Outdoor Play & Imagination  Stories & Games Arts & Crafts

Farm Animals & Gardens   Science & Nature  Cooking Fun



Our After School Care Program 

The after school care program at Little Garden Patch Farm is ideal for those famlies in search of a more nurturing and joyful after school experience that supports healthy "whole child" development in a safe homelike setting.   Our lower teacher-to-child ratio means that we can provide each child with the  attention, enouragement, and guidance that he or she needs to thrive physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.  

Children at Little Garden Patch Farm also experience a fun, engaging, and enriching program that includes: 

healthy outdoor play and movement,
hands-on science and nature learning, including farm animal encounters and gardening
 child-led imagination and pretend
social learning, including setting healthy boundaries, sharing, and respecting self and others
and of course, creativity and self-expression through arts and crafts and storytelling.

    Plus our popular afternoon snack and story time introduces children to delightful characters, fascinating facts, and new understandings of ourselves and the people and creatures that share our world.  

Learning about and caring for our farm animal friends 

What does Little Garden Patch Farm NOT offer?  Once children are here at the farm there is no "screen time" of any kind.  This means no TV or videos, no hand held gaming devices or video games, no Ipad time, or computer access.   Please be sure your child leaves these items at home.

Our only "screen time" is during after school pick up.  Because younger children must  wait in the car while we finish our pick-up route we do provide a movie in the shuttle van.  Children in first grade and up may watch the "in flight movies" Mondays through Friday and kindergarteners may watch a featured children's film on Fridays and other minimum days. All movies are carefully selected for age appropriate content.


  For Fall 2024 please contact us to enquire about current openings.  

Please keep in mind that our capacity is capped at 14 by state childcare licensing.  If we do not have openings at this time, we are happy to take your information for our wait list.

We offer older TK and  kindergarten pick up at at either Soquel Emementary or Main Street Elementary.  No other pick-up times or locations are available.


More About After School Pick-Up:

We currently offer after school pick-up and transportation exclusively at Main Street Elementary and at Soquel Elementary. We are not able to offer any other after school pick-up and transportation options at this time.

If your child attends a different school and you are able to arrange your own transportation to Little Garden Patch during our normal business hours, then we would be happy to talk to you about arranging a pre-registration visit for you and your child. 

Please keep in mind however that we follow -- and will always follow -- the Soquel Elementary School District schedule.  Please check this against your school's own calendar to see if there will be conflicting dates for minimum days, teacher in-service days, and holiday breaks and inform our staff accordingly.  

Please inform LGPF staff at least two weeks in advance if your child will be absent due to an inter-district calendar conflict in order to avoid billing for days that your child will not attend due to alternate vacation days.  Please note that in most cases, LGPF cannot accomodate requests for full-day care or early drop off (i.e. before 1 pm M-TH or 12:30 pm on Fridays) when your child's school vacation, minimum day, or teacher in-service day schedule conflicts with the Soquel School District schedules.  We appreciate your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience.

Our Outdoor "Classroom":

 Little Garden Patch is primarily an outdoor program with a rich and varied outdoor classroom.  When you come for your visit here is what you will find... 

Just inside the entry gate parents will find our sign in area and our individual cubbies where children may store their coats and back-packs and other gear -- as well as finished projects to go home.  Spare clothes are kept here, as well as some of the arts & crafts projects that are in progress.

Some of our farm animals can be viewed from here too.  Say hello to our pot belly pigs, our goats, and our "big pony" Mia.  She is too large to let the children into her pen, but she loves to greet them affectionately over the barn door.


Once past the front yard and entry area, children will find our outdoor picnic area. Our picnic area includes shade cloth coverage for hot days, seating for 14 children, a big trash can of course, and a host of small two legged "composters" -- also known as ducks and chickens -- who love to wait for leftovers!  There is a stage and a puppet theater as well as a chair for teachers to read to the children while they eat.


Close by is our little "reading room" which hosts  a large selection of books and hands-on displays on a frequently lchanging variety of kid friendly topics from Bird Facts to Fall Changes to Butterflies or Frogs, the Science of Rot, Seed Growth, and even the Winter Olympics.   Also in this space is a small but popular fairy garden where children can often be found arranging and rearranging the fairy garden decor and acting out the days dramatic adventures.

Next down the path is the sand table and the tree fort.   A comfy hammock chair and some benches offer rest to the weary and provide cozy places to nestle with a book, a friend, or a water bottle.  There is also a little nook with toy tables which host toy barns, a dollhouse and a variety of plastic toy animals and dolls.  A large toy box/bench holds more items for use here and in the sandbox.


Children will find lots to do further down the path in the outdoor art studio.  Here covered tables, activity cards, and shelves full of supplies offer endless creative investigation.  Whether your child would like to participate in the featured craft, make something all their own, or just sit and draw they are sure to enjoy  this imaginative space.  This area also hosts painting easels for creating large masterpieces on paper in washable paint.


Turning the corner here, we pass a small green house, and the entrance to our child-friendly raised bed vegetable garden and approach the water table and the seed planting table, .

