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.
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!
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
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!
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!
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!
We continue to send ‘farm mail’ to our Head Start students! These little bits of love from the farm are delivered to the county’s Head Start classrooms about once a week. We also send ‘farm mail’ to the children in virtual classes once a month with the regular deliveries of classroom materials that Head Start arranges. Take a look at the fun we sent this month:
Woodland Creature Bookmark
Tree Disc Ring Counting
Observing Out Your Window
This month’s story time featured a book called I’m Done! by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan. In this book, a little beaver attempts to make his first dam, but he isn’t working too hard to make it just right. After much advice from Mama and Papa beaver, Little Beaver eventually ‘nibble nibble snaps’ and ‘scoop scoop pats’ his way to really damming the stream and making his own little pond.
After reading this story under the cover of the pavilion, we headed out into the rain to look for evidence of Little Beaver here at the farm. After a minute’s walk, we came across our first evidence: a low stump, whittled into a spear by beaver teeth! We followed the trail of missing branches and stumps until we arrived at the pond. Here, we discovered the beavers’ lodge, dam, and pathways between the ponds. The children were so delighted to find more and more evidence that Little Beaver lives here at the farm.
The whole adventure was streamed through Facebook live for those who couldn’t make it to the live event. You can find the link to that video here. Enjoy! We hope to see you in person next time!
Inspired by the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Education Trunk, we have created a new kind of farm mail: Farm Trunks! Farm Trunks are old metal toolboxes filled with different nature-themed classroom fun. For example, our first farm trunk, which was released for a trial run this week, is themed ‘Pond Life.’ We are also in the process of creating quite a few more in the following themes: birds, horses, chickens, nature’s music, workshop tools, sticks & stones, and bugs.
Each trunk is filled with its own set of fun, but they follow the same general guidelines when it comes to their contents. First and foremost, each trunk has an introductory letter. In the letter, the theme is introduced and a specific set of challenges (and rewards!) is put forth to encourage more engagement and communication back to the farm.
For the teacher’s convenience, we have included a content list and some coloring pages for photocopying.
The trunks also have one or more age-appropriate books on that theme for the teacher to read aloud and the students to flip through.
Finally, the trunks feature some real-life artifacts and hands-on activities for the students to get involved with the theme.
We are so excited to create these trunks and circulate them between the Head Start classrooms. Expect further updates here on the blog when we get the trunks back from field testing and can unveil the final product! If you have ideas for more trunks for us to create, reach out to [email protected] We always appreciate some outside insight!
Since the beginning of the school year, we farm folk have committed to creating and dropping off ‘farm mail’ at all of the county’s Head Start classes each week (except when the snow stops us!). The past two months have been no exception as we have been delivering a wide variety of farm fun – from suet cakes to facilitate bird-watching from the classroom windows to coloring pages to a new interactive story. Each piece of farm mail is always accompanied by a letter to the kids. Take a look at our most recent farm mail below!
What’s Wild Coloring Page
Farm Buildings Info Sheet
Egg Carton Decoration
Look Closely Book
Bird Suet Cakes