Head Start Fall 2021 – Day 2

 

With all ten classes of Frederick County’s Head Start program making their way out to the farm for field trips, we have been having endless fun here at Stoney Lick Farm! If you haven’t already read about our programs on the first day of farm visits, read all about it here. Here on this post, you’ll find what we’ve been up to on the second day of programs for our Head Start preschoolers.

 

 

Morning

When the kids arrive on the second day, we start the day by going exploring! For this activity, we break into small groups and head out into the woods. Everyone carries a metal bucket with them to collect their treasures from the trails and fields. We quickly amass a number of pine cones, leaves, sticks, hickory nuts, acorns, and rocks. We sometimes collect more rare treasures like quince, vibrant magnolia seeds, and beaver chewing. After about forty-five minutes of exploration, we head back to the pavilion to start our nature art.

Here at the paper-covered picnic tables, we give the kids paint, but no paint brushes. They must use what they found out in the woods to stamp, paint, and generally decorate the paper. Soon enough, it is time to get washed up and ready for lunch.

 

Afternoon

After lunch in the pavilion and some time for free play, we gather again for a story. This time, we read Ready for an Egg Hunt (read it here). This wonderful story leads into our egg hunt activity, during which the kids scour the farm for plastic eggs filled with chicken food. When we’ve found them all, we head to the chicken pen and feed the hens our treats. 

 

After the chickens are done eating, we head over to the hay playground to romp in the hay and swing from ropes. This is certainly a favorite spot on the farm! Finally, we end our day with a wagon ride around the farm before boarding the bus and heading back to school. We then say our goodbyes and look forward to seeing everyone at their classrooms this winter!

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

Wellspring Homeschoolers

Earlier this month, we were happy to host a farm field trip for Wellspring Christian Family Schools. The 30+ attendees included parents and children of all ages – including two tiny babies! June, one of our farm dogs, took it upon herself to lick one baby’s face clean before we even got into the farm experience. Once all the families had arrived, we headed out for a hike around the property, making sure to climb on all the Pine Cathedral’s benches, admire the rainbow teepee left to us by the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, investigate the work of the beavers, and so much more. Though the strollers struggled with one muddy shortcut, everyone was in high spirits as we returned to the main barn area.

Here, we headed out into the horse field to learn a bit about Icelandic Horses. As Joy, our barn manager, educated everyone on the history and habits of the Icelandic Horse, the kids groomed Fandi, Snuder, and Bylgia. They took special joy in picking out the horses’ hooves. After enjoying our time with the horses, we headed to the adjacent field where the goats were grazing. Our wonderful Flint and Arrow charmed everyone.

Shortly after, the families headed to the pavilion for a picnic lunch and to run free for a bit. Our day ended with the kids climbing up and down our old stone wall with great gusto. Until next time!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Monocacy Valley Montessori Program

Last week, we were charmed by the 7th and 8th graders of the Monocacy Valley Montessori School. These students came out for a full day of farm fun, led by teacher Zoe Alexandratos. We started the day by taking all 55 students on a hike around the property. The students were delighted to navigate the stream and investigate the beaver lodge as we went. Upon returning to the farm, we broke up into three groups for smaller activities – animal time, nature art, and boat building. The students spent about thirty minutes at each station before rotating on to the next experience. 

Animal time took place all around the main farm area. The kids learned to groom horses in the barn, spent timing loving the goats, and took turns holding and petting our chickens. They were delighted by the horses’ furry bodies, the goats’ general silliness, and the soft kindness of the chickens.

Miss Zoe led the nature art lesson in our Dawn Redwood trees in our arboretum. Here, the children crafted works of great beauty using materials they found on the ground around them. My personal favorite was the shredded leaf rainbow one girl created.

The third activity was led by another teacher – building boats down at the pond. The students are working on a ‘forces’ study in their school curriculum right now, so they were investigating how different materials floated and moved on the pond’s water. 

After everyone had cycled between each of the activities, they met back up in the pavilion for lunch. The students ate and romped about with great enthusiasm until it was time to return to school. 

We so enjoyed this boisterous group of students and hope they will return soon for more farm fun!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

November Litter Pick Up

On November 4th, we ThorpeWood folks headed out once again to honor our commitment to keep Catoctin Hollow Road clean. In addition to the core ThorpeWood team, we were joined by volunteers Barb Palatucci and Theresa Fallon. With their help, we were able to conquer the 3.5 miles of road from Route 15 to Mink Farm Road. 

