Thursday, June 13, 2013

Barnyard Tales-Strawberries, Seashells, Bird Nest and more 6-12-13

We gardeners--and storytellers working with young children--are accustomed to things going differently than planned. Seeds don't sprout; voles eat your beets; some summers it's September before you get a tomato. You think the kids will love a story as much as you do. They don't. I usually go with the flow, remembering I'm not in control. But I confess to being caught off balance when my back surgery for early June got bumped to the end of June. Summer plans totally turned upside down. So here I am, back at Barnyard Tales for the month of June, now planning to be recuperating in July. 


A drizzly morning equaled a smaller crowd. Just 10 children, one of whom hardly counts because he's a new baby. A set of twins joined us later in the garden, but came too late for stories. So fun to see one of last summer's boys who has been in preschool this past year. He's grown up so much! Sits "crisscross, applesauce" without even being asked this summer.   


After our opening song, we revisited Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nickki McClure. We'd read it early in the season when it definitely was NOT summer yet. But the signs were all there today: we saw buzzing bees, tiny apples and pears on the trees, seeds--and weeds--sprouting in the warm soil. And strawberries, ripe and juicy, ready to pick and eat on the spot. Which they did. Yum!!  Today's chill couldn't fool us. We had proof summer is here. 


Next was a book I just discovered, My Garden by Kevin Henkes. What a delightful story. A little girl tells us her idea of the perfect garden. No weeds, just flowers that bloom all the time, never die, and change colors. Her rabbits wouldn't eat the lettuce because they'd be made of chocolate and she'd eat them! She'd plant jelly beans and grow a jelly bean bush. Her tomatoes would be as big as beach balls. And she'd plant sea shells and grow a crop. Which is what she is doing at story's end when her mother questions what she is up to. I rarely throw anything away, much to my family's dismay, but it worked in my favor this morning. Of course, I had a bag of sea shells in the cupboard. I pulled them out and asked Dawn to "plant" them in the digging corner while we read stories. Imagine the children's surprise when they dug up sea shells along with the colored glass treasures later in the morning!! "Hmmmm. Do you suppose they got planted here by that little girl?" I asked with a smile. They weren't sure, but they were excited. 


As I planned the sea shell surprise, I suddenly recalled the old Mother Goose rhyme about Mistress Mary, quite contrary. In her garden she grew "silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row." Did I have cockle shells in my collection? A Google search told me I did. Several. Henrietta recited the poem and the children examined the cockle shells with fascination. I kept asking if they thought those could grow in a garden. Most of the older ones knew that a sea creature once made that shell its home and they doubted they'd grow in a garden.  


Finally I shared the tender story of  Grandpa Green, the tale of a gardener whose memories are fading in old age, but whose fanciful pruning of the shrubs in his garden into the shapes of significant events in his life over the years help him to remember them. Written by Lane Smith, Grandpa Green's story is told through the eyes of his loving great-grandson and brought to life by the delightful boxwood sculptures illustrating the tale. 


While we were too restless to read another book, we did take time to look at one illustration in a book about how different birds build their nests. It pictured a killdeer and her nest with four speckled eggs laying right there in a slight depression in the ground. The day before I had spotted a killdeer nest with four speckled eggs, just like the book's illustration, in one of the Community Garden plots. I noted its location so we could check it out. After all those fantastical gardens I'd just introduced them to, I think I had lost some of my credibility with the children. 


"How do I know that is true?" asked a 5-year-old skeptic. Good question. A bird laying her eggs right on the ground did sound a bit fishy. Maybe this was just more of that imaginary stuff like jelly bean bushes and shrubs in the shape of elephants. I assured him this one was true and we'd go find it so he could see it with his own eyes. We found the nest, but we never got to see the eggs. Instead of the typical killdeer trick to distract us away from her nest by running away from it, making quite a racket, and pretending to have a broken wing, this mama bird stayed right on that nest, so still that my skeptic finally asked, "Is she alive?" There she sat, still as any of the clods of dirt that surrounded her, blending right in and never leaving her eggs. She did look like a stuffed animal. Finally, though, she shifted her position slightly, just enough to let the little boy know she was a real, live bird.  


