Explorers is our homeschool enrichment program for students aged 7 - 9 years old (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades). It is an all outdoor program that is open to up to 6 students. This program builds off of our Littlest Learners program to develop a more formal academic curriculum in focused subject areas covered within each unit. We believe at this age students are developmentally ready to learn more complex topics and dive deeper into math, science, and literacy. Explorers focuses on developing a well-rounded whole child who has a deep connection with nature as well as being a social and emotionally aware member of our learning community. Literacy, science, and math are also practiced daily and woven between free-play opportunities throughout the day. Our classroom is at Fort Break which is about a 10/15 minute walk into our 25 acre forest from the school yard.
HOW FARMSTEAD EXPLORERS GROW
At the Asheville Farmstead School, we are pioneering a brand new type of education that is inspired by many well-known and successful educational models, including Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and the Cedarsong Way. Playing with peers is one of the best ways for learning to happen and there is still a large portion of the Explorers’ day that is set aside for unstructured free play time with classmates. Throughout the day, Explorers will also practice literacy skills and learn math, science, and social-emotional learning concepts during focused lessons and hands-on activities. We have created our own curriculum that largely builds off of our Littlest Learners program and draws from other curriculums including, Wild Math, Wild Reading, Big Life Journal, Moon Club, and Exploring Nature with Children.
We believe that in order to learn and retain information we need to be in an environment of joy, so we ground our lessons in real-world challenges, experiential education, and our natural forest classroom. Our 25-acre forest and organic farm make fantastic classrooms for our students to observe, experience, question, and learn about the world around them.
As this program is an enrichment program for homeschooled students, at the beginning of each unit we share our unit plans with enrolled families so that they can know what the Farmstead is covering and incorporate and expand on what their student is learning at the Farmstead into their own academic plans if desired.
Days & Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
- Full day run from 10:30 am - 4:30 pm
- There is an option to add two hours of unstructured free play time at the Farmstead from 8:30am-10:30pm Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings for interested families. While we ask Explorer families to make a year-long commitment to the program, the morning play session can be billed at the month's end for the days and time the student attended.
- Full day = $725.00 a month or $6,525.00 annually
- Morning play hours are billed at $10.00/ hour, $20.00/day, or $60.00/week.
Ages: 7 - 9 years old
Snack: Families pack a snack for Farmstead Explorers.
Lunch: Families pack and send Farmstead Explorers with lunch from home.
10:30-11:00 Welcome to Farmstead Explorers! Arrive, sign in, free play, and hike into the classroom
11:00-11:30 Nature connection: sit-spots and journaling/drawing, and SEL
11:30-12:00 Free play
12:00-12:30 Lunch and a podcast
12:30-1:00 Free Play
1:45-2:15 Free Play
2:45-3:15 Snack and free play
3:15-4:00 Literacy, SEL, Nature Notes
4:00-4:30 Hike out and Free play in the school yard
Harvest: Students will understand that humans are connected to all other living things through shared resources.
Animals: Students will explore the characteristics and adaptations of local animals and their effects on our ecosystem.
Physics: Students will understand how to use simple machines to complete tasks.
Space and Earth: Students will observe, describe, and predict some patterns of the movement of objects in the sky and develop an understanding of patterns and variations in local weather.
Spring Growth: Students will explore the concepts of life cycles and genetic inheritance. From seed to plant and egg to animal, we observe firsthand as plants and animals begin their life cycles after winter’s long rest.
“Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities, and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community.” - Center for Place-Based Learning and Community Engagement
Littlest Learners participate in five thematic units throughout the school year. The units follow the seasonal flow of focus and energy throughout a year at the Farmstead. Students learn about what is happening around them in nature in real-time, keeping learning hands-on, personally relevant, and exciting!
Social Emotional (SEL)
Each Explorer student will have their own Big Life Journal that is used weekly as part of this subject. It has daily pages with small, rotating prompts and short writing activities in the journal. Their BLJ complements the SEL activities that we use from other Big Life Journal curriculum packs and we are able to weave lessons of mindfulness, growth mindset, how to be a good contributing community member, and more about our emotions into their days. Moon Club is another great resource we use to explore how science, social-emotional learning, and literacy can all come together for interdisciplinary learning experiences.
While science is woven throughout our subjects and surrounds us daily in our forest classroom, we also dedicate time daily to grow our understanding and knowledge of the science within our themes through hands-on, nature-based activities and lessons. For example, in the Harvest unit, we learn about the science of plant parts, nutrient cycles, scientific identification skills, and cycles in nature. In Physics, students will learn about simple machines, how they work, as well as what problems they help solve.
One thing we love about math is how tangible and experiential this learning can be! WILD Math is our main curriculum guide and incorporates natural materials (often found by the students) as manipulatives. We get into place values, ordering, greater or lesser than, recording and understanding data and measurements, money, geometry, multiplication, and division, as well as regular practice with math basics like addition and subtraction.
Our Explorers program is when we start using the pre-literacy tools that are developed in Littlest Learners and at home and expand those skills into a more formal study of literacy. We work on handwriting, site word recognition, phonetics, spelling, parts of speech, and sentence building by providing repeated and varied opportunities to work and play with words, letters, and sounds. We also develop listening comprehension through teacher-led (and student-led) read-aloud activities and daily podcasts where we practice listening and sharing afterward during class discussions. Our main guide to our literacy curriculum is WILD Reading. Literacy is also incorporated into all other subjects wherever possible to increase exposure and provide as many opportunities to practice our reading and writing skills throughout the day.
Students will explore the concepts of life cycles and genetic inheritance. From seed to plant and egg to animal, we observe first hand as plants and animals begin their life cycles after winter’s long rest. Students plant, care for, and collect data on their own plants, search for eggs in streams and trees, learn to hand-pollinate, and discover how genetic characteristics are passed from parent to offspring.
Cedarsong Way Accredited School
Asheville Farmstead School is proud to be one of four internationally accredited Cedarsong® Way Schools.
The Cedarsong Way is an award-winning leader in the U.S. Forest Kindergarten movement and has received international accolades for its groundbreaking work.Schools that are accredited in The Cedarsong Way have proven to be operating at the same high level of excellence as the original Cedarsong Nature School.
The Cedarsong Way accreditation is your assurance of the best quality outdoor education program. Learn more about The Cedarsong Way and our philosophies.