Along this stretch, we filled trash bags with discarded beer cans, take-out containers, lost shoes, and other curious items buried in new-fallen leaves. There were also, of course, the bigger ticket items that could not be stashed and hauled in our black plastic bags. This time around, we found seven tires in the stream that parallels the road. Rolling these muck-filled tires back up the ravine is always a fun challenge – and feels like a great service to the otherwise pristine stream which had been burdened with their presence.

After a few hours of work, we all head back to the heated tack room for hot tea, biscotti, and stroopwafels. Road clean-up is such a fun and wonderful way to serve the mountain beauty that takes care of us each and every day. If you’d like to join us for our next outing (as of now planned for February 2 – Groundhog’s Day), please email [email protected]! Hope to see you then…

 

Posted in Activities for You, Nature Preserve, Volunteering

Head Start Fall 2021 – Day 1

We cannot overstate how exceptionally pleased we are to have Head Start back on the farm for their regular fall field trips! This year, because nine of the ten classes are full-day programs, each class is spending a total of seven hours with us over the course of two days. Compared to our old schedule of four one-hour sessions, this change of schedule is certainly a superior way of experiencing the farm. The students really get to settle into their day here during those three and a half hours.

Here’s a taste of what the first day of the program looks like:

Morning

The students arrive on their bus and get their nametags on. We introduce them to our morning activity with the story What’s That Sound? (read it here). This starts our quest to find every animal on the farm – horses, goats, cows, chickens, dogs, and bugs! We scurry around the farm finding each animal, greeting them, and learning a bit about them, too.

After that, we get to my very favorite part of the farm – the mud kitchen! The students all don aprons and get to work crafting cupcakes, breads, worms, and bowls out of the mud in front of us. Sometimes, it takes a little bit of convincing to get their hands plunged into the mud, but Jeff’s mud high fives usually get everyone laughing and muddy.

After this, it is time to wash hands and get ready for lunch.

 

 

Afternoon

After lunch in the pavilion, everyone is set free to play in our toy-filled riding ring. We soon collect the students so that we can begin our next quest – to go camping! Oh my, this is fun. We begin by collecting our gear (a sleeping mat for each child) and taking a short hike up to the fire ring. Here, Jeff leads us in a fire-building lesson in which the kids help crumple up paper for the kindling. We, of course, emphasize that building fires is only for grown-ups who know how to build fires – not kids or inexperienced adults :) 

We then read Duck Tents by Lynne Berry as we enjoy the warmth and dance of the fire. Soon enough, it is time to ‘sleep,’ so we all gather our sleeping mats and lay them out under and around the teepee. We leave the kids alone, for the most part, to rest or play quietly in the pine needles. It is such a delight to watch them act so serene and comfortable outdoors.

Soon, however, it is time to go back to school. We roll up our mats and hike back to the barn where the bus awaits. Until Day 2…

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

Hiking with the Senior Recreation Council

On the 19th, we were delighted to host the Frederick County Senior Recreation Council for a hike. For three miles, we explored ThorpeWood’s endless and beautiful trails. In addition to the great efforts by our lovely property manager, Jeff, the trails were also tended to by student volunteers from Heather Ridge School.

Our 32 hikers oohed and ahhed at the pine-needle bedded trails, the glistening pond, a dead sharp-shinned hawk, and our magical tee pee (left to us by the Maryland Theatre Ensemble). We discussed the weather predictions of wooly bears, the chestnut orchard, and so much more. This group was simply a delight. Every member was exceptionally grateful and kind. We hope to have them back again someday!

Posted in Events, Nature Preserve, Stoney Lick Farm

TJ High School’s EL Students

On the first of the month, we had Thomas Johnson High School’s English Learners Department out to the farm! They brought about forty students who are learning English to enjoy our property. Their day began with breakfast and some fun ice breakers at our farm pavilion – their laughter could be heard clear across the property!

