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.