After a two week absence from Barnyard Tales I returned to find a whole new audience. I'm guessing our regulars, mostly 3 and 4 year olds, are off to preschool this fall. The new catalog listing dropped the age range from 3-8 to 1-6, which has brought in a whole new and much younger crowd. The oldest of the ten children in attendance were two three-years-olds. The rest, younger--three 2's, four 1's, and a 10 month old whose mother said they just needed a place to go to get out of the house and meet other moms. I quickly adjusted the day's plan. Thank goodness I come loaded with a whole basket full of books, my autoharp, and Henrietta!
After the welcome song, Henrietta greeted the children and told them about her friend Hilda and begged me to read her story: Hilda Hen's Happy Birthday by Mary Wormell. Seems Henrietta's friend was delighted when she found lots of lovely gifts on her birthday--oats, apples, even a dust bath! But were those "gifts" really meant for Hilda? Hmmm, it seems not. In the end, however, her friends do surprise her with a lovely party on her special day and the rooster crows. His version of the "Happy Birthday" song, perhaps? We sang her our version--twice through. Even one-year-olds know and love that song.
With a tractor scheduled to be available for children to explore at the upcoming open house and festivities at Luscher Farms this weekend, it seemed like the perfect day for the tractor books. At least one toddler agreed! There was a squeal of delight when I pulled out Tractors by Hal Rogers and he saw the photo of a big John Deere on it. We mostly just looked at the pictures. But the crowd was getting restless. Time for a song; "If You're Happy and You Know It." Guess they were; there was much happy clapping and stomping and shouting "Hurray!!"
That got some wiggles out so we were ready for Driving My Tractor by Jan Dobbins & David Sim. A rhyming text and colorful illustrations tell the story of a farmer's "very busy day" as he loads an increasing numbers of animals into the trailer hitched to his tractor and drives them down a bumpy country road. We got really good at the tractor noise, "Chug, chug, Clink, clank, toot!" I love how participatory these moms of toddlers are!! The increasingly heavy load and a bumpy road eventually sends those animals flying. What to do? Luckily they were waiting for the farmer in the barnyard when he arrived home. Whew!!
It was time for another song and movement. Music is a lifesaver with this age group. Sitting still is not in a toddler's job description and it often felt like I was speaking to a colony of ants. Still, I wanted to share Dandelions, Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada 'cause I'd gone out and picked all those dandelions and fuzz balls for them. And, after all, aren't dandelions every small child's favorite flower? Had about half the crowd with me. They loved blowing on the fuzz ball. Now we could see all the little seeds--and the teeny, tiny bugs that were on it, the ones now running all over the paper plate. Nature is full of surprises! So we decided to move outside and discover more.
No one had beat us to the chicken pen this morning so the hens weren't even out and about until they heard our voices. They gingerly stepped out of the hen house and then eagerly rushed to the fence for our treats of Swiss Chard and dandelions. The rooster just couldn't stop crowing. Saying, "Thank you," for taking such good care of his ladies, perhaps? Then it was off to the Children's Garden where we were crowing "thank you" for the new pile of soil, a gift from Luscher Farm Coordinator Karen Davis, in the digging corner. Oh, the treasures we found!! And, oh, how we love digging in the dirt. A handful of the older children went into the green house to see the large praying mantis who has taken up residence. Wow! What a handsome guy. We'd been told he was eating a spider earlier in the morning, but he was finished with "breakfast" by the time we arrived.
One of the children commented on how windy it was yesterday. I've been waiting for a windy day to read some stories and poems about the wind, but, of course, hadn't brought them. Hopefully we'll have another windy fall day before Barnyard Tales is over for this season. Besides the wind, we'll check out pumpkins and sunflowers in our last two sessions as fall approaches and we put the garden to bed.