By Valerie Baldowski
Paulette Brown guided her 19 young students from one attraction to the next at Stockbridge's Yule Forest.
The group of 4- and 5-year-olds, from M & S Magical Stars Daycare and Learning Center Inc., in Ellenwood, "oohed" and "ahhed" at the cow-milking display, the reptile room, and the talking-chicken display.
The youngsters squealed with delight, going though the fun house and the maze, and they eagerly inspected a pumpkin they found on the tour of the two-acre pumpkin patch.
Visiting the pumpkin-patch facility, located at 3565 Highway 155 North, provided the children with an opportunity to see for themselves what they have been taught in school.
The youngsters' tour also included agricultural displays, as part of an autumn educational learning experience, said owner Susie Grant.
Paulette Brown said she takes her students to Yule Forest every year, "for a learning experience about farm animals, how pumpkins grow, and about trees and recycling.
"It gives them a visual on how the pumpkins are actually started, how they're planted," said Brown. "It gives them an actual visual on different types of farm animals, where they live, their environment, and it gives them a visual on different trees, and how trees are grown."
She said the best part of the field trip for her students is being able to take home a pumpkin.
Elsewhere on the Yule Forest property, teacher Karla Lawrence, and students from Harper Elementary School in Riverdale, were visiting the Pioneer Rabbit Village. Their attention was fixed on a display of "gold" from the Dahlonega mountains, however.
"This is called community-based instruction," Lawrence said. "We have a group of eight autistic boys, and so, we take them out every week to different places to teach them about the world we live in. So, today we're doing the pumpkin patch."
The youths were learning about Georgia's natural resources, animals, and plants, she said.
"It's good, because the boys can touch, they're more visual learners. They can touch it, and they can see it, they might remember it," added Lawrence.
The farm opened to the public on Oct 2. "We start setting up in August, right after we get finished with the blueberries. It takes us about two months to get everything set up," said Grant.
The annual pumpkin patch began19 years ago, she said, but recently, there have been some new additions to the displays and the characters.
"This year, I added the Pioneer Rabbit Village, we added the farmer, and the life of the farmer, and we talk about different things that we grow on the farm," Grant continued. The displays are fun, as well as educational, she said.
"They love the fun zone, they love going out to the pumpkin patch, and they like just being on a farm. I'd say, we're all about education," added Grant.
For more information on the tours, call (770) 954-9356.