawberries growing in our old orchard! We also discovered worm eggs in our bin and cared for the worms by adding newspaper strips, carrot peels, and a misting of water to the bin to keep our red wigglers healthy and comfortable. We will spend more time with the bin in the coming weeks.

At the Animal Barn, we had the opportunity to observe sheep shearing and handle some fresh, raw wool. We noticed the oil on the wool, feeling the lanolin on our fingers. We returned to our sensory table to utilize pipettes and spray bottles to better understand the purpose of the lanolin. We’ll return to working with sheep before the end of the season.

For our snack this week we had voted for apricots. We compared apricots to kiwis, noticing the difference in the seeds. How do seeds become baby plants? How do seeds travel? What would happen if an animal ate an apricot seed or any seed? We’ll be pondering these questions more as we continue to hunt for seeds and study plants as we go on adventures around the farm. We talked about growing seasons and why local Michigan fruits are not readily available in the spring in Michigan. We noted the difference between the skin of a kiwi to the skin of an apricot. It’s interesting we don’t mind eating the skins of some fruits, but not others.

Next, we headed to the greenhouse to transplant our sunflowers. They had grown several inches. Some of our plants still had the seed coat attached! One child said, “I didn’t expect them to have grown so much!” It would be interesting to compare growth rates to sunflowers started in the greenhouse to those started elsewhere, such as in our classroom or outdoors next year to find out why a greenhouse may be beneficial and plant requirements for healthy grow. On our way to the garden, we visited our animals out to pasture and observed a tractor at work, collecting compost to take out to our C.S.A. garden. Farm Sprouts placed a great deal of care into planting their sunflowers. We also stumbled on potato beetles on our plants and helped remove them, plus we stopped by our bee hives, which we’ll inspect more closely in June. The rainy weather forecasted will certainly provide our sunflowers with the water they need to grow in their new environment to be harvested next fall by the next season of Farm Sprouts!

We closed the day with reading The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony, the perfect ending to a day of exploring cycles in nature.

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