Teacher Spotlights!

Since we are unable to be face-to-face with our Head Start preschoolers during this time, we have been relying heavily on their teachers to be our proxies. Each and every teacher has made room in their weekly schedule to share our farm mail and farm trunks with the kids. We are so grateful for the time and energy these teachers give our distance learning initiatives.

A few teachers have gone above and beyond by offering us feedback and regularly sharing photos and videos of the kids interacting with our farm mail and farm trunks. Without these dedicated educators, we would have no clue how our farm trunks are being received by the classes. We are so thankful for each of these amazing teachers! To offer a small thank you to these ladies, we have collected some kind words from their coworkers and students. Read each teacher’s spotlight below :)

Amalia Mera-Gallo

“I would have to say that Mrs. Amalia is an excellent teacher! She really cares about the children and families she has. She communicates with her families and works with them to make sure the children in her class are learning to the best of their abilities. She makes sure the children are engaged in learning and enjoy being in school.” – Corrie, teacher

“Loving bilingual teacher, dedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment, gets along with everyone” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

Susan Stevens

One of our newest staff, builds great relationships with children and families, easy to get along with, very positive” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

I would just like to say working with Susan has truly been a blessing. I have showed her everything I know and she has taught me some things as well. She really has a big heart and you can tell through her work and the love she has for these kids. I am truly glad to be a part of her team. She’s truly amazing.” -Miss Kristen, classroom aide

From her students:

“She takes care of us”

“She doesn’t make us go outside by ourselves”

“She lets us play outside”

“Because we switch names”

“She’s the best teacher”

“She gives us special treats”

“Because her hair looks good”

“She’s an awesome teacher”

“She rocks”

“She lets us paint”

Joy McFarlane

Easily implements routines and schedules to include all children’s needs, very knowledgeable about Head Start, good mentor and support to other staff” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

It’s a pleasure working side by side with Ms. Joy. Her years of experience make her the right person to go to when you need support and ideas; She is always happy to help. Her students and families love her, she makes such a big difference in her students’ lives. She has many ways to teach, she creates an environment rich of knowledge and experiences for the children. Her class is always full of laughter and happiness and I’m glad to be part of it.”  -Scherri, teacher

Kim Petty

“Very resourceful, warm and caring, great relationship builder, enjoys taking learning outdoors” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

Miss Kim is a wonderful teacher!  She loves the students and is always providing the best of care for each one of them.  Miss Kim makes learning fun through music and songs and a lot of thoughtful activities.  She knows all of the families and works with them to provide the best care for them and the students.”  -Mary, classroom aide

She cares about her students a lot and has great relationships with their parents.” -Cassie, Teacher

From her students:

I love her!” – Shoshana

I like her because she’s nice.” -Max

It’s because she always be nice to all of us.” -Elise

I love her!” -Mia

Cassie Degener

Very positive, supportive, warm caring environment” -Nina, family engagement coordinator

From her students:

She’s nice”

“Her nice”

“She lets me swing”

“She is happy. I love Ms. Cassie”

“She’s Awesome”

“Being the best runner”

“She does everything I told her to do”

“Because she can sit next to me”

“She’s nice”

“She has friends”

“She makes surprises for us”

Posted in Head Start

More Distance Learning Videos

As most of our usual groups still aren’t able to come to the farm due to Covid, we continue to make distance learning videos to bring the farm to their classrooms. Previously, these videos were exclusively made with our Head Start preschoolers in mind, but these days we have expanded to making videos for older students. The environmental science departments at various FCPS schools, for example, have made special requests for videos about various aspects of our property. Take a look at some of our latest videos!

ThorpeWood’s Arboretum

Come visit the Valhalla Arboretum at ThorpeWood! This forty-acre arboretum has so many amazing trees – and one little arboretum gnome. Can you spot her?

ThorpeWood’s Lodge

The ThorpeWood lodge has a green design with many features of note. Come along as I show you a handful of these environmentally friendly design choices.

Taking Care of Animals

Our Head Start preschoolers were on their ‘pets’ unit, so I head around the farm, showing the kids what it takes to take care of our pets, the farm animals!

Farm Tour

For those who haven’t been to the farm (or you just want to visit again!), here’s a really cool choose-your-own-adventure farm tour! Check it out!Snow Day!

It’s a winter wonderland! Come see what the farm looks like under 11″ of snow…and see what the animals think of this winter weather!



