Hiding Fishers

Hiding Fishers

Ithaca Forest Preschool

“The Hemlock Grove, the Hemlock Grove, where the trees stay green all through the winter. The swamp will freeze and we’ll find the fisher, climbing over fallen trees,” the preschoolers sang before hiking out to the Hemlocks. There they played on the dragon shelter, slid around on some ice and followed fisher tracks (seen above)! Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

A child playing on the dragon shelter. This structure was created after a hemlock tree had fallen and with it, uprooted some of the surrounding earth. During summer camp, children noticed that it looked like the mouth of a dragon and added a body, tail and even teeth! The preschoolers liked climbing on and through the dragon. Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

A treasure map drawn by one of the preschoolers. Here the child is pointing to where the treasure is located. Several children joined in the search for the lost treasure that took them up the Climbing Hill, to the tipi, down to the Horsey Log and finished at Trillium North.

Preschoolers following the treasure map. Their journey also led them to the “spider stump,” where they stopped to play before moving on.

Once in Trillium North, the children noticed that one of their favorite trees had a broken branch. When discussing what they could do to help it, the group decided to take some charcoal from the fire and place it at the tree’s roots.

“There’s a bug up here,” a child exclaimed while sitting in a musclewood tree (Carpinus caroliniana) in Trillium North.

Children making cupcake batter on a muddy day. They added water from the creek, moss and white pine needles. Photo taken by Melissa Blake.

“Hello tree! We love you,” a preschooler said while walking up the path at the end of the day.

A young fisher cat in a tree. The preschoolers learned that fishers can rotate their paws 180 degrees so they can climb down trees headfirst!

Dancing Porcupines

Dancing Porcupines

Forest Preschool braved some seriously chilly weather last week! They gathered close on Tuesday to see what Sarah had hidden in her hands. She said that the object she was holding was very sharp, mostly white but black on the tip and that belonged to an animal that had these covering most of its body. The children called out a few guesses and Sarah opened her hands- it was a porcupine quill! With the instructors’ help, the children carefully passed the quill around the circle, noticing its sharpness and color. Afterwards, they followed Jesse to their backpacks, walking all the way like porcupines.

Once in Trillium Camp, the children were excited to see that the creek was frozen! Maggie checked to make sure it was safe and then the preschoolers ventured out onto the ice. In no time, they were boot-skating, spinning and sliding on their bellies. A few children noticed some cool ice formations and spent some time observing them and guessing how they came to be (seen above). They also enjoyed breaking up the ice with sticks and seeing how big of a piece they could carry.

During snack, Maggie told a story of a dancing porcupine. Her story involved some amazing acrobatics, which can be seen above. The children were so engaged by the story that they had to be reminded to eat their snack!

Maggie dancing like the porcupine from her story.

After they filled up their bellies with food, the Forest Preschool crew went up the hill on a porcupine adventure! The preschoolers led the instructors up the secret staircase, which was even more hidden than usual as it was covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. When they reached the top, the young porcupines played in the Meadow. They climbed on the fallen quaking aspen, danced in the tipi and explored the woods near Turkey Knoll.

The preschoolers noticed these small tracks on the pavilion in Trillium Camp. They counted the toes, noticed their shape and observed how tiny they were. Do you know what animal they belong to?

Before lunch, Jesse decided to make a fire using a hand drill. The children eagerly watched as he worked hard to spin the drill between his hands until…

He got a coal! Jesse carefully moved the delicate ember into the pile of beech leaves, dried goldenrod and other natural materials to help bring it to life.

At lunch, the children enjoyed warming their hands and roasting food over the fire. When the day had come to an end, they joined together to sing and dance like porcupines!

On Wednesday, Forest Preschool began their day inside and with only one preschooler! With Zak and Sarah, this child colored in river otter tracks (seen above), built with blocks, made a porcupine den and then bundled up in lots of layers to brave the wintry weather outside. Together they explored the frozen creek and made a bridge out of ice! When playing near the Pole Barn, the child noticed some tracks. After looking more closing at its shape, gait pattern and some nearby scat, they determined they belonged to a rabbit! As Zak and Sarah were looking more closely at the tracks, the preschooler noticed a rabbit hiding under some bleachers. They fox-walked their way towards it until it hopped away. On their way back inside, they also noticed that the Forest Preschool shelter near the white pine had lost all of its needles! Upon closer inspection, the small group saw deer tracks coming from all directions to the tree and even found some hair on the now bare branches of the shelter.

Office Location:
Cornell Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave., Ithaca, NY 14850
607-272-2292 | email Us

Preschool Location:
4-H Acres, 418 Lower Creek Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

Ithaca Forest Preschool is a nature immersion program for children ages 3-5. Our program is run in cooperation with Primitive Pursuits, a project of Cornell Cooperative Extension.