In the Children's Garden, we tasted mint leaves and sucked the sweetness out of honeysuckle blossoms. Lots of dirt was consumed along with the strawberries. And a little girl pretended to feed a clover blossom to a visiting grandmother's very realistic Jack Rabbit puppet that she'd brought along to show us this morning. All in all, it was a sweet morning!! 



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Barnyard Tales May 15, 2013 Stories for All!

Though it was a drizzly, chilly day outside, there was plenty of warmth and sunshine inside the Luscher Farm's classroom where we gathered for stories and songs. We did a lot of singing as folks arrived, changing the words to suit us: "♫ If you're happy on the farm,   ♪clap your hands, ♫ if you like to feed the chickens, ♪ shout, 'Hurray!!'....." and "♪Clap your hands, ♪touch your toes, ♫ turn around and put your finger on your nose....." We are getting to be quite the song and dance act!! And lots of happy faces peaking out from those hooded sweatshirts. Emy's smile lit up the room as she handed me a picture of an elephant she had colored "for Miss Lynne" and a book she and her dad had read the night before. It was a very funny book. Would I read it today? Of course!!  Who wouldn't enjoy hearing about The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash, the silly story of a field trip to a farm that a little boy relates to his mother. Possibly he's exaggerating??? The author is Trinka Hakes Noble. 

Though I think the children and parents enjoyed story time the week before, Henrietta and I were a bit wrung out by morning's end. Holding the attention of 18 children, mostly very young with plenty of nearly-two-year-olds, was a huge challenge. Some were "helping" me play the autoharp. We were tap dancing as fast as we could!! By necessity, we cut the story portion of the morning short, did more singing and movement, but even then we needed to go outside to explore and play much earlier than usual. They were so restless!! I can't even recall what books we read. Did we actually read a book? Maybe we just looked at some pictures. I couldn't even think what to write about the day.

All week I pondered how we might meet the diverse needs of these families. Having a place to bring very young children to introduce them to a group experience and to explore the wonders of nature is important. So is connecting with other families. But many of the older children are eager to delve more deeply into the subject of gardening, farming and all its related topics. And they enjoy more complex stories. I hated to think they might lose interest and stop coming. No solution seemed quite right. But as I drove out to the farm for this week's story time, a light bulb went on. What if we spent the first 15 minutes of story time with more singing and some very simple stories and then let those younger children who were getting restless leave with their moms to check out the chickens and head over to the Children's Garden to get an early start on the digging? Then the older children could stay on to enjoy some longer stories with more complicated plots or subjects. I gave the moms and nannies a heads up about the plan and at quarter after the hour about half left to go to the garden. The rest settled in to listen attentively to more stories. It felt like a win-win solution to me. Hopefully the participating families agreed.  

For the younger crowd we read This Is the Farmer by Nancy Tafuri. Few words, simple plot, large, bold illustrations. We had to look closely to find the flea that lands on the cat. But it was there!! Everyone enjoyed The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson. Who doesn't love cookies? Can you imagine why the cow loves cookies? Hint: milk and cookies taste mighty good together. We barely made it through The Animals of Farmer Jones by Richard Scarry before attention spans were spent. Though the book is very age appropriate for the younger crowd, they'd just had enough. When I checked it out, I remembered this story. It was read to me as a child. I read it to my own children. Sure enough, a Golden Book, it was published in 1942, and has obviously stood the test of time. All the animals are hungry, but where is Farmer Jones? Finally we learn he is out in the field on his tractor, a great segue to the younger crowds departure and some play time on the Children's Garden tractor. 

The older ones settled in to quietly enjoy the story of Jimmy's boa constrictor and then we read Stephen and the Beetle by Jorge Lujan. I've been dying to share this ever since I first saw it, but it's not for the younger crowd. Dramatically illustrated by Chiara Carrer, one of Italy's best-known children's book illustrators, this is a simple, but surprising story. One day Stephen spots a beetle in the garden. He takes off his shoe and is just about to squash it, but then he has another thought......  It's a thought-provoking story and the children were quietly reflective. I told them it reminded me of some of them, their fascination with studying the beetles, worms and slugs we find under the straw bale.  

Not much digging went on this week; kind of muddy. But we fed the chickens oatmeal and the worms vegetable trimmings and shredded newspaper. And some boys noticed some large, dead worms in one plot, apparent victims of a Boy Scout digging project there last weekend. We recalled learning a few weeks ago that a worm's life is dangerous. 

The garden is looking so gorgeous. Children's Garden Co-ordinator Dawn has really been working hard and harnessing the power of lots of volunteers. The tunnel is planted with pea vines which will soon cover it; already some children were crawling through. The fairy house has been wired to a post so it won't fall down and freshly replanted, inviting imaginative play. Lots of herbs to smell and taste, fuzzy leaves to touch, bees to watch, flowers to delight the senses, a promise of veggies to come. And adorable children running about enjoying all its wonders! I feel so lucky to be able to spend my Wednesday mornings in the Children's Garden! I think the moms and kids do, too.

That being said, I will be away for awhile. First a vacation and then back surgery in early June. Dawn will take over the storytelling and Children's Garden exploration in my absence. I know I'll miss your delightful children while I'm gone. Hopefully I will be back telling stories, singing songs and enjoying the garden with you all by the end of June or early July. All rested, repaired and ready to roll once again!!   

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Barnyard Bulletin - Earthworms Live Dangerously! April 24, 2013

When I chose the subject of earthworms for this week's Barnyard Tales, I didn't anticipate that the real wigglers would be the ones on the carpet in front of me! A big crowd--18 children, several who were only two-years-old--made for lots of restlessness. That age group has short attention spans. It was a morning for more movement and singing, less stories and talking. 

We began our day with All In A Day by Cynthia Rylant with Nikki McClure's gorgeous cut-paper illustrations. The little boy in the story enjoys many of the same activities we engage in at Luscher Farm following story time: feeding the chickens, making wishes with dandelions, exploring the wonders of the earth, lying in the grass looking up into the sky, digging in the dirt and, sometimes,  even dodging raindrops. But not today. We welcomed our gorgeous, sunny, special spring day by singing "Morning has come, night is away, rise with the sun, and welcome the day."  

With the day properly greeted, we began learning more about worms from Yucky Worms, by Vivian French, a  book in our own Children's Garden collection. Grandma insists that worms are not yucky, but really our friends. We got well-acquainted with their anatomy, with their eating--and pooping--habits, and how they help plants grow by loosening the soil so roots can go way down. We learned how worms move by using their muscles. We have muscles, too, so we used them to wiggle about on the carpet like worms to the song "The Thousand Legged Worm." Actually, those "thousand-legged worms" are really centipedes. One boy wanted to be sure we looked for one in the garden. I promised.

All that worm talk woke Henrietta up and she asked to tell the kids the story of her foolish friend and the Golden Worm. I said, "O.K., but only if you change the ending." Henrietta agreed that her friend would rather gobble up the Golden Worm at the end. After all, we'd just learned that a worm's life is dangerous. Birds like to eat them. And worms are one of Henrietta's favorite snack foods!! Now doesn't that sound yucky? !!

I had more stories in mind, but the kids were finished. As one little girl said, "Kids need to play." 

The chickens loved the oatmeal, chard leaves and broccoli flowers we dropped off on our way to the Children's Garden. But we didn't linger. We had other friends to feed. The worms in the Children's Garden worm bin. We fed them banana peels, an apple core, tops of strawberries, fruit and vegetable peelings, purple cabbage leaves, asparagus stems and egg shells. A yummy treat topped with shredded newspaper. I'd brought in some worms and castings from my worm bin at home and we discovered tons of baby worms, little, tiny threads probably just hatched, as well and some nice, big juicy worms to hold and touch and examine. 

On this beautiful day, children dug for treasures in the dirt, ran in the tall grass (that is until we realized we were disturbing the wetlands environment), had their pictures taken "driving" the tractor. And I kept my promise and found a centipede under the bale of straw along with worms, slugs, pill bugs, and beetles. The centipede didn't like the light and quickly ran away to hide. But we saw him for a few seconds.

Our first book of the day told us, "Live it well, make it count, fill it up with you. The day's all yours, it's waiting now....see what you can do." And we did!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Barnyard Tales- Luscher Farm 4-17-13

What a gorgeous, sunny day to gather for stories and songs on the cushiony carpet in the Luscher farm house. And a full house it was with 15 preschoolers, their moms and grandmas!! What fun to see some of the regulars from last summer and fall. My, how they have grown!! Sort of like the weeds in your garden in spring when you turn your back!! 

