Week 2 Nuthatch Recap!

Week 2 Nuthatch Recap!

Hello Nuthatch Families!

This past week, the Nuthatches spent a lot of time thinking about changes, in ourselves and in our surroundings… and the change of seasons! We celebrated and welcomed Fall, finding signs of its presence all around us in the changing leaves, the crisp morning air, and in finding our rhythm in our new Ash Grove nest. Here are some highlights so you can connect with all the joy we’re finding in our new forest home together!

During our first full week at preschool, the Nuthatches really settled into our routine and rhythm. We’ve spent time together each day making our new nest – the Ash Grove – our home. We learned how to spot ash trees in our nest by noticing their compound leaves, and opposite branching patterns – like stretching your arms out to both sides! In our opening circle on Tuesday, the official Equinox, we practiced standing on one foot. Then we tried extending our arms on either side, like the ash tree’s branches, and found we were able to balance more easily. We paused to think about how the day and night are the same length now, like two branches level with each other, or a balanced scale. The Nuthatches also celebrated this special time of year by learning a new song and singing it every day this week (there’s the third R: repetition!). Here are the lyrics so you can sing it with your child (there are motions too!):

Turning, turning, the Earth is turning.

Turning always round to morning.

And from morning, round to night.

On our way to Ash Grove one day, we gathered signs of Fall and then placed them in our fire circle (yet to hold fire!). 

The Nuthatches are a busy brood of builders. We’ve made a playground in our Ash Grove! Every day, this playground looks different. Often we find that all we need is a sturdy ash limb (left over from the construction of our lean-to) and we can go on top of, under, over, or even hang from it! One day, an ash limb became a door and we took turns giving clues for fellow Nuthatches to guess passwords like “goldenrod” and “charcoal” and our birth months.

One of the many evolutions of our forest playground! 

On Tuesday, Elisabeth finally revealed what was inside the Mystery Box! A sinking stone, used by Native peoples to fish, and used by Tunbar in the final installment of our first ongoing story. We asked for volunteers to bring our next mystery and were met with enthusiasm; one preschooler kept a secret for two days, giving us hints and fielding our questions about the object. It was bigger than the sinking stone, round but bumpy, different on the outside than on the inside, and it had been cracked open using not one but two hammers. At the end of Thursday, our volunteer opened the box to show us… a geode!

A preschooler holds onto Mira’s arm to take a big jump — and a moment after this picture does it independently!

The Nuthatches played games this week to learn each other’s names and to get to know each other. One the preschoolers asked for again and again was Seasons Are Changing, a rendition of a Primitive Pursuits favorite, Forest Fire, which Mira adapted for our themes this week. We started our “project time” – the South part of the day in the 8 Shields model – with a conversation about animals and how they change throughout their life cycles and adapt to the changing seasons. Shedding fur/scales/skin! Growing bigger and more independent! Hibernation! Migration! Caching! Then we invited everyone to choose an animal but keep it to themselves until the end of the game, like their own little Mystery. For the first round, Mira started off in the middle of a field, playing the role of The Seasons. Preschoolers then ran from one side to the other when Mira called out an attribute or behavior of their animal, dodging bandana balls – or “banana balls” as we accidentally, and now jokingly, call them – on the way. Upon getting tagged, preschoolers became “Seasons” too and collectively came up with more traits to call out: “If your animal _________”… And when nobody ran, we shouted “Seasons are changing!” signaling all the animals to run to the other side, because seasonal changes affect every living being. 

The Seasons huddle while the animals wait to hear if they need to run. 

Last but not least, the Nuthatches took our first adventure far from the nest on Wednesday. We gathered colorful leaves that called out to us as we walked to the camp up the hill from the Chickadee nest. We then practiced “fox walking” down the path into Trillium Camp, which we had heard would be empty when we got there. Still, we wanted to be as quiet and mysterious as we could while sneaking in, placing the basket in the Chickadees’ fire circle, and going right back out the way we came. Despite the excitement of this task, we stayed quiet until we were all the way up the hill again! When we got back to our camp, we found a basket of beautiful leaves in our fire circle… how did it get there, we asked? One preschooler thought the Chickadees may have read our minds (we’ve been having a lot of “mindreading” moments lately). Another preschooler suggested that a snake ate the basket, carried it in her stomach to Ash Grove, and then pooped it out for us to find. One of the numerous mysteries this week, and there are many more to come!

Equinox wishes for balance and welcoming changes,

Elisabeth and Mira 

Week 2 Chickadee Recap!

Week 2 Chickadee Recap!

Hi Chickadee Banditry!

The forest is constantly changing around us and we feel so grateful to have the opportunity to observe these changes with your children, who see so much! They’ve noticed the abundance of leaves on the ground in Trillium Camp, they’ve spotted some leaves starting to change color and they’ve been taking time to stop and pick up rocks to see what might be hiding underneath. This time of year, the harvest season, can be so busy but your children remind us to slow down, look at the world with wonder and walk with curiosity.

The Chickadees on a wander in the Meadow in search of colorful leaves.

This week we welcomed Fall and all of the colors, smells and gifts it brings! Maddy wrote and taught us this Equinox Song, which you can listen to by clicking on the link below. And here are the lyrics so you can sing along too!

Equinox Song

by Maddy

 The seasons are changing, I feel it every day 

Leaves have been falling every which way

I think it must be close to a very special day

The days are getting shorter

The nights are getting longer

We’re now in the third quarter of what we call a year

Let’s celebrate together, the Equinox is here

We have been finding toads everywhere! The children have been practicing gentle ways to hold and care for them.

We not only celebrated the Equinox but also two Chickadee birthdays! Together we sang, ate some delicious cupcakes, and honored these two children as they entered a new year of life. And as we entered into a new season, we celebrated all of the changes and signs of Fall around us. The children noticed, while stopped at the top of the bridge leading to Trillium Camp (one of our core routines), there were colorful leaves covering the Earth in our camp — red ones, yellow, orange, leaves that were half green half yellow. Together we filled a basket with the most lovely leaves we could find and decided to gift these colorful treasures to the Nuthatches! We walked quickly and quietly to the Ash Grove, hoping they were away from their camp so we could leave the basket there without them seeing us. The Ash Grove was empty of Nuthatches! The children picked a spot for the basket and helped Maddy make an arrow pointing to the gift. The Chickadees flew back to their nest just as the Nuthatches were beginning to return to theirs! Once we were back in Trillium Camp, the children noticed something strange — a basket sitting in the fire circle! We went to investigate and found the basket filled with colorful leaves — a gift from our friends the Nuthatches! 

The Chickadees gifting a basket of leaves for the Nuthatches.

Leaves aren’t the only thing falling from the trees this time of year. Several Chickadees have found these strange circular “eggs” underneath our red oak tree! One of these “eggs” even made its way into our mystery bag, which was passed around in Opening Circle. Each child had a turn to feel the object, describe it and give their best guess as to what it could be. After a big drum roll, the mystery was revealed — an oak gall! We learned that oak galls are formed when a wasp lays eggs in the tree’s leaf buds. Over time the gall gets bigger, forming a protective shield around the growing wasp larva. When it’s ready, the wasp breaks through the gall and goes out into the world. How amazing is that?!

A rock covered in fossils! With the creekbed dry, the children have found lots of amazing rocks.

Who knew that a banditry of chickadees would love a game called Chickadee Tag! This week the children learned that chickadees (and nuthatches!) cache, or store, their food. To play Chickadee Tag, someone hides several bandana balls that represent seeds, berries, insects, and other things chickadees like to eat. Once all the food is hidden the chickadees have to fly from their nest in search of the food and bring it back without getting caught by the hawk. To keep the hawk away and to warn other chickadees about the predator, they must give a loud alarm call (“chickadee-dee-dee!”).

Maddy, Hannah and Sarah have begun introducing the Chickadees to the Peace Super Heroes — a group of five animals who each have a special gift, or superpower, that allows them to help other animals with their problems. This week the children met Fine Words Fox, who is good at using fine words like “please,” “thank you,” “I care about you.” They also learned about Feel Better Butterfly, who helps others feel better when they’re feeling sad or angry. And Shadowtail, a grey squirrel, whose kindness and support helps Fine Words Fox and Feel Better Butterfly travel through the forest. Next week we will get to meet the rest of the Peace Super Heroes!

Until then!

Falling leaves and joyful spirits,

Sarah, Maddy & Hannah 

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.