Welcome to The Farm!
Quarter 4: Week 7
This past week we began our Model Rockets Unit at the farm. We learned that rockets rely on Newton's Third Law of Motion to launch high into the sky. This law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of rockets, exhaust is forced out of the bottom of the rocket towards the ground while an opposite force thrusts the rocket up into the air. We began our rocket training by creating paper rockets that we launched with soda straws. These rockets flew 10-20 feet into the air. Next week we will advance to 2-liter soda bottles that require water and air pressure to launch the bottles 50-100 feet into the air. We will end the school year with a bang by building and launching model rockets that can fly hundreds of feet into the air and even have parachutes for safe landing.
The chickens are almost ready to leave their brooder and live outside in the barn and pastures. As we continue to observe the chicks grow, we have learned that they enjoy flying up to perch on the top of the their wooden box as well as perch on our arms and shoulders. We also made progress in the farm garden this week by building a trellis for the cucumbers and beans. We look forward to the warm, sunny weather coming our way so we can continue to plant lots of delicious veggies and herbs. Spring cleanup continued as several groups practiced teamwork to remove large brush piles and heavy logs from the pasture so we can begin mowing the grass. We also uncovered the pool and should have it ready for swimming in the coming week.
Quarter 2: Week 7
This week at the farm we concluded our Santa's Workshop project by adding the finishing touches to our wooden gifts. With a little paint, glitter, and colorful string, we finished our ornaments and wall hangings. Back at Coulee Connections, students decorated gift bags and wrote holiday cards to include with their handmade gifts. We then headed outside to explore the creek, stack firewood in the woodshed, and warm up with a campfire and s'mores. After winter break, we will explore how animals survive the cold, we will search for animal tracks and other clues, and hopefully we will have lots of snow to play in, too!
Quarter 2: Week 6
Santa's Workshop has seen a lot of hard working students this week. Here at the farm, students are making a variety of carefully crafted wooden gifts to give to family and friends. We are continuing to improve our woodworking skills. Some are learning how to use a coping saw to cut complicated shapes, while others are practicing precision while hammering nails into specific patterns. Everyone was challenged to bring focus and creativity to their projects as they sanded away imperfections and added colorful details. Santa's Workshop has also brought opportunities for students to practice cooperation and responsibility while sharing tools and other supplies, collecting firewood to heat the workshop, and doing cleanup chores together. Overall, students have demonstrated a great deal of determination and persistence during this project as they practiced new skills and overcame mistakes. Great job, everyone!
Quarter 2: Week 5
It was winter wonderland at the farm this past week. We played in the snow and gathered a lot of firewood to keep Santa's workshop warm. This week we made homemade apple crisp over a campfire and began making wooden gifts for the holidays. We are learning how to use a coping saw to cut wooden shapes and continuing to practice using a hammer and nails. Next week we will continue being Santa's elves when we paint, wood burn, and decorate our gifts.
Danish Bonfire Bread Recipe
What you'll need
- 4 cups apples sliced thinly (with or without peel)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Aluminum Foil
Build campfire, or preheat grill/oven to 350 degrees. Tear off 4 sheets of aluminum foil about 8'' x 12''. Evenly divide apples between the four pieces of tinfoil. In a small bowl mix together sugar and cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle over the top of the apples. In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together butter, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal and baking powder. Evenly sprinkle of the top of the apple mixture. Fold foil packets up and seal. Place on a grate over campfire, or in the oven, or on the grill grate. Bake for about 20 minutes. Carefully open foil packets, top with ice cream if desired, and enjoy!
Quarter 2: Weeks 2- 4
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been exploring an ancient hunting tool called the atlatl, which comes from the Aztec word for spear thrower. This tool dates back to 15,000 B.C. and was used for thousands of years before bow and arrow was invented. It consists of a stick with a hook that throws a dart faster and farther than it could be thrown by hand alone. This ancient technology still exists today as people compete in atlatl competitions around the world.
We began by experimenting with a ball thrower, which uses the same principles as an atlatl but is used to play fetch. We made predictions and conducted an experiment to determine if the length of the ball thrower arm affected the distance the ball traveled. We then practiced throwing darts using an atlatl. Students made their own darts using sticks they gathered at the farm and rocks to shape and smooth their sticks. They fashioned fins or "fletchings" out of duct tape to help add stability to their darts. After testing their homemade darts, students were challenged to make improvements to their darts to make them fly better. With determination and persistence, students became quite skilled in using the atlatl.
