Oct 29, 2010 ellen leahy Uncategorized
Who is Elliott? He’s a horse of course!
Meeting ‘Elliott the horse’ was the centerpiece of Tuesday afternoon’s visit to Darby Manor Farm. It’s that handsome horse farm in Shepard Settlement; the one with the long brick wall on the northern side of stump road.
Grace, Lilly, Claire, Mark and Bode have been attending the first five-week-session of Afternoon Adventures “Fall into Nature,” from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Several arrive directly from Kindergarten on the bus, others have already spent the morning attending Skaneateles Nursery School, which also meets in the basement of St. James Church, 98 East Genesee St. The kids gather for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and noon when the program begins. Adventures is a learning extension from Skaneateles Nursery School. The same folks who bring the experiential learning, Big Trucks, to Skaneateles each year.
Janet De Falco, a former Montessori teacher, operates this program with Joy LoPiccolo. The two teach mornings in the Nursery School, but this program allows them to be a little more creative and go more in-depth. The amazing part is that the cost breaks down to $5 an hour. That’s equivalent or better than babysitting rates. The total cost for each adventure session is $150 or $15 for a 3-hour adventure.
“We’re enjoying it as much as the kids,” DeFalco said.
Field trips, too
In the third week of “Fall into Nature,” the class visited Darby Manor Farm to meet Mrs. DeFalco’s daughter Ella’s horse, Elliott, who is a Dutch Warm Blood. He is a very handsome mix of his parents, one chestnut and the other white, making his coat a blend of the two colors. Elliott is one of the bigger horses on the farm, and one of the most well-mannered. The DeFalcos got him when he was three-years-old.
“Elliott is 5 years old, and will continue to grow until he is age 7,” DeFalco said during introductions.
But before the kids ever ventured out to meet Elliott, they were studying all things horses. Different parts of their bodies, such as fetlocks and forelocks. Different gear involved in caring for horses, such as the various brushes, horseshoes and bell boots. And, different properties that make up a well-run horse farm such as bathing stations, bridal trails, pastures with plenty to eat and drink, tack rooms, barns with well-kept stalls.
“Horses can teach us a lot,” DeFalco said. “This (the field trip) is not a sparkly pony ride,” DeFalco said.
One class was devoted to preparing a horse treat similar to a cookie bar that consisted mainly of carrots, apples, and molasses. Before encountering a horse, the kids learned how to present their treats on open hands, so that Elliot, the horse, could pick it up with his soft lips without accidentally nipping a finger.
During the actual field trip, the kids met many horses, learning that horses will remember you more by your smell than your face.
“Blow a little of your breath up their nostrils, so the horse can get used to you,” DeFalco instructed the children.
She also explained that like kids, different horses have different dispositions, some just aren’t as friendly as others, some are more interested in interaction and play.
The kids met many horses at the fence before entering the barn to find Elliot.
“Where’s Elliot?” Bode kept asking.
Elliot truly was the friendliest horse they met. He was very patient when the kids took turns brushing him, and he loved nibbling the treats out of their tiny hands.
After meeting Elliot, the kids washed up and then had a little picnic of their own on a blanket in the grass with little chunks of cheese, pretzels, apples and grapes.
Specific learning, plus
Before “Fall into Nature” is over, the kids will look for signs of animals preparing for winter, press leaves, make apple prints, learn how pumpkins grow, cook and carve pumpkins, paint with their bare feet, study bat houses, study local Indian tribes, make instruments and costumes, scrapbook, make self portraits, practice yoga and more.
Each of the five, five-week-sessions is filled with art, music, dance, reading, cooking, yoga and exploring with a culminating field trip.
“It’s very hands on,” DeFalco said.
The next session is a Travel Adventure: The learning module “Around the World” includes Mexico, Italy, Germany, France and Ireland with a person representing each country visiting the program each week. Specifically, the kids will be exposed to the different languages, and other cultural aspects such as dance, food, customs and clothing.
After this it’s “Beethoven at the Guggenheim,” “Back to the future” and “Spring cleaning & our environment.”