Posted in Activities for You, Head Start, Stoney Lick Farm

Farm Trunks Update

Our farm trunks have been circulating in the Frederick County Head Start classrooms for seven weeks now, and the consensus is clear: everyone LOVES the farm trunks! Each week, we are inundated with photos and feedback from the teachers. We love to hear which trunks are early favorites (and which trunks aren’t quite so great – looking at you, bird trunk!). Of course, direct quotes from the teachers and photos of the kids are the best way of showing just how beloved our trunks are. So, here you go!

Teacher Quotes

The kids are loving the trunks. There is something magical about them. -Miss Kim

The children really love the fishing game in the pond trunk! I think this one, the bug trunk, and the tent trunk have been their favorites. Thank you! -Miss Susan

“What a wonderful and oh so creative idea! Love you all for thinking outside the box and bringing nature into our classrooms.” -Miss Nina

My kids have loved the farm trunk. We went on a rock hunt and collected rocks. We sorted our rocks from small to big, smooth to rough and colors. They also built something…I don’t know what it was but it looked cool. Thanks for this awesome project.” -Miss Cassie

“I can’t wait to get my next trunk! Ladies, my class previewed the pond trunk a while back and the kids loved it. I introduced the materials and then we put it in the science center.  I’m excited to see what is in the other trunks.” -Miss Kim

The kids loved the cooking supplies. They had a blast collecting dirt, sand, and dandelions to make soup, stew, and other edibles. -Miss Kim

“Farm Trunks are very cool and the children love them :) Thanks for bringing them to us!!” -Miss Susan

Trunk Photos


Posted in Farm Mail, Head Start

Storytime: Charlotte and the Rock

This month, for our Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood Storytime, we read the terrific Charlotte and the Rock, by Stephen Martin. This is a simply adorable story of a little girl and her pet rock. The love and friendship between these two characters is evident on every page. We hope our young listeners took to heart how you can care for the inanimate aspects of nature. 

After the story, we went on a rock hunt to find our own pet rocks. There was much bustle about the farm as the children ran down our pine trails, finding the perfect rock to be their friend. After everyone had a rock in hand, we returned to the pavilion to decorate our rocks. Everyone made beautiful pet rocks, gave them names, and talked about where their pet rock would live. 

Finally, while the pet rocks dried in the warm spring air, everyone had a blast playing with the haybales that had been our storytime seating. All the kids rearranged the hay into new patterns, climbed up and down the bales, and generally had some good old farm fun. Until next time!

Posted in Third Thursday Storytime

BRS Library Children’s Program

This past weekend, ThorpeWood supported the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library during their inaugural plant sale. As parents shopped for and admired the many plants donated to the sale, children headed across the street to a private little spot beneath the trees in the memorial garden.

Here, we were running a children’s nature program learning about potting, propagating, and caring for mint plants. We had a large bucket of compost from the farm’s manure pile as part of this educational activity. What fun we had telling the kids that the soil they had their hands in came from our horse manure! As always, our goal was primarily to get everyone’s hands dirty – we consider it so important for kids to experience the natural world in a hands-on way! 

We also took advantage of the library setting by reading the kids some of our favorite plant-themed books – and encouraging them to check them out of the library after the program’s end. Rooting For You by Susan Hood was the clear favorite. See the rest of our plant-themed reading list below. Despite the rain (and hail!), the kids all were delighted to take home their new mint plant at the end of the program. 

Plant-Themed Reading List 

If you Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Rooting for You by Susan Hood

Posted in Events

Earth Day

This year for Earth Day, the ThorpeWood staff headed out to pick up litter! As part of the Adopt-a-Road program, ThorpeWood is responsible for the clean-up of Old Catoctin Road. So, with garbage bags, the farm trunk, and ‘Tank’ the Kabota, we got to work.

Sam, Julie, and Joy began at Route 15, working their way inward toward the mountain, while Jeff and I began at the crossroads of Mink Farm Road and Old Catoctin Road, working outward toward 15. Our teams were in a deep rivalry to see who collected the most trash.

The Results

Sam, Julie, and Joy won the Electronics Division for biggest tv (though Jeff and I found more TVs overall)

Jeff and I won the Tire Division. We rolled, dragged, and threw eleven tires out of the ravine from the mile stretch of road we covered! Sam, Julie, and Joy added another four to that – resulting in a total count of 15 tires. 

We had fun with our Earth Day adventure and are planning another litter clean-up day soon. Please reach out to [email protected] if you’d like to join us next time!

Posted in Activities for You, Volunteering

Farm Trunk Debut

ThorpeWood has debuted our full line of Farm Trunks, which are now circulating between all of the Frederick County Head Start classes. Inspired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Education Trunks, our trunks cover many farm and nature themes, including Horses, Chickens, Birds, Sticks & Stones, Pond Life, Camping, Bugs, Nature’s Music, and Workshop Tools. Inside each trunk, there are hands-on materials for the children to explore and play with, books for the teachers to read aloud, and a few beyond-the-trunk initiatives. 

These initiatives take the students beyond their classroom walls, into other learning environments. First, on the virtual front, teachers are encouraged to show students the Trunk Playlist – a compilation of ThorpeWood youtube videos that match the trunk’s theme. Second, to get the kids learning outdoors, each trunk has a ‘Get Outside!’ challenge. Depending on the trunk, this challenge might be to go on a rock hunt, create musical instruments from the nature around them, or go bird watching. To encourage participation, each challenge has a corresponding reward – like tree disc necklaces, their choice of virtual guest speaker from the farm, exclusive farm videos, and new ‘flat animals’ for their classroom.

Take a look at our nine Farm Trunks below!




Nature’s Music  Sticks and Stones

Pond Life




Posted in Farm Mail, Head Start

Storytime: “999 Tadpoles”

This month for our Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood, we read 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura. We read this book as a StoryPath. For those who are not familiar with this format, a StoryPath means that the pages of a book are placed on yard signs, erected along a trail, and read as an active storytime. This was not our own creative endeavor, however. It was a loan from the very generous Thurmont Regional Library. We are so grateful that they created these signs and allowed us to use them for our storytime!

The book is about a family of tadpoles, who grow up into frogs and need to find a new home. They travel through dangerous territory until they find their new pond in the most unlikely way! 

For the event itself, we followed the signs around the pond, stopping to read each page and admire the adorable illustrations. The last page was posted next to a large puddle in which we could see frog eggs. After some more exploring, we found tadpoles as well. There were just a few to be found, but we know our ponds will be quite full of tadpole life soon!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm, Third Thursday Storytime


This Wednesday, the lovely folks of the English Language department at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School came out to ThorpeWood for a retreat. This group of twelve began their day by having breakfast in the pavilion and playing some ice breaker games. Their giggles could be heard across the farm! They followed this up by enjoying a tour of the farm – through the arboretum, around the pond, stopping into the homestead barn, visiting with animals, and finally arriving at our main barn. Here, they began our equine-assisted learning program. 

These teachers, who spend every day supporting and connecting with English learners, were naturals at EAL. They led gently, coaxing the horse along; it was amazing to see how our horses responded to the energy they brought to the program. Our horse, Geysir, for example, is extremely sensitive and usually is seen running out and away from EAL participants. This time, however, he walked calmly and even followed the lead of the youngest staff member there – a woman who just graduated high school two years ago and joined the EL department with her old teachers. 

Towards the end of EAL, we did a group game in which one person, blindfolded, leads a horse through our obstacle course with their peer verbally directing them. This was a wonderful experiment in trust – for people and animal alike!

Next, the EL department spent time at the lodge, where they ate lunch and discussed how to best use ThorpeWood for their students. The finished the day by having s’mores around our ‘cowboy cauldron.’ We were so delighted to have them at the farm with us. We hope to see them again soon – with their students!


Posted in EAL, Meetings, Stoney Lick Farm

Kids’ Day at the Farm

This Monday, we had an egg hunt at the farm! Now, this wasn’t your average candy-fueled Easter egg hunt, but rather a farm-centered one. We started the event with our fantastic story Ready for an Egg Hunt, which recounts in rhyme all the silly places our chickens lay eggs. You can read the full story here.

Afterward, we grabbed our trusty metal pails to go hunting for white plastic chicken eggs. Instead of being filled with jelly beans, however, these eggs had either horse, cow, chicken, or goat feed inside.


When all the eggs were found (except the one that is still missing…), we regrouped at the teepee fire ring to break open the eggs and sort the feed into buckets.

After all the eggs were emptied into the appropriate feed tubs, we began the next phase of the event: feeding the animals! From the cows to the chickens to the horses to the goats, we made sure everyone got a little snack and plenty of love, too. The kids were so delighted to engage with our animals…and it was clear that the animals sure appreciated having kids back on the farm, too!

Posted in Stoney Lick Farm