What a GIGANTIC day of exploration and learning. Where to begin? We welcomed our newest members Max and Mav to the farm today. They were quick to suggest soccer would be the best way to start the morning off. Time in the arena always leads madly off in all directions. Horse jumping, chalking, giant ball tag, and just whatever can be done with all that sand. Our chrysalis from last week had emerged as a spectacular female Monarch too, so we took time watching her feed on a peach in the butterfly tent.
Autumn is truly here and this group shows considerable talent for identifying leaves by shape, teeth edge and size. Matching leaves to trees is challenging but fun with the guidance of the book ‘Leaf Walk’ by Virginia Brimhall Snow. This book follows a grandmother and her granddaughter on a day of sharing the pleasure of raking leaves and identifying the tremendous variety of leaves in the own backyard. The raking turns in to the making of a leaf collection. The pictures are bright and so real looking it almost feels like you are viewing someone’s leaf collection.
Our leaf hunt led to a Horsechestnut tree and we competed with the squirrels to find the last chestnuts. A small squeeze of this warty shell, and it opens to reveal a treasured shiny conker inside. This became a ‘must have’ item on everyone's list. Bags filled up with a mix of leaves, seed pods, and late summer flowers. The book ‘Leaf Man’ hooked our imagination for what can be created with leaves. Take a look at these creations. Do you see Leaf Man? We had a leaf goose, leaf bride and groom, fat leaf man, and so much ingenuity. Of course we had to turn this art into a leaf storm!
The hayloft deserves its own chapter in this blog. Climbing is fun, but JuMpInG is even better. We had most of the kids take flight! Lucky there was a soft landing in years of accumulated straw on the old barn floor. Have a chat about the hayloft, what is stored there, and how your child enjoyed this part of our day.
Fall is the time of harvest, and the kids were surprised by the sudden change in the cornfield. What had happened here? Thoughts ranged from a windstorm to hungry animals, but we finally reached the conclusion that a BIG machine had taken the corn away. So much corn was left over, so we used this bounty game of mouse/owl camouflage. Max and Clay were so still we could hardly spot them. This game of patience leads us to being comfortable being alone and quiet, developing future skills for sit spot reflection. You may find a cob of corn in your child's backpack. This is organic sweet corn, so happy eating!
We made it all the way to the backwoods log circle for some wander time. Check out the corn chowder kitchen, framed shelters, boat/raft building and sailing time. Ask your child what they chose to do for wander time and who they played with.
On our hike back to the farm we detoured to the cornfield milkweed patch we had visited last week. So much has changed here. Milkweed plants were cut down and strewn everywhere. It was a hard realization that agriculture has some unintended consequences. Thankfully Oakan spotted a lone monarch caterpillar on a downed milkweed plant and we took turns tenderly carrying this little guy back to our safe bump up tent. This is so an important part of nature school, buidling interest in becoming an environmental caretaker.
Our time with the horses involved caring for their needs today. Grooming Jester and Sable, cleaning a stall with pitchfork and shovel, and feeding some welcome treats. We are beginning to notice the individual temperaments of these sensitive animals and recognize the signals they give to show their feelings and reflect ours.
The chickens and Bubbles the duck respond to patience and quiet. Feeding and watching these birds is interesting and builds a caring connection. We must be gentle and kind to get shy animals to come to us and trust our actions. Great learning for all of us!
Here are some questions to help your child consolidate some the learning today…
*What are the stages you saw of the butterfly lifecycle? What is happening in each stage?
*How do you brush a horse, what brushes do you use? How do you feed a treat safely?
*Do you know the names of the chickens? What do you notice about their behaviour?
*What was your favourite part of the day and who did you enjoy playing with?
*Are there other children you would like to get to know better?
*Can you show me how you end each day at nature school? Do you know the saying and song?
Thanks so much to Sam (Sparrow) who came to help today. We missed our other nature mentor, Daisy, who is ill at home with Covid. Hope to see her back next week:) We always love when Avonlea (Heron) comes. Today she was busy teaching us about cleaning out the barn. She is an amazing help to us at Stoneridge Farm.
Looking forward to more adventures together next week Forest Friends.