The rooster was crowing loudly as the children arrived so we began with When the Rooster Crowed  by Patricia Lillie. A favorite from last season, we call the farmer and his wife in the story Rudy and Esther Luscher. Poor Rudy is really sleepy and doesn't want to get out of bed to feed the animals. The animals complain, the rooster crows and Mrs. Luscher scolds until finally Rudy gets the message. He hops out of bed, feeds the animals and is rewarded with a big stack of pancakes for breakfast. Guess who else was sleepy this morning and couldn't get herself out of bed in time for Barnyard Tales? That hen, Henrietta!! Maybe I can bribe her with pancakes next week! Or maybe she needs a rooster????

With Earth Day just around the corner--April 22--and Luscher Farms bursting with new life--this seemed the perfect day to celebrate our big life-giving home with the poem "Earth Day"  by Jane Yolen from The Three Bears Holiday Rhyme Book. "I am the Earth and the Earth is me," it begins and ends. Another poem, Our Big Home, An Earth Poem by Linda Glaser, beautifully illustrated by Elisa Kleven, reminds us that the air, the water, the soil, and other elements that affect and sustain all of us--people, plants and animals--are shared by all who live on Earth. A beautiful poem. But by then we needed to move a bit so we sang "We're All A Family Under One Sky" from the Ruth Pelham CD by the same title. 

How can we take good care of our Earth home? We learned one way from a delightful book, Compost! by Linda Glaser. It was fun to learn how one little girl's family turns garbage (even the lima beans her mom wishes she'd eat and her moldy Halloween pumpkin!!) into compost that grows beautiful flowers and vegetables. It's called "recycling." 

With all that sunshine, the new tractor was calling. So we sang our tractor song and headed out to the Children's Garden after a quick stop to feed the hens some oatmeal. I don't know which was the more popular, the tractor or the new digging corner. Those diggers truly became one with the earth and no doubt carried some home with them on their hands and clothes!! I agree with Dawn's suggestion to expand the digging corner!! There were some "sharing" lessons going on at the tractor, but all in all, things went smoothly. What fun to pretend you are a farmer, pushing the peddles, steering the wheel, and working the fields!!  

As we checked out Oregon Tilth's apple trees, one of our younger ones from last season, a quiet, serious boy, said, "Remember that snake we saw?" I didn't really, but nodded. His mother insisted we'd never seen a snake. He kept quietly repeating his question. I kept nodding, thinking he'd soon forget it. As we entered the Children's Garden he pointed at the worm bin. Once again, he repeated, "Remember that snake we saw?" Suddenly a light bulb went on!! 

"In that black bin?" I asked. He nodded. Of course, the worms!! Tiny snake-like creatures!! We'd also seen worms at Tilth's compost bin last summer. We opened the worm bin and held the tiny "snakes." He was satisfied. I told him we call them "worms," but I know I will always see them now through his eyes--as little, tiny snakes!!

See you next week!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Barnyard Tales April 10- Welcome Back Readers!

Sunny skies were predicted for Wednesday, April 10, the opening date for our spring session of Barnyard Tales. But in typical April-in-Oregon fashion, the weather can turn on a dime. By the night before, the forecast had changed and rain was headed our way, due to arrive about 10 a.m. that day. But Henrietta and I chose some good stories, tuned the autoharp, grabbed our raincoats and headed out to Luscher Farm. Running late, I rushed into a nursery on the way to buy some radish seeds, part of the day's fun. Laid the seeds on the counter to get my wallet out and looked up to see my seeds in the hands of the customer beside me. What? "Those are mine!" I said, like an indignant preschooler!! The clerk had to quickly intervene. Seems the other customer (another Lynn!) had also bought radish seeds, which she thought he'd forgotten to bag. What a comedy of errors. Lots of laughter ensued and we left good friends!!

I was delighted to have about eight preschoolers show up, a record number for an opening session on such a chilly, wet day. My count isn't too exact because there was lots of movement; late arrivals, early departures, wandering about the room, etc. The toys on the shelves in the classroom were a distraction for some. I finally incorporated them into our final song of the day, but Dawn and I agreed some changes to those shelves are in order. And we plan to move the story time into the comfy, cozy farm house living room in the future except on days when there is a conflict with a class. 

Spring was the theme for the day. After a spirited singing of our welcome song, with everyone calling out their names loud and strong, we began with Spring Song by Barbara Seuling, a story in which animals wake up, explore, help farmers loosen the earth, build nests and start families in the warmth of the season. Henrietta reminded us that it wasn't all that warm yet and led us in a song with stomping thunder, pitter-pattering rain, and wet feathers! Wiggles out, we settled in for Bluebirds Seven, a sweet story about a pair of bluebirds and the joys and challenges they faced raising five babies. It's beautifully illustrated with paintings by noted bird artist R. Bruce Horsfall. Now rare, Western Bluebirds were once common in the Willamette Valley and surrounding foothills and probably lived at or around Luscher Farm. (Out of print now, the Clackamas Co. library system has one copy and used copies are available on the internet.)

With the purchase of a tractor identical to the one Rudy Luscher owned, it seemed fitting to learn a song from the book Driving My Tractor by Jan Dobbins & David Sim. The children did a great job of singing the chorus, "Chug, chug, toot toot toot....." and bouncing along on a bumpy road (or their mom's laps)!! The book, complete with a CD of the song, is available at the Lake Oswego library. Then we read the old favorite The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Being a gardener requires lots of careful tending and lots of waiting. The children each got a tiny packet of radish seeds to take home to plant and tend and watch and wait, just like the little boy in the story.

We braved the weather and headed out to the chickens. Smart girls, they were all in the hen house staying dry. But carrot tops and oatmeal brought them out in a hurry. Don't think they've had many visitors lately and, boy, were they excited to see us. And us, them!! A quick tour of the garden with Children's Garden coordinator Dawn gave the kids a chance to see what's in store this season. Things are really growing there. But no digging this morning. Too muddy. And no tractor play either. Too rainy. So back to the classroom for one last song and story, Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure. Summer? We wondered if it was even spring yet???? Maybe next week?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Final 2012 Barnyard Tale

Why do I love story time at Luscher Farm? Because each session is full of surprises. The biggest this week was that though we found almost no wiggly creatures hiding under the straw bale in the Children's Garden, we had an abundance of wiggly creatures in the
classroom--21 to be exact. No, I didn't transpose that number from 12. Moms and 21 preschoolers crowded into the classroom as we filled the arrival time "practicing" songs until all were settled. Even newcomers had mastered the welcome song by the time we sang it 21 times, once for each child we welcomed by name.

Stories about all things fall--pumpkins, scarecrows, apples, colored leaves and spiders--held their attention though some younger toddlers could be heard playing outside the classroom with their moms--a good decision on the moms' part. It's hard for really young ones to sit still for stories in a group this large. But songs and finger plays engaged nearly everyone: "Eentsy Weentsy Spider", "Autumn Leaves are Falling Down, Red, Yellow, Orange and Brown" (sung to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down), and "Five Little Pumpkins". The moms joined in enthusiastically on our old favorite, "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Suppose they remember it from their childhoods? 
It was in one of my daughter's childhood song books.

We loved the story about a little boy's walk one early fall morning to visit his friend on a neighboring farm. I had lots of help from the audience, making sounds of grass swishing, noses sneezing, dogs woofing and roosters crowing as the story unfolded. I had great storytelling partners!

The biggest surprises always occur once we get to the garden. The grass-green windfall apples we gathered were surprisingly "not sour at all" to quote one little girl. Because the water was off at the garden this morning, we wiped them on our jeans, sliced and ate them, dirt and all. Builds up the immune system the moms and I agreed. 
Another little girl had a menu suggestion for me. "You know what would make these really good? Peanut butter!"

The digging corner was crowded, but that didn't stop the treasure hunters. I just prayed no one would get bopped with a trowel, but they shared the space well and no butterfly bandages were necessary. 
Others went off to see what the well-dressed scarecrow is wearing these days while others checked out the veggies. One child noted that tomatoes are "shiny." Another filled her pockets with green beans.

Two boys spotted a baby mouse who wasn't moving much and when he did, his back legs were splayed to the side. Very strange. I don't know if he was sickly or simply a terrified. The boys were fascinated and though we allowed them to look, we warned them not to touch. "What's his name?" one boy asked. "Let's name him 'Chopper'," he said when I suggested he choose one. Good name for those nasty, veggie-chomping rodents!! However, this wasn't a vole, but your regular, garden- variety mouse with a long tail. "What does his tail look like?" the boy asked and then answered his own question. "It looks like a snake." Children's Garden coordinator captured the little guy and released him into the blackberry brambles. "I didn't want to kill him in front of the kids," Dawn said.

