The fall season is always a favorite in our house: the fresh, cool air, the colorful leaves; and, of course, the pumpkins! Since our twins were two years old, we’ve ventured out to local farms for pumpkin picking and races through the corn maze. But this year was special; we got to spend our annual pumpkin picking with our friends from Silver Spring Day School.
Friends on the Sharp’s Farm field trip.
This past week, the pre-K classes left their classrooms for Sharp’s at Waterford Farm in Brookeville, Maryland. The trip to Sharp’s Farm marks the first field trip of the year, but students have many more to look forward to as the year progresses. According to pre-K teacher Ms. Emily, field trips provide important opportunities to connect real-world learning to concepts students are exploring in the classroom. She is enthusiastic about the trip to the farm, explaining, “Experiential learning is the way that most people learn best, and that is especially true for young children.”
SSDS has been taking field trips to Sharp’s Farms for several years. It’s a working farm—a nice alternative to some of the larger farms, and offers the kids and parents a more intimate setting.
Pre-K class picks corn at Sharp’s Farm.
The trip began with social time with some pretty outgoing goats—they accepted each kernel of corn given to them and scaled up walls with ease. The day continued with a tractor-pulled hayride around the farm—a little more exciting than most hayrides—going through streams, and led by Farmer Chuck, who entertained everybody with wildlife trivia. The trip ended with pumpkin picking, a short walk through the corn maze, and picking corn for popping!
Although we grownups experienced the trip as simply a fun fall outing with our little ones, for the kids, the field trip ties into some key science elements they are exploring in pre-K.
According to Ms. Emily, “One of the big science objectives for pre-K is to learn about how plants grow. At Sharp’s at Waterford Farm, kids can tug pumpkins off the vine and pull corn off the stalk. We’ll continue that learning at school by letting the kids crack open some of the pumpkins and pull the dried kernels off the corn. Later in the year, we’ll continue by planting peas in the classroom and in the garden, by planting the wheat berries we get at the bakery, and by cooking with herbs from the playground. All along, we’re using vocabulary like roots, seeds and sprouts, and making the connection between the food we eat and the way it grows.”
The author’s son, Griffin, is a fan of the farm.
As the kids bounced around on the hayride, some loving the ride, some not so sure what to think, and holding the hands of their friends tightly, I looked around and realized how lucky my family is to be a part of the SSDS community.
I saw my kids’ friends dating back to Ms. Cathy’s Rolling Twos, through their years in Ms. Kim’s Young Threes and Ms. Alison’s Fours, and now their new friends from Ms. Kelley’s pre-K. I also saw moms (and a couple of dads) who I’ve known for almost four years, whose kids I have watched grow through the years and who have introduced me to their new family additions. These are families my children and I have come to know, and who have become a big part of our lives.
As my kids searched out their good friends on the hayride, I realized how my kids have grown more socially confident at SSDS. I’m reminded what a special place SSDS is: by its nature, our school provides not just our kids, but our parents as well, so many opportunities to build meaningful relationships with each other.
It was not the first time I realized how lucky we parents are to be part of the school and part of the supportive community that forms naturally both within and outside of its walls.
By Nicole Barber-Vincent (Mom to Olive and Griffin in Ms. Kelley’s pre-K, and Dylan, 8 ½ months)