Keep going!  We're not done yet.  Next comes the rope swing, the trampoline, one of our outdoor hand-washing stations,  the swingset and slide, a big hammock, the LGPF outdoor play kitchen,and the corral for the mini ponies, Pearl and Cookie.  The children love to brush them and feed them carrots from the garden.  Right between the play kitchen and the corral is a covered swing glider where children love to rest together, giggle, and share their dreams and secrets.  A doll cradle and sturdy baby dolls provides more prompts for imaginative play.

Add to all this our planting projects, garden watering, watching the ducks and chickens play, visits with the other animals, all of our outdoor toys (fairies, toy farm animals, dinosaurs, sand toys, board games, etc.) and of course our monthly theme-related activities and children have no shortage of things to do when we are outside!



But what about when it rains heavily or turns extra cold?  

No problem!  Come on in and take a look at the playroom!   When we need an indoor place to warm up (or escape a heat wave) or just switch gears, we can head inside for some time with the toys and other activities in the playroom.  (Masks may be required depending on current recommendations from local, state, and federal health agencies.)

However, please understand that in order to support the  children in developing an affinity for nature and the outdoors we will be outside most of the time.  This means that we do not head inside every time we feel a sprinkle or it's time to zip on a jacket!   Our philosophy is that if children in other climes can play outdoors in winter in freezing temperatures, we Santa Cruzans can surely play outside when it dips below 60 degrees  -- and we can certainly manage a few Spring showers as well.  In fact, most of the children find it exciting!

Click for an expanded view!
The first thing you'll notice is that we have lots of different little nooks and interest areas.  There's a table just for the youngest children to color or draw quietly.

 There are also spaces for dollhouses and related toys, a couch for cuddling up with a friend or a good book, and a central table for games and teacher-led craft projects.
Click for an expanded view!  
At the back of the room is another table for fuse beads and other quiet crafts or drawing.    A glance out the windows lets us know if it's good weather to run back outside!  We can also watch the birds coming to our sheltered bird feeders just outside the windows.
Click for an expanded view! 
In this back corner of the room we have the Play Table with lots and LOTS of LEGO bricks for building.  We also have plenty of toy cars, action figures, magna tiles, wooden blocks, and other fun things to keep us busy. 
Our playroom also has tons of stuffed animals, and dress up clothes,  and plenty of books for children aged 5-9. 


What about homework?

Little Garden Patch teachers routinely sets aside homework time for kindergarten children as many of them are too fatigued by evening to successfully complete their assignments at home.   Homework time is typically around 1:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and (for those with uncompleted work) Thursdays.  (On Wednesdays we may have special project time instead.)

Older children typically prefer to use their time at Little Garden Patch for play and project time as their hours here are much more limited due to their later arrival time.

However, if you would prefer that your older child use their time at LGPF for homework we are happy to work with you to set  up a Homework Agreement with you and your child that will help them meet these expectations. 

But please understand that for children in grades 1 and up, we are not able to provide one-on-one homework supervsion due to the staff's need to assist with and supervise group play and learning activities. 



Cost & Program Options

  Little Garden Patch Farm offers Full Time and Part Time options.

Full time contracted care is $7/hour with free afterschool pick-up included when attendance is for a minimum of 4 hours for kinders or 3 hours for grades 1-5 on regular school days and 5 hours on early release school days.   Parents pay  monthly in advance of care.  An invoice will be provided at or prior to the start of each month.  (Payment is considered late if made later than the 7th of the month.)

Ongoing part Time care is $9/hour with free pick-up with the same requirement for minimum hours  (otherwise there is a $10 transportation charge for each pick up).  Registration for part time care is subject to availability, with priority for registration given to full time care participants.


Forms & Enrollment

    Prior to enrollment all families are asked to schedule a visit for a brief tour.  This provides children the opportunity to meet the animals and teachers and try on LIttle Garden Patch to see if it feels like the right place for him or her.   It also gives us a chance to discuss our policies and answer questions as we discuss whether our program is a good fit for your child's needs.  And most importantly, it give parents (and teachers) the chance to assess their child's risk managment skills within the environment to be sure they will be safe with the tree fort, rope swing, trampline, glue guns, and farm animals.

 Because ours is  a small family-run program, and because Little Garden Patch is a community and a second home to the children enrolled here, we give careful consideration to whether we can meet the needs of new families who wish to attend.  One tool to help us determine if LGPF is a good fit for your family is our Behavior Agreement.  Please be sure to look this form over carefully and discuss it with your child so that they know what is expected of them -- and what they have the right to expect of others.   Healthy limit setting and good manners is an important part of any thriving social community and we appreciate the important role that parents play in supporting our community at LGPF in this regard.  Thank you!

You will also receive an Emergency ID form and a Parent's Rights form.  And for families in contracted care, you will receive a copy of our written agreement/contract to review and sign.  When you contact us we will email you a sample copy of the Contract For Care to look over in advance of your visit.

Please note that ALL forms must be submitted before the first day of attendance.  This is a requirement set by state licensing.

Please email us if you have any questions or would like to schedule your pre-registration visit.





Contact us for more information!


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