Friday, August 24, 2012

Barnyard Tales from the Farmhouse 8-22-12

The cooler morning air reminded us that fall is just around the corner. It was good to be back on the cozy carpet in the farmhouse for stories. 

Families drifted in slowly. Started with three, but ultimately we had 10 children and a baby. Good to have some of our regulars back from vacation. A baby who earlier in the summer was in a carrier now sits up by himself, squealing with delight to be part of the group. He's growing like a weed. Others who earlier in the summer had trouble sitting "criss-cross applesauce" have nearly mastered it. Yay!! That way everyone can see the pictures. 

Read Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee, a funny story about a horse who gives all the farm animals a ride on his back--faster and faster and faster! You can imagine what happened!! Henrietta showed off for the children with "Peter Piper" and begged me to read My Hen is Dancing by Karen Wallace again. She had an ulterior motive--teaching them the "Chicken Dance." And she did!! It was Oktoberfest right there in Mrs. Luscher's living room--beaks a peckin', wings a flappin', and tails a wigglin'! Aren't chickens silly when they dance?

After all that excitement, we had to settle down with a couple of stories about how animals sleep, even children. As they laid on the carpet I sang "Silly Lullaby" from Philadelphia Chickens..."♫ the chickens in the bathtub, ♫ the closet full of sheep, ♫ the sneakers in the freezer are all drifting off to sleep....." and finally, "♫ The owl is whispering, 'Moo.'" Moo? Really? Moo? They thought that was pretty funny.   

Before we headed out to feed the chickens and check on the garden, we did a "call and response" vegetable chant, Rah, Rah, Radishes!  by April Pulley Sayre. Maybe that's why they were so eager to taste my cherry tomatoes and gobble up the green beans they picked from the vines running up the tepee in the Children's Garden.  One little guy asked, "What happened to all the strawberries?" Time for a conversation about how plants produce crops seasonally. Strawberry season is over. But blackberry season is here. We'd sampled some blackberries (one little boy's favorite "vegetable") on the way to the garden. Yum!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Barnyard Tales August 15, 2012

Back in the classroom after a long time. Good session though we got a late start as the families trickled in over a 15 minute period. Eventually we had five little girls plus a 5-month-old baby brother.  

Owl day. Brought in a half-eaten beet from my garden, complete with vole teeth marks on it, for "show and tell." Talked about the vole problem at Luscher Farm and the recent release of four, young barn owls to try to help control the pests. Why barn owls? Their favorite food is voles!! Shared some books about barn owls. One of the books told us that a nesting pair with four or five owlets can easily eat 1,000 critters in a year. I'll bet there are that many and more at Luscher Farms!! Happy hunting, owls!!

After talking about voles and owls, we enjoyed a story for the two younger girls, I Can't Get My Turtle to Come Out. It might take a cookie to entice a kid out, but a lettuce leaf did the trick for the turtle!! 

Then it was time for silliness. Teeny Weeny Bop is a story about a foolish woman who keeps going back to market, trading in one pet after another--a pig, a cat, a hamster and finally a slug. She's certain that each new pet will be the perfect one, but, of course, they each wreck havoc on her garden and house in their own special way. 

We ended by singing about another foolish woman, the one who swallowed a fly!! And a spider, a bird, a cat, a dog........a horse!! Even our shy girl giggled over that one!

Shorter time outside today because of late start, but had a great time checking out a vole "housing development," an apple tree laden with red apples in Oregon Tilth's garden, and wondering over a variety of tomato that has shiny black fruit. Showed the girls how to make a "Spanish dancer" from a hollyhock blossom and bud, the kind of toy little farm girls might have played with in times past. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Barnyard Tales 8/1

What a fun-filled story time we had in the Luscher Farm's farmhouse this morning!! 

Started slowly with three little girls and a sleeping baby in grandma's arms, but then three more girls arrived. We even sang the welcome song, very softly, to the sleeping baby and declared it a "girls only" morning. We were wrong. Two boys arrived about halfway through story time to balance things out. Total of nine, ages ranging from maybe 10 months to 8-years-old. 

Henrietta Hen was in rare form this morning. She'd seen me dancing around the kitchen to the song "I Love You a Bushel and a Peck" from my Sing Along with Putumayo CD the other day. Asked if she could sing to the children to let them know how much she loves them. 

"Sure," I told her. "If you practice." She did. She also asked to recite the old tongue twister "Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers"--her idea of a good poem.  She wowed the kids with both. They were amazed at how fast her beak whipped out those words!! She taught the kids the chorus of the song so they could "doodle, oodle, oodle" along with her. She has kind of a croaky voice, but she sings with heart!!

As she practiced I remembered an old bushel basket I have. Hmmm, how much is a peck, I wondered? Discovered that a peck is 8 quarts so I brought the bushel basket and 8 quart jars filled with foodstuffs so we could see just how much Henrietta loves them and how many pepper Peter Piper had to pick. The song also talks about lovin' you "a barrel and a heap." A barrel is three bushels. We don't know how much a heap is, but it must be a lot!! Now we know how farmers measure produce. And the size of Henrietta's heart!

We read a couple of stories about gardens and tractors and then it was time for more excitement. A mom had brought "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. " She sang the song and held the old lady who, one by one. gobbled up the animals the children held. I strummed the autoharp and watched in wonder as the old lady swallowed, verse after verse, a fly, a spider (that wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her and kept doing so 'til the end!!), a bird, a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow and a horse. She died, of course!! 

But were we done with the fun? Nope. Still had a June Bug beetle in a jar to check out. I found this amazing insect in my home garden and captured it to show the kids. We made the chickens happy with flowering broccoli and bolting lettuce, peeked at the hundreds of starts in the CSA's greenhouse, and finished up checking out what's new and fascinating in the Children's Garden.