We also did some more campfire cooking this week by making bread on a stick. This simple bread recipe requires yeast. We discovered that yeast is an edible fungus that feeds on sugars and release gas in the form of carbon dioxide. It is this gas that makes the bread dough rise and gives it that delicious bread flavor.
In the coming weeks, we will be working in Santa's workshop making wooden gifts for our families.
Danish Bonfire Bread Recipe
What you'll need
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 package of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon water
In a small bowl, mix the water, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes and watch the yeast solution begin to bubble. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and oil. Add the yeast solution to the large bowl and mix until a ball of dough begins to form. Knead the dough for several minutes and form it into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Cover the dough to keep it from drying out, and allow it to rise for an hour. Add a little oil to your rolling pin and cutting board, and then roll the dough flat. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into 8-12 strips. Twist the strips of dough around long sticks and cook over a fire until puffy and golden brown. When you remove the bread from your stick, you can fill the hole with butter, cinnamon and sugar, jam, or the filling of your choice. This bread can also be baked in an oven to make homemade dinner rolls or fried in a pan like donuts. You can even wrap it around hot dogs before roasting them over a fire!
Quarter 2: Week 1
Quarter 2 is off to a adventurous start! What began as a week of fishing in and around the Black River State Forest became a lesson in how water can shape the landscape. Unfortunately, the fish were not biting, but that did not stop us from exploring the upper Black River and learning about its history. We viewed the roaring rapids and giant boulders below the Hatfield Dam at Lake Arbutus. What a difference from the calm backwaters of the lower Black River that we have come to know at Seven Bridges! We also explored Oxbow Pond, which was formed when Morrison Creek abandoned its long, winding path and created a shorter, more direct channel to the Black River. We learned about tributaries and discovered that some of the water flowing past the pond, and even the creek at the farm, will eventually make its way to the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean.
Quarter 1 Activities
The workshop at the farm has been a very busy place the past few weeks. The Adventurers practiced using a hammer and nails to make their own string art. They also learned how to use a handsaw as they measured and cut wood to make bird feeders for the farm. The Explorers and Pathfinders worked together in their respective groups to make several bluebird houses for the farm. This project involved all sorts of tools, including a handsaw and a drill. Each student also wood burned a sign with the name of specific tree that grows at the farm to help others identify different tree species. The Expeditioners have been busy building a large wooden platform in a shed where firewood will be stored. They also built a small wood box to keep firewood dry by the campfire ring. This week we will review all of the outdoor skills we have practiced throughout Quarter 1 by going on a scavenger hunt throughout the farm, solving riddles and completing group challenges along the way.
The rainy weather did not ruin our fun at the farm this week. In anticipation for next week's campout, groups practiced setting up tents and cots. Some students practiced using handsaws and hammers as they began their birdhouse project. We even set up an aquarium for tadpoles and other water critters that were at risk of freezing in our little outdoor fountain by the barn. We can't wait to watch the tadpoles grow and change into frogs! As we welcomed the first snowflakes of the season on Thursday, the Adventurers made apple pie pudgy pies over a campfire and warmed up to hot chocolate. The Expeditioners ended the week with a fishing trip on the La Crosse River. They are learning how to filet and cook fish over a fire. This group is also learning how to split firewood and will work together to build a woodshed at the farm next week.
During Week 5, we learned how to identify some common forest birds by sight and by sound, especially the alarming call of the blue jays that are everywhere at the farm. We also met some farm birds when we learned how to care for chickens. We discovered that a rooster and hen can communicate with one another by making all sorts of strange sounds, and that a rooster will crow anytime, not just at dawn. We will continue to learn about birds in the coming weeks as we begin building birdhouses and bird feeders in the workshop. We have also been practicing our fire building skills using flint and steel and cooking pudgy pies over a campfire in preparation for our campout at the farm.
We have been enjoying the change in seasons at the farm. As the leaves change colors and the air becomes cooler, we have been observing the change in animal behaviors, too.
During Week 4, we learned about mammals and noticed that the squirrels have been busy storing acorns for the winter. We compared different mammal furs and bones, observed deer and other mammals on the trail cameras, and practiced respect when we met a pet rabbit.