The month of November has brought us many opportunities to reinforce community, sharing, gratitude and abundance!
We all picked carrots – the last of the abundant harvest !! - to take home, and then got to see the Tangerini's new farm machine that picks carrots and loads them into a bin - in action!!!
We read and then brought to life the story, The Apple Cake, about an old woman who 'fills many buckets' on her journey into town to find apples to make an apple cake. We even make our own apple cake to bake in our reflector oven, but lost the oven in the fire pit before the bread could bake (reflector ovens apparently need heat, but not flame.....!!)
We brought out the hammers and 'certified' some Sprouts to use hammer and nails when they are available.
We saw, in 2 beloved stories (The Quiltmaker's Gift and Extra Yarn), that giving feels good and helps other people. We started sewing quilt squares to make blankies to donate to families with children who don't have blankies. We will have 'quilt kits' available at drop off on Monday and Tuesday to take home over Thanksgiving break for anyone who's interested in sewing some squares with their families.
Cheetah babies has been the game of the month (a made up game that all of the kids play with varying levels of peace and happiness), and inspired a family meeting where we all weighed in on how we feel about that game as well as hitting (roughhousing that leads to hitting for fun, or hitting yourself to make people laugh). As it turns out, most of the kids like the cheetah game (as long as they are included....) but a few are scared when others play it. We all agreed that if anyone is feeling scared or sad because of the game, Christine and I will help the group find another game to play. We let everyone know that hitting of any sort is not ok at Sprouts. We also agreed that you need to ask if someone wants to play that or any other 'scary' game, and answer back when someone says they don't want to play that game. They always get lots of practice asking others if they'll hand over a tool or other item 'once they are done' and working through sad or frustrated feelings when they can't get what they want right away:)
We celebrated the light in each of us that shines even brighter when we are together – community, family and the changing seasons - with our Lantern Walk. Each child made a lantern and then we gathered around the fire, warmed lavender water over the fire for cloths to clean our hands and faces before our special 'tea party', lit out lanterns from the fire (Christine and I lit tapers to light their tea lights), sang a few songs (Down with Darkness: Down with darkness, up with light. Up with sunshine down with night. Each of us is one small light, but together we shine bright! Go away deepest darkest night. Go away, make way for light) and This Little Light of Mine, and then took a walk with our lanterns around the yurt.
We wish all of you a beautiful week filled with love and gratitude for all that Is. Christine and I are so grateful to be surrounded by such light-filled families.
The farm has been beyond beautiful the past few weeks and our days have been filled with appreciating fall in all of it's glory:) - from the vibrant colors to the falling, blowing leaves, black walnuts and pine needles, to the variable temperatures that are so typical in October - layers on, layers off!
But, before we dive into what we've been up to - we want to WELCOME our newest Sprout, Melayna, and her mom and dad - Dashe and Michael. Melayna is 3 and lives in Sharon. She comes to Sprouts on Mondays and Thursdays, so if you haven't met her or her mom, please keep an eye out for them. Melayna has settled right in - you'd never know she hasn't been here since September:) I've added them to our directory. Please add them to your email group list - or just use the addresses on the email I send out tonight for future emails so they are included:)))
So here goes -
Leaves- We read a few great books featuring trees/leaves and heard an autumn leaves poem, looked closely at the colorful leaves Christine collected on her weekend in VT, collected our own leaves and glued them, made rubbings with them, used them to make prints and painted on them
Some of us piled up, kicked, swooshed, smelled and got buried in the leaves up by Mr and Mrs Ts house.
And we started gathering the kids' impressions, observations and other interesting musings for the Tree/Leaf 'chapter' of a Fall Floor Book we are making.
Pumpkins/squash/gourds - We read Pumpkin, Pumpkin, sang some pumpkin songs, looked at all kinds of squashes- talked about how they are all different but part of the same family, carved our pumpkin, scooped slimy seeds ( Liz roasted for us savory (salt) and sweet (maple syrup), cut open the gourds and squashes and saw how similar they all are on the inside, and then collected some of their observations, reflections, musings about all things pumpkin/squash/gourd to create our Pumpkin 'chapter' of the Fall Floor Book
Ropes hit the scene the past few weeks. We've had them available in our silks and fabric basket since last year, but this week a few kids found them and they are now an engaging element in the yard:)
We moved the Bog Bridge! We started the week before Family Friday, forging a trail with the kids through the bog where we wanted the bog bridge to be. On Family Friday, some of the farmers came down and moved the big section that spanned the Frog Creek segment of the bog down about 20 feet away from Frog Pond. Christine and her husband Tommy finished the job on Sunday - Tommy moved the rest of the pieces!!! And then he fit and screwed them together so now it looks like it's been there all along! Amazing:) We had more ground (bog) to cover and just as our luck would have it, my neighbor had a section of plank, just like our bog bridge, leaning up against her shed where I could see it. I asked (strange request!), they were happy to get rid of it. Perfect!!
Applesauce over the fire- first fire pit days of the year went well! We got to talk about the fire, prep the apples and eat the applesauce at slunch. Smokey applesauce:) Yum. Thank you so much Karyn, Stephanie, Tanya and Scott for spending the mornings with us and playing with us so we could add the fire pit to our experience and make delicious applesauce with the Tangerini's apple drops!!!
Chores - model it and they will come!! We've been purposely holding off on bringing our chore clips back since the group is much bigger than last year. Instead, we've (adults) been doing the jobs that need to get done and..... lo and behold..... somebody always asks if they can help:) Wiping tables, setting tables, helping get snack prepared, sweeping the carpets, sweeping the deck and patio and washing dishes. We may use the clips as the year moves along, but we like how they spontaneously want to do what has to get done. The same holds true for helping around your house! They are born designed to learn from doing what you do - the trick is to make it look fun:) and let them participate as much and for as long as they are interested. We sent out a chore list in the last blog post with chores for kids at different ages. It's a great investment now to make helping you out around the house be fun and helpful, rather than jobs they are expected to perform and disappoint you if they don't. Chores will be much easier down the line if they feel like they are a big help to you now. Basic self care, and space/toy management are exceptions but even with those, it's easier if they are following your lead at this age.
Visitors! A preschool teacher, a graduate student, and an early childhood shop class (2, actually) from TriCounty Vocational Technical School. Some of them came during Sprouts, some came on a Friday. All of them in LOVE with what we all are doing!! Our intention is to create ripples in as many places as possible, so these visits are an essential part of advocating for a reframe of Kindergarten going forward:)
The pond- is now a beautiful mirror reflecting the brilliant leaves near our yard!! We are working with Brian (Caleb's dad) to put up a split rail fence as a visual boundary between our yard and the pond. We created a branch boundary when the big digger and dump truck were there and it remains in place and completely effective as a boundary. The kids rarely talk about, focus on or interact with the fact that we have a pond next to us. It's as if an invisible wall has been erected! We continue to give them the illusion of non-engaged adult supervision, but one of us is always in close enough proximity to step in if anyone decides to breach the boundary:))
Bad guy/Weapon play-
2 good blog posts about gun/weapon play in early childhood:
Our philosophy at Sprouts:
All play has its purpose. Children use play to explore their power and to work out and work through the myriad of sensory input they process each day. When kids play, whether it be weapons/guns, pots and pans, shovels and excavators, baby cheetahs, etc., they are experimenting with being, and practicing a wide range of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. All of what shows up gives both of us (Christine and Lisa) lots of opportunities to help the kids learn the impact their choices have on themselves, and in the group.
We typically give them some space to explore and experience whatever comes up and weapon/gun/bad guy themes came up early. We had a group meeting about how it made each person feel (Sept) and found many kids didn't like it...but most said they like to play it sometimes. In other (adult) words, it's fun to a point, and then it's not. We agreed that most of the kids don't like it and decided you have to ask before you play a weapon-related game with other kids. It abated, for the most part it went away and the kids morphed and meshed through infinite other scenarios, for a month, and last week it was back! We reminded everyone that they need to check in before playing bad guy games, and of their right to say no and to change their minds if they decide they don't like it mid-game, but by the end of the day Thursday it was clear we need another group meeting on the subject. We'll be starting this week revisiting how people feel and revisiting/making some more group rules about what we play and how so that everyone can have fun and not feel scared.
Here are some foundational rules around play in general at Sprouts:
- sticks need to be the length of your arm or shorter (so cool to see them picking up sticks on the fly, putting them under their arms and breaking off extra length mid-play scenario.)
- it's not OK to point a stick at someone to shoot at them.
- you need to ask if it's OK/if other kids want to play bad guys/weapon games with you
- Others can change their mind at any time by saying 'I don't want to play that game!' and when they do you have to stop including them in the game.
- if someone falls or gets hurt while you are playing (whether you caused the fall/hurt or not), you need to check in with them, help them up, ask if they need anything
- This is how we play at Sprouts. There are different rules at home and in other places.
The process of establishing how they feel, and how others feel, in a variety of play scenarios is extremely important in the development of self-regulation, empathy, self-advocacy, emotional intelligence, and so much more. It's tempting to use our adult filters to analyze a child's behavior, choices and play, but all of what young children do....all children do...is their massive, constant work of processing and making sense of an infinite flow of sensory stimulation and experiences. Have no doubt that the examples we set with our words, choices and behavior, within and outside of out families, are the guiding model for choices, decisions and behavior they will copy as they grow up. (but all bets are off from age 12-18...!!)
There's a peek (or a bit more) at what we've been up to. Looking forward to more great days at play this week:)
This week had quite a few out of the ordinary things going on. We took school pictures on Monday/Tuesday, which included a musical parade and a silly song. We played a hide and seek game with instruments, noting how we can make music with things in nature (gourds, sticks) followed by a parade up through the barn and a funny song about putting a baby to bed while the kids waited to get their pictures taken. We had a group birthday celebration for all of our summer birthdays on Wednesday. Everyone got their special birthday crown and we shared a delicious fruit and apple crisp snack up in the woods. The big news (and noisiest part of the week:) was the big trucks that worked all week finishing up the irrigation pond that will be fed from the natural spring in Frog Pond and provide much-needed dependable water throughout next year's growing season and beyond. Our landscape has changed quite a bit and we spent some time watching what the trucks were doing and redefining what our boundaries are with the pond now part of our magical Sprouts space. We ended the week with an incredible spread of delicious food as it poured outside on a chilly fall evening at our Harvest Dinner!! It was nice to have Laura and Charlie join us for a bit and Laura Sullivan was a special surprise, playing her sweet music for the kids. A special night for sure! Looking forward to another adventurous week ahead!
Hello mamas and papas!! Welcome to our weekly blog post. As you might have noticed:) I've put some of our pictures up in a slide show to give you all a window into our week.
We had another amazing week on the farm and in the yard! The kids have all become accustomed to our routine and we are having great days filled with wonder, joy and play! ...and negotiation, name remembering, taking turns, exploring, as well as observing and interacting in/with our space, each other and our own feelings. We're learning about 'checking in' when someone gets hurt by or near you ('are you ok?' how can I help?') as well as asking to 'have a turn when you're done' - which is really hard when you REALLY want to play with something NOW:)
We read "Have you Filled a Bucket Today?" which has resulted in many 'noticings' both of bucket dipping and bucket filling amongst the kids, picked cherry tomatoes and raspberries for snack, became acquainted with the compost mountain near the yurt, drew in our journals, watched the farmers throw pumpkins!!, helped prepare snack, watched the excavator fill a giant dump truck over and over as they create an irrigation system for the farm, used scissors to clip the grass near the exploration station table, built 'pirate ships' and bridges... and said goodbye to Summer and hello to Fall with Christine's drum and adorned our 'nature table' with colors and items that remind us of fall. And much more:)
Their stamina is impressive - many kids running to the hill at the end of the day and few falls on our walks. Bumps and bruises are pretty common and we try to let you know if they've required a bandaid or a kiss to make it feel better. We talk to the kids about layers and check in regularly to see if any layers need to come off or go on. Our goal is to have them tuned in to their own body and feel comfortable adding or taking off layers to stay comfortable as they play. If you ever have any questions, please email or call us!!
The excavation of the irrigation pond has brought the pond right up to the yurt yard from the Bog Bridge down to Frog Pond. We'll be keeping in touch with you as we establish our plans for our new 'waterfront', ie: we will be putting up a rail on the bog bridge along the pond. Our intention is to incorporate the pond into our 'curriculum' and create safe boundaries and an awareness of staying safe near the water, as we do with all other potential hazards in and around our natural space.
Our menu for next week will be the same: M/Tu: almonds, cashews, rice crackers, apples, veggies and hummus from the farm/farm stand, muffins. We are eating inside now, so avocado will probably be included on Wed/Th (along with nuts, apples and nut/sun nut butters, our g-f muffins, and whatever we can pick on the farm or get from the farm stand). We included chia pudding one day last week - coconut milk, chia, maple syrup and cinnamon - but not many chose to eat it. We'll bring that back now and then and see who 'bites' :) If you have a great snack that your kids love and can be shared (no tree nuts, mango, banana or gluten), please let us know! It's always fun to have a new treat.
Lisa is taking a Lifeways course right now (Christine took the same course last fall!) and there are a few great articles/posts from the course that we thought you might like.
A unique look at growth and development:
Caring for the Life-Forces of the Young Child
Creating Rhythm at Home and Work, by Jaimmie StugardKids learn by imitation:
20 Simple Habits for Kids to Imitate
Age Appropriate Practical Work:
(Christine shared this 'chores by age' list last year too)
Enjoy your week!!
Christine and Lisa
Christine and I are so excited to start our second year of Sprouts @ Tangerini's Farm. A warm welcome to the 8 new families joining our Sprouts community and welcome back to our returning Sprouts and their families!! We can't wait to get back to play and work on the farm and in the forest with all of you!
There are plenty of new things to see and do in and around the farm, yurt, yard and Fairy Forest. For our parents, we have some new additions to the website this year. You've found this blog by accessing the password protected Parent Portal (if all works as planned!!). We will be posting at least weekly to this blog - a summary of our week with a few pictures to give you all a peak into what is happening at Sprouts. We are open to input, so if you have any suggestions for how we can make it even better, please let us know!!
We'd like to kick off the year by sharing some of our collective 'words of wisdom' for cultivating a healthy, thriving family:
- A full night's sleep is absolutely essential for everyone in the family.
- Love and respect your children, and yourself- the rest takes care of itself.
- Keep it simple. Less is more. They will accumulate everything they need to know, as they are ready, along the way.
- Minimize media and technology time. It gets away from you/becomes a huge battleground/stressor as they grow. Technology time/media time crowds out the time they need for exploring and observing the world around them - essential for healthy development. They will pick up the technology skills they need as they need them for school or work.. #getoutsideandplay
-All children learn by observing - mostly you, but observing anything and everything they experience - so, how you relate to others, choices you make and how you spend your time are direct downloads and secondary to anything you 'teach’ them. Do as I say, not as I do is a farce and an uphill battle.
But most importantly, TRUST YOUR GUT. You know what's best for your child(ren) and will always be their #1 fan and advocate as they grow. TRUST YOUR CHILDREN - they are designed to grow and learn at their own pace, following their own path..
We look forward to another amazing year with all of you!
Christine and Lisa