Soon enough, they broke into three groups to enjoy the main activities of the day: hiking, animal time, and mindfulness. The hike was such fun as I led the students through our woods and around the pond for forty-five minutes. They loved the challenge of crossing the little stream and navigating muddy spots. At the stream, everyone whipped out their thermometers to practice taking temperature readings. Meanwhile, the folks over at the animals took time to meet and love our horses, goats, chickens, cows, and dogs. The final group was under the dawn redwood trees being led in some mindfulness activities by the TJ teachers. As the students cycled through each of these activities, they also completed their group challenge to find and photograph all the letters in the alphabet! We found an X on the barn doors, a Y in the trees, a U in a horseshoe, and so many more!

After our activities were over, the students regrouped at the pavilion for a lunch delivered by Pollo Campero. For the last bit of the day, the students mingled around the pavilion and took group photos. The teachers were delighted by everyone’s engagement and behavior. We can’t wait to have them back next month!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Head Start Staff at the Farm!

At the very end of last month, Head Start brought out every teacher, teacher’s assistant, and member of the family advocate team to the farm. We were delighted to have them for three hours in the beautiful fall sunshine! The purpose of this outing was to allow everyone to remember the farm (or meet it for the first time), learn expectations for their upcoming field trips, and, most importantly, enjoy a wonderful day in nature.

We began our day in the Pine Cathedral where we briefly went over our plans and expectations for our upcoming fall field trips. We didn’t have everyone sit for long though – we were soon in three groups meeting the animals and taking a hike around the property. Each group ended their walk at the pond.

Here, we handed out little nature journals and art supplies and send everyone to sit around the pond and document the world around them. Some folks chose to spend this time weaving pond grasses, recreating our weeping willow trees with water colors, or writing a few lines of prose. Others soaked in the sun and appreciated time with their friends. 

After we all had thoroughly enjoyed the ponds (and spotted some beavers!), we did a bit of forest bathing as we strolled through arboretum. We tapped into our five senses under the dawn redwood trees, looked for things in motion through the magnolias, and fell in love with the trees around us as we made our way to our final destination: the fire ring. 

Here, Jeff had prepared a roaring fire for us to sit around and make s’mores. The teachers chatted away on Jeff’s newly crafted log benches and enjoyed their sticky treat. We concluded our day here, but we know that the peace and wonder of the day carried with each of us as we left. In fact, I heard a report later that one person didn’t know how empty their self-care bucket had been until they felt it filling up while at the pond. 

We were oh-so delighted to have everyone out to the farm. Here’s to making a tradition of this grown-up field trip!

 

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

Painting Horses with Heartly House

Last week, we had the great pleasure of hosting a few dozen of the Heartly House staff members. This group took advantage of the rain to create a cozy day at the lodge. Instead of focusing on productivity and professional development, the day was all about self-care. Some folks chose to work on vision boards, while others did artwork or played board games. One of the fun activities they could participate in was finger painting our horses! 

About half the group made the trek through the rain from the lodge to the barn (a few even did so barefoot!). At the barn, they met Vinur and Geysir – their ‘canvasses’ for the day. We handed out brushes so that they could clean up their horse before starting on their art.

The ladies had such fun working together to make this project happen. Their art speaks for itself – take a look!

Thank you ladies for being so creative and kind. We hope to see you again soon!

Posted in Horses, Stoney Lick Farm

Head Start Family Day 2021

Saturday the 18th was our annual Head Start Family Day at the Farm! The day is held so that Head Start families can come to the farm before our fall field trips begin. That way, parents and guardians can see where the children will be coming, meet us farm folk, and get involved in some of our farm fun! We had about 125 people in attendance to partake in this special day!

The day began with a few small-group welcomes in the Pine Cathedral in which we introduced ourselves, our farm, and what our day was going to look like. We then headed out for a tour of the property. We followed our stunning, sun-dappled pine trails to the wide-open field (where we stopped to do cart wheels). From there, we journeyed around the pond and past our homestead house. After passing a black snack, we headed back to the pavilion where we introduced the second part of our day. 

The families were instructed that this was farm free time – with plenty of farm activity centers to choose from. They had the option to:

Visit animals in the barn

Read farm stories at the picnic tables

Roll down the hill

Play on the tractors

Get a wagon ride

Play in the mud kitchen!

 

 

 

 

At the end of the day, the families collected snacks from Head Start staff and a little package from us farm folk. Our farm package included a nature journal, a Park Rx prescription, and a nature-themed recommended reading list of books available through Frederick County Public Library. 

The day was a great success and we can’t wait to see all of these kids again for their field trips!

Posted in Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm