After a long August and September away from our Head Start ‘friends,’ October brought our three, four, and five year old visitors back once again. Amongst the many familiar faces from last year were the bunches of new students, who could be easily identified by their wide-eyed stares as they dismounted the bus each Monday. Coming for four consecutive days, the children’s week progressed as follows:
Yay!! The first day of farm visits! First up on our list of things to do: get to know ALL of the animals on the farm. Our favorite way of doing this is through our story What’s that Sound? which follows our horse, Bylgia, as she comes across each kind of animal on the farm and asks for their help in finding the source of a mysterious sound. (Spoiler alert: it’s just the chickens!!) After reading this story in the barn, we embark in small groups to reenact the story, hunting down all of its characters until we find our lovely chickens.
After Monday’s meet and greet with all of our furry creatures, we spend our second day discovering the landscape of our farm. That’s right, it’s exploring day (my favorite!). Armed with our little metal collection pails, we skip away from the barn and to the woods, the fields, and the pond. Aside from simply delving into our natural world, we also have a mission: to find a rock to paint. We may unearth it from beneath a bed of pine needles, kick it loose from the frozen ground, or extract it (jenga-style) from the stone wall. Whatever the method, we tote our rocks back to the warmth of the barn and get to painting. After a day of drying, these customized treasures then make their way to their new homes.
Now well into our week with the kids, we decide to impress upon them one of our most valued lessons, namely, respecting our bugs. Using Hannah and Phillip Hoose’s story Hey Little Ant, the willing among us can see an ant’s perspective as a little boy debates squishing him. Though a few children still think the ant should die and others feel that the kid should be smooshed instead, the majority feel empathy for our little bug friend and think he should get to live. From here, we continue our bug-kindness campaign as we build bug houses out of sticks, leaves, pinecones, etc. Once the homes are built, we flesh out the town with chalk drawings on our barn floor. After cleaning up our towns, we run to the upper barn for some end-of-day rompings in the hay playground.
Our last day together is spent with the chickens. Our new story Ready for an Egg Hunt? (see recent blog for full story) introduces the day’s activity with its clever rhymes. In small groups, we track down hidden plastic eggs, which are filled with cracked corn, dried meal worms, and dried crickets. These, we press upon our ‘friends,’ are for chickens not children!! With everybody gathered, offerings in hand, we let the chickens out to receive their bounty. After this display of rapid-fire pecking and delighted chortles, we take a quiet moment to watch our chickens contentedly scratch in the leaves and run about. Our day thus wrapped up, we send the children home with promises of a winter classroom visit on the calendar! We look forward too it as much (if not more) than them!