I will be working with a preschool for ages 3 to 6 in the fall. Does anyone have any specific curriculum for these ages. Any insight or words of wisdom to share. Is anyone doing any programming with this age?
The preschool is located on the property that I work on in Peterborough, NH. I will be installing a high tunnel and developing an orchard within walking distance of the school, literally about 100 feet. We will be using portable chicken tractors during the warm months and a permanent coup during the cold months in the orchard.
The preschool director is all excited about the possibility of our working together.
The National Farm to School Network has a new National Farm to Preschool Initiative. Here is the website that contains many fantastic resources: http://www.farmtopreschool.org/
Project Seasons has great lessons for K-5th grade:http://store.shelburnefarms.org/product/129/education_resources
VT FEED has sample Food, Farm and Nutrition Curriculum:http://www.vtfeed.org/materials/vermont-farm-school-food-farm-and-n...
The California School Garden Network also has some great lessons:http://csgn.org/curriculum
CTNOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association, CT Chapter) has a School Garden Network. Read their most recent Newsletter.
At Drumlin Farm, where I am, we operate a farm and nature-based preschool...so anything we come across outside of our farmhouse classroom has the potential to become part of the learning environment. I think this is usually the case with preschools based on farms. Having said that, we subscribe to an emergent curriculum development approach- meaning that our students collaborate with our teachers and the place to design learning experiences.
Aside from the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, we also offer summer camp and seasonal programs for children and their families throughout the year.
There are many examples of different lessons/activities that could be good resources for you. I'd be happy to share a list/data dump over a good conversation, but I maintain that what's most important is how your program can integrate the innate curiosity and engagement of young learners in these amazing settings for learning.
Please feel free to call/email/visit me at Drumlin Farm. I'd love to give you a tour and share what we've learned over the years.
I would like to second the comments posted by Kris Scopinich! I am the Director of Nature Education at Children's Country Day School in MN. We have 7 acres with gardens, small orchard, and various farm animals. Emergent curriculum is key to successful work with children and animals and/or plants. There are so many variables as to when things will be ripe, how animals will behave, what children will be interested in, that rigid lesson planning often gets in the way of learning.
However one seemingly contradictory piece to successful emergent curriculum is the necessity of planning. If I go to explore the garden with a group of children am I prepared for them to weed, water, harvest, or sketch? Is the farrier coming to trim hooves at a good time for the children to observe? Do I have a camera and notebook to capture what the children are doing in order to share it with parents? I always start with a plan, but it could be as simple as a series of questions.
I would love to discuss these topics more with other early childhood FBEA members!
Taproot Nature Experience is a field school but we do visit many farms and food projects are always a favorite with this age group. It's important to facilitate process and keep expectations low for specifics. Often we spare areas to follow up with more successful plantings but mid season weeding, any digging, harvesting, washing, eating are always great. You certainly could ask for better watering help! Have fun! I highly recommend 'Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots'.
I run a parent-toddler program at Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz, NY. Each week we focus on a different theme (colors, shapes, a part of the plant, scent, animals, bugs, etc.). We always harvest vegetables to cook a snack together and make a craft. For example, we recently had "root" day where we dug up potatoes and cooked mashed potatoes, churned butter, and made "root people" (think mr. potato head using seeds for eyes, popsicle sticks, and toothpicks).
I find that simple works best. The kids are happy just being on the farm! I try to spend as little time as possible giving formal lessons and just let the kids explore using their senses. I would be happy to talk to you more about the specific curriculum that we use.