Dawn located our praying mantis friend in the greenhouse so we got to visit him one last time. Had wanted to show the children a spider in action, but no luck in finding one until late when only two little girls were left. There he/she was, in residence, waiting for a treat. 
We caught and threw a bug into the web. Shazam!! We were stunned at the speed with which that spider stunned the insect and encased him in spider silk. If we had blinked, we'd have missed it! The girls were impressed.

Many moms mentioned plans to visit the Children's Garden in weeks to come as long as the weather holds. When the rains begin, I hope those who joined Henrietta and me for story time this summer will bask in the warmth of many happy memories in the garden. Henrietta Hen and I hope to see you again in April, 2013.


P.S. The garden is looking beautiful, Dawn. Your hard work and the efforts of your volunteers are sure paying off. This season was a gratifying experience for me with so many more attending and so many of them regulars. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share stories and music and my love of the garden and young children with these families.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Barnyard Blog Sept. 19, 2012

We gathered in the classroom on this crisp, fall morning for our next-to-last story time for the 2012 garden season. About a dozen boys and girls, mostly young preschoolers and toddlers, many of them there for the first time, joined in the singing as we welcomed everyone. It seems a shame to be ending when so many have just discovered us. But the rain this morning tells me we made the right decision to bring this to a close next week, September  26. It will soon be cold and rainy, not great weather for hanging out in the garden.

We began with a beautiful book, All In a Day, by Portland author Cynthia Rylant. Through rhyming text and intricate cut paper illustrations by artist Mikki McClure, we joined in the beauty and celebration of one little boy's day, through work and rest, rain and sun, comforts and surprises. Check it out at the Lake Oswego Library. We sang about the day. "♫Morning has come, ♪night is away, ♫rise with the sun, and ♪welcome the day" Hand and body motions help to get the wiggles out! 

With this new crowd, we revisited a favorite from earlier in the summer, a big book about the farmer who wants to stay in bed just a little longer as one by one the animals and farmer's wife awaken and urge him to get out of bed and get at those chores. We pretend that it's Rudy and Mrs. Luscher. We also reprised "♫Rudy Luscher Had♪ a Farm♫" pulling the animals out of the lunch box barn verse by verse. Both story and song were fresh and exciting for this group.  

It's pumpkin time. Pumpkin Harvest by Calvin Harris has big, bold, colorful photos of pumpkins and simple text--great for this age group. The photo of a slice of pumpkin pie with a huge dollop of whipped cream was a favorite and the scarecrow with a Jack-o-lantern head was pretty funny. Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer, in which Mouse teaches Cat how to plant and grow a pumpkin is fun, especially when Mouse carves the pumpkin into a cat face Jack-o-lantern as a surprise for Cat.  I had to suspend belief with this story. A mouse planting a seed and nurturing a plant rather than feasting on it? This author obviously hasn't met the voles in my garden plot!! But the story and realistic illustrations nicely set the stage for a pumpkin hunt in the garden. Finished up with "Five Little Pumpkins" finger play. 

No story time would be complete without a visit to the chickens who were eager to try the oatmeal Children's Garden coordinator Dawn had provided. A new treat, plus they already had a pen full of greens. Then we became pumpkin hunters. Not so many in the garden this unusually cool summer. But eventually we found a few in a plot. How many? Count them. Wow! FIVE little pumpkins, like the ones in the finger play, so we recited it again!! Then we found a big, dark orange, bumpy pumpkin in another plot. That was fun to touch. We also saw some little, round green ones, a big papery blossom, and scratchy leaves. Just like in the story. One little boy wanted to find a bee like the one on the blossom in the book. We looked and looked. But no bees were out. Probably because the sun wasn't out either. But we found a treasure trove of creepy, crawly critters under the straw bale: slugs, earthworms, centipedes, beetles, pill bugs, etc. In spite of the overcast, it was too bright for them and they quickly crawled away. From there, some kids headed to the worm bin, others picked--and ate!--green beans, while others just dug in the dirt. The moms talked and exchanged contact info, making plans to get together when story time is over. 

Next week: scarecrows, apples and more pumpkins. Fall has arrived.