Week 1 Chickadees: Hello Spring!

Week 1 Chickadees: Hello Spring!

This week we welcomed spring, warmer weather and new and returning Chickadees! 

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MONDAY

The Chickadees were greeted by a warm and blue-skied morning on their first day of the spring session! During arrival, they ran in the front field, found deer scat here and there and noted how they were wearing fewer layers, all while finding the muddiