Experiential Learning – Lower School

Grades 1–2 Fall Outdoor Education Trip

Tomten Farm

Students dig up potatoes with Miss Lacey.

Sonja in the grow dome.

Considering the added difficulty of growing crops in the mountains, the farm also captures rain and uses the water for irrigating the crops and thermoregulation in the green houses. The founder and operator of the farm, Kris Holstrom, is a wealth of knowledge regarding sustainable farming, local environments, and anything else the children asked.

The class was divided up into three groups for touring the farm with Kris and the hard-working
interns as their guides. The interns, Clayton, Carrel, Jordan and Maya, come to the farm from all over the country to work and learn about sustainable farming. The interns live in the two yurts located on the farm and some stay through the bitter winter. For our trip, each student group consisted of five to six children, allowing for more direct questions and in-depth discussions. The groups took two tours in the morning and their final tour in the afternoon after a group lunch on the porch of the house.

Kris takes the students on an edible tour of the greenhouse.One group began to work in the garden harvesting a variety of produce including different types of potatoes, radishes, beets, and garlic. While Carrel and Clayton explained the compost system that the farm uses, the kids discovered a large root of horseradish. Using a shovel, Carrel dug up the horseradish and gave everyone a taste of the spicy plant. The children also harvested a large cabbage, which Kris kindly used to make delicious coleslaw for everyone to share later for lunch. Another group was given a full tour of the farm with Kris. At the chicken coop, she taught us how to calm a chicken by holding it upside down. She was generous with her time and efforts and allowed each child to take home as much mint, oregano, and rosemary as they wished. Kris also shared the history of the two greenhouses on the farm. In the dome greenhouse, the edge is lined with an artistic clay bed a former intern designed and built that holds in the soil. In the other greenhouse, Kris showed us the new mushroom room that they had recently built.

Maya and Jordan gave an informative tour in cultivating oyster mushrooms. The children grabbed a hand full of straw out a large pile and spread the mycelium, the vegetative growth of the fungus, throughout the straw. They placed their produce in plastic bags and poked a variety of holes around the bag about an inch apart. As a parting gift, Kris gave each child a purple potato and a bag to take home their mushrooms, acorns and herbs. At the end of the day, one student appropriately summed the experience up by saying: “That was a really hard day but it was also really good!”


3-4 High Camp Header

High Camp Hut: Wilderness Skills and Nature Art

Group shot with Lizard Head in the background.

Group shot with Lizard Head in the background.

This September, twelve students from Telluride Mountain School’s third and fourth grade spent three days at the High Camp Hut. Perched above Lizard Head Pass, the hut offers spectacular views of Sheep Mountain and plenty of space to get to know each other inside, and adventure outdoors. To begin, students hiked the 2.5 miles to the High Camp Hut. Upon arriving to the hut, students quickly settled into its many bedrooms and lofts.

We immediately got to work constructing Andy Goldsworthy inspired art projects using materials native to the area such as rocks, moss, grasses, sticks and leaves. That evening, we had the chance to have a campfire, roast marshmallows and play an exciting game of Pigs in the Pen in the surrounding forest.

Tying grass around sticks during Andy Goldsworthy inspired art project.

The sun was shining on the second day students worked in small groups at various stations participating in activities related to our curriculum. We marked contour lines on rocks using buckets with various levels of water. Students also learned how to use compasses and navigated through a scavenger hunt around the property using various bearings as clues. At a third station, students created Andy Goldsworthy inspired art projects. The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing art projects and admiring each other’s work.

Student cook groups preparing spaghetti.

Student cook groups preparing spaghetti.

Throughout the trip, students worked in cook crews to make all of the food that we ate. On our last morning, everyone pitched in to clean the hut and hike back down to the summit of Lizard Head Pass. Our time at High Camp Hut was a special chance for our class to bond and work on our curriculum in the amazing outdoor classroom that the Telluride has to offer.