12 Aug Our Recent Children’s Program, Giddy Up & Grow
This summer, ifarm collaborated with Windrush Farm, a therapeutic riding and horsemanship center on the Boxford/North Andover town line, to host a children’s program called Giddy Up & Grow. The program works with schools and other organizations to provide exciting experiences with horses, gardens, and nature while teaching classroom skills like reading and writing. Some of the schools that have been part of the program in the past are St. Ann’s Home and School, Lahey Behavioral health, and Esperanza academy.
Play as Education
Twice a week, children (age 10-14) would arrive at ifarm with volunteers and staff from Windrush Farm. Each day included time to play games, to greet our animals, and to explore the gardens. Our Education Coordinator, Claire Hopkins, introduced each group to the wild amphibians and insects around the farm, as well as teaching them the ways that food is grown in the garden. The children were interested in learning how food is grown…but far more excited to pick and eat whatever was in season.
The most popular attractions (by far) were the animals, especially the sheep. Our fluffy little Shetlands were instantly famous with each group. It worked out well for both species: The children had a great time touching their wool and learning about sheep, while the flock was socialized to feel safer with humans of all sizes. The sheep were not rolling over like puppies by the end of July, but they were far more comfortable with large groups of people.
The changes we saw in the kids were exciting. The biggest changes were the simplest. They looked happy to be outside, seeing new things, meeting new animals, and playing games. A few of our words might have left impressions, but we know it is the experience of touching a frog or smelling lavender in the garden that is the real education. We are happy to let nature speak directly and inspire new learning.
Giddyup and Grow is just the beginning: we are developing a full range of educational programs for children and adults year round. Our next children’s program will be this September, Sheep, Frogs, Flowers and Fun, open to children aged 4-5. For four weeks we will explore all that ifarm has to offer through games and educational themes such as bird calls or wildlife.