This month for our Third Thursday Storytime, we read ‘Please Take Me for a Walk’ by Susan Gal. It is a delightful story of a little dog who just wants to go for a walk. The doggie asks again and again ‘please take me for a walk” followed by all the lovely things that he’d like to do around town.
After the read aloud, we brainstormed what a dog would like to do on a farm like ours, rather than in the story’s big town. We followed up this discussion by taking a walk around the farm with June, Ruby, Chester, and Ziggy (just a few of our dogs!). We brought them to visit with the cows, horses, and goats. They got to run in the woods, jump over logs, and eat fresh horse hoof trimmings from the farrier. Throughout the walk, we would verbally add a page to the story:
“Please take me for a walk…I want to play with the goats!”
“Please take me for a walk…there are so many smells to sniff in the woods.”
“Please take me for a walk…I love to lick your face as you roll down the grassy hill!”
“Please take me for a walk…I’m so hungry for YUMMY HORSE TOENAILS!”
We finished up the hour by encouraging the kids to find the book in their local library and try to write a whole new chapter based on our adventure.
Our latest book has no words at all. Nope, not even a title. Instead, it is a comic strip that goes along with one of our recent videos ‘Let’s Ride a Horse.’ As our young preschoolers are a little ways away from reading on their own, we wanted to create a book that they could ‘read’ by themselves. It still tells a story, conveys emotions, and teaches them a bit about riding horses.
When we delivered these books as part of farm mail this week, we challenged the students to narrate the story on their own using the clues in the drawings. Miss Kim, one of the Head Start teachers, wrote to us to say “Thank you for today’s farm mail. I am super excited to share it with the kiddos. I LOVE the wordless picture book. Fits right in with one of our objectives that I am planning to work on soon. : )”
Check out the book below!
We have been having so much fun making and delivering farm mail to all of our Head Start friends! Each week, we drive around Frederick and Emmitsburg to make our rounds of all the classrooms – two classes at Frederick Community College, one at Staley Park, two at the Bernard Brown Center, one at Lucas Village, and one at the Emmitsburg Senior Center. In recent weeks, we have distributed a great many items of farm fun. Here are just a few of the things we have sent via Farm Mail:
A pair of stilts
We made these in our workshop and made a video of that process to send to all the kids! These toys are great for kids to develop their gross motor skills – and have a lot of fun doing so!
This little horse has long been a familiar face around the Head Start classrooms, and is once again getting loved and played with regularly in the classroom.
Pool Noodle Horses
Using just a few ribbons, googly eyes, and a pool noodle, we made fantastic little hobby horses. Each classroom now has one to play with!
Farm-themed coloring pages are always a hit – the kids often give us the finished products back as a little gift the next week.
We heard that Flat Fandi might be getting a bit lonely, so a Flat Matilda joined him!
One of the classes sent us a big poster with everyone’s handprint on it early in the school year, so we returned the favor by making a page of animal autographs!
Today is the second and final day of our Open House! We are so enjoying having small numbers of folks out to our lodge to enjoy our magnificent Christmas tree, roaring fire, cider, and ThorpeWood cookies. Despite being quite busy at the North Pole, Santa has made his way to our mountain to see all of our guests. Email Julie Castleman at [email protected]
to sign up.
We also have our 2021 ThorpeWood calendars that we are so excited to share! This year, we used photo submissions from Missy Zook Grimes, Wendy McLean, Tim Voigt, Kai Hagen, Joy Smith and me to make this extraordinary calendar. So many calendars have already shipped out to their new homes. Carrol County Public Schools took 20 for their disadvantaged girls enrolled in summer camp and each of the Head Start classrooms received one in their farm mail this week. Take a look at the stunning photos below:
As our preschoolers are still not able to come visit the farm at this time, we are making more distance learning videos to share with them. The children in both the physical and virtual classrooms have been enjoying their small glimpses into life at the farm. These videos offer a wide range of content for our preschoolers, including read alouds and videos from all aspects of farm life. Take a look at our latest videos below! Also, you can visit our ThorpeWood youtube channel for all of our videos!
Meet the Farm
This is the first video we made this school year to introduce new students to our farm (and baby Josie!). It is a read aloud of a new story we farm folk wrote recently. All of the classrooms got a copy of this book in their farm mail!
The Farm Alphabet
This is a read aloud of one of our farm stories, read atop our tractor! Each letter of the alphabet is paired with something from life at the farm. Each student, both in the physical and virtual classrooms, got a miniature version of this book in their farm mail!
Making Stilts in the Workshop
This video shows me building a pair of stilts in the workshop. The children get to see many different tools in use. Each class got a pair of these stilts in their farm mail that week!
Let’s Get Hay
This video shows a fun day at the farm where we farm folk go get 100 bales of hay from a local farm. The kids get to watch us load and unload the hay – and finally deliver it to the animals!
As the students were studying leaves in their classrooms, this video shows leaves at the farm and all the fun you can have with them. From making confetti, to jumping in leaf piles, to making a little leaf village, there is all kinds of fall fun in this video.
We are so delighted to announce the return of Third Thursdays at ThorpeWood, a nature-themed storytime event. In years past, this event was held in our ‘tree room’ in front of our beautiful tree mural. Stories were read by different local librarians. We hope to return to this perfect storytime area in the future, but in the time of COVID, we are opting to hold our storytime outdoors. Children and their families get to sit on haybales near our barn for the storytime, then head out on an adventure.
For our first storytime event this November, we read ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. Following the reading, we colored and constructed paper binoculars which the children wore around their neck for the big bear hunt that followed. During this, we tromped through the woods, keeping our eyes peeled for a bear sighting. Although no live bears made an appearance, we were delighted to find painted wood cut out bears at the pond. These fun cut outs were loaned to us by our wonderful neighbor Barb Palatucci.
We hope to see more families at our next event! Please email [email protected] to sign up.
We were so thrilled this month to have our friends from Camp Journey out to our farm. Over the course of the month, four crews of their kids took a little field trip to enjoy our property. Two groups came to feed our animals, go on a night hike and have dinner here. After trekking through the woods armed with flashlights, the hikes ended with two great moments. First, we took 5 minutes to lay down in our big field in silence, just staring up at the stars and taking in the sounds of the night. Afterward, we continued our silence as we made our way to the pond to spy on our beavers. The beavers, accommodating as always, swam to the edge of the pond and allowed the kids to watch them from mere feet away.
Another group of campers came later in the month to spend time with our animals. In addition to helping our barn manager Joy feed everyone in the evening, the girls got to work grooming the horses. This volunteerism was greatly appreciated by us farm folk and the animals, of course!
The final group of campers came to the lodge on a Saturday to bake cookies! Marie from Tastefully Ever After graciously taught the girls from Camp Journey all about baking and decorating some truly delicious cookies!
We can’t wait to see our Camp Journey friends again soon!
After having canceled and postponed so many EAL sessions and other farm programming, we were delighted to host a few groups for Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) this fall. In October, we saw the directors and supervisors of Potomac Case Management during their two-day retreat at our lodge. Through their work with our very differently-tempered horses, the participants were reminded how to recalibrate their management methods to each case and employee. They also delved into their communication and leadership styles as we experimented with working with the horses ‘at liberty’ and on a lead. The two-hour session was wonderfully fruitful and we received some lovely feedback afterward.
In November, we had Frederick Memorial Hospital’s forensic nurses for EAL. Even though it was a cold and rainy day, the lovely ladies that came out were ready to get down to business! They had a great time challenging themselves to lead our horses without being too forceful. Being forensic nurses, they knew how to have a gentle touch while still taking charge and getting their mission accomplished. After EAL, they returned to the lodge to warm up around the fire and continue their staff retreat. We so enjoyed have both groups out for EAL – we so missed getting to share this experience with our community!
With sixty of our Head Start friends in virtual classrooms this year, we decided to join in on their weekly sessions over Google Meets. At the start of their class, we introduced ourselves and took a tour around the farm – showing them our barn, horses, goats, dogs and more! Towards the end of the call, we let them know that the farm would be sending them an envelope stuffed full of fun farm activities. We honored that promise as Head Start handed out learning materials to each family. In each kid’s package, there was an envelope from the farm containing one of our miniature Farm Alphabet books, a little Flat Fandi, a letter, and some worksheets. Each month going forward, we will be sending our farm fun to all our virtual students!
Take a look at some of the materials we sent below: