March 2020: Nature Notes - Littlest Learners Emergent Curriculum
Updated: Apr 23
C. Tootsie Jablonski 2020
We really made the most of the two weeks of March we got to spend together here at the Farmstead! The Littlest Learners learned all about simple machines and how they can help us do many tasks around the farm. We noticed lots of signs of spring returning to the Farmstead, including many types of birds, new sprouts in the herb garden, and swelling buds on the trees in the forest. We celebrated the springtime showers with lots of puddle jumping and mud making. It was a great time to be out in the wild!
While we usually focus mainly on the natural sciences, this month we shifted gears a little bit to study physics and simple machines. We really had a blast learning about inclined planes, wheels, pulleys, and wedges, and how we can use them to help us get work done more easily. Down in the garden we learned that a shovel is both a wedge and a lever. Then we used these machines to help Mrs. Michelle turn over some of the garden beds so that they are ready for planting. While we did this we also got to talk about soil health and how we can best care for our soil so that it can help our garden plants grow. We were delighted to discover a few husk cherries still lying on the soil underneath their old mother plant. Some still looked fresh enough to eat, but we didn’t! Instead we harvest the tiny seeds from inside the fruit and planted them in fresh dirt in our greenhouse. By the end of the month they had started to sprout, and now we are looking forward to putting them out in the garden and having fresh fruits to snack on in late summer.
To learn about wheels, we each got to design and build our own race cars! We also got to help Ms. J build a racetrack. This was a great opportunity to practice our math skills as we had to use measuring and addition to get the job done. Once it was complete, we had a Farmstead Derby and the winner was….. EVERYONE! (Because everyone’s a winner when we’re playing outside with our friends!) We also learned about pulleys, and set up a pulley system on the platform that allows us to hoist our backpacks up from the bottom!
A big change we noticed in the forest during these two weeks was that the birds are coming back! We have noticed eastern bluebirds, robins, carolina wrens, turkeys, crows, vultures, blue jays, chickadees, and even a pair of goldfinches! We noticed that it's a very exciting time to watch birds because there are not enough leaves on the trees to block them from view!
Speaking of leaves, we have been excitedly watching all of the leaf and flower buds on the trees and bushes swell and burst! Our maple tree is in full bloom, and we were amazed to discover how small and delicate the flowers are! Some of us thought they were just buds from far away, or that the flowers would grow bigger, but it turns out that the flowers just really are that small! We have really enjoyed making predictions about whether a certain tree or bush will make leaves first or flowers first. It helps us practice our close observations skills and to learn more natural science.
Many new flowers are starting to appear in the forest. We noticed lots of beautiful white bloodroot flowers popping up near dirt slides, and decided that we should officially close off-trail travel for the season in order to protect these and other fragile species growing on the forest floor. In our garden spaces, we noticed the green leaves of tulips, yarrow, echinacea, bee balm, lemon balm, and daylilies emerging from the soil to start collecting energy to make flowers. The crocus, daffodils, violets, and grape hydrangeas are already blooming and adding beautiful colors to the school yard.
The letters we studied this month were Q for Queen Anne’s Lace and V for Vinca. We really enjoyed seeing the vinca in full bloom and had some interesting conversations and questions about it, such as “Can a vinca vine grow to a mile long?” and “Why is the flower purple?” We always get excited to talk about big questions like these knowing that we are learning the scientific skills to be able to answer them for ourselves one day!
Sadly, our month was cut short just before reaching the last letter of the alphabet! But we are looking forward to coming back together soon and seeing how much has changed while we were away from the Farmstead!