Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dairy Workshop: Day 3

Today was jam packed!  I didn’t think we were going to get everything in, but we did.  The class has been learning about dairy goats and dairy cows… but just like life on the farm is unpredictable, this class can be as well!  I always begin the class with Farm News.  This is a time for me to share all of the crazy things that happen each week, in between our class times.  Today’s Farm News included stories of us unloading our new steer, a talk about how I plan to feed him out for processing in January, our livestock guardian dog’s leg injury, and a very dramatic tale of the new steer knocking the gate off of the hinges and letting everyone run free!  There really is never a dull moment!

Last year, one of my students suggested that we have a Farm News recap on the last day of each workshop.  I loved the idea, and I am combining this concept with our last writing assignment.  For next week, the students will be the “news anchor”.  They will rewrite a Farm News story from the workshop, and read it as if they were on television.  I have a feeling this is going to be seriously FUN!  So, for next week, the kids should pretend they are a news anchor and each work on writing ONE of the news stories from this workshop (or tell about one of the lessons/activities that we did here in class).  If your child would like to actually record their news broadcast next week, wear your Farm Fusion tee-shirt!  (This is a no-stress allowed project!  If they would like to write it, but not read it out loud, that is fine!)

Those in the older class can work as a group if they would like.  If they choose to work with others, they will need to make sure not to tell the same story as their fellow anchor!

Our lesson today was on dairy cattle and goats.  They learned the different terms cow, bull, steer, heifer, buck, doe, and more.  We talked about the differences between store bought milk (which is pasteurized and homogenized) and “raw milk” that is straight from the cow.  They learned why you do not see goat butter in the stores…. goat’s milk is naturally (partially) homogenized, so the cream does not separate as easily as cow’s milk does.  After our lesson, both classes were able to spend time outside with the animals.  They ate an outdoor snack, and listened to our version of the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff, using names of our small, medium, and large goats.  Then, each student read his or her story that they worked on at home.  Again, I absolutely love the creativity that they have!  I am a big fan of farm-based stories, and I get to hear so many unique tales… sometimes about my very own animals.  It’s the best!
Ms. Gina brought technology to the classroom today!  I usually have a coloring sheet for the kids to work on before class begins.  It relates to the lesson, and gives them something to focus on while we wait for everyone to arrive.  Today, their coloring sheet was a dairy cow that can come alive with the Quiver App.  Ms. Gina brought Ipads so the tables would take turns making their cow and little bird come alive in 3D! 

The classes learned the proper technique for hand-milking.  They then used a glove to practice this technique.  It works really well, and it doesn’t require a very patient goat!  Next week, we will take our skills straight to the goat and milk our Saanen doe, Vanna White!  The students will learn the importance of proper hygiene, teat washing, filtering, and other important safety measures. 

In art, Ms. Gina taught the class about marionettes.  The students cut paper towel rolls to become the body and head of their animal marionette.  They have been studying cows and goats, but they can make any animal they’d like for this project.  Today, they worked on painting these pieces.  Next week, we will add the legs, neck, and the strings that will hold it up!

It’s hard to believe that next week is the last day of this workshop. We will have one week off and be back on October 11th for our next unit!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dairy Workshop: Day 2

Thank goodness for electricity!  So many of our Farm Fusion families were without power during Hurricane Irma, but we were able to have class today.  The classes got to hear all about the work involved in bringing in silkies, ducks, and rabbits, locking up the goats, horse, donkey, and dogs, and getting food and water to all the new locations.  To top it off, I caught a snake in the middle of eating one of my wooden eggs in the duck's nest!  Needless to say, that didn't fly with me!
It was definitely a crazy weekend and first few days of the week

We talked about so much today!  The classes went over the food groups, serving sizes, healthy food choices, and then zeroed back in on dairy. They learned the differences between the udders and teats of cows and goats, what cream is,  why our goats are hornless, and so much more!

The classes did such a great job with their writing assignments!  Again, this is not meant as a stressor, but simply to be a positive and social writing experience.  They really love listening to each others' stories, and I absolutely love their creativity!   I read them the story "The Silver Cow", which is a tale from Wales.  Each week, we will hear a new story that relates to our topic.

In art, the kids mixed their own milk paint!  They talked about primary colors and combined and mixed their own shades.  I love the way these turned out!  It's similar to watercolor, but b
older... and it dries thicker and more bright!

This week's writing assignment --  Come up with ANY story at all that has a cow and/or a goat as a character!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Day of Farm Fusion 2017!

Although the weatherman called for rain, we had a perfect fall day for our first Farm Fusion class! 

The students learned the rules of the farm which boil down basically to respect for animals, classmates, and teachers, respect for boundaries, and respect for property.  Each year, I explain to the students the importance of creating a stress-free, positive atmosphere here in our Farm Fusion class.  If we can keep that environment, we will be able to do some seriously cool things this year!  I have no doubt that this will be another fantastic school year!

Today, we kicked off the class with a lesson in dairy.  The kids will be studying all about dairy for the next four weeks, including its role in keeping the body healthy (food group/nutrition study), different animals that give us milk, products made with milk, and even how to milk a goat!  After a farm tour where each student was introduced to all of the animals on the farm, we began our discussion on the food groups.  We talked about serving sizes, and how we cannot live of off only chicken nuggets!  The class also discussed the animals that give us milk.  We will be focusing next week on cows, but this workshop will cover both cows and goats.  Actually, I explained to the class that I have even used sheep’s milk soap!  The younger students learned about mammals and how they all give milk to their babies…. but not all mammals store up a large supply in udders! 

For art, the kids learned about mosaics.  They talked about the history of mosaics and worked on a cow mosaic picture using construction paper.  Most finished today, but some will finish up next week.  We will continue to correlate art lessons with the agriculture lessons each week!


Our story today was Jack and the Beanstalk.  Much to my surprise, many students had never heard the full story!  Sometimes, as adults, we assume that children have heard the stories or songs that we grew up with… but that is not always the case!  We talked about Old Bess, Jack and his mother’s old milking cow.   In this version of the story, Old Bess was bought back from the old man at the end of the story.  At home, the students will be working on their own version of Jack and the Beanstalk!  They can change any part of the story to make it their own…. They can even write it from the perspective of Old Bess, who spent most of the story in the hands of the strange old man!  There is no wrong or right with the creative writing assignments.  I simply use these as a catalyst for creativity… and hopefully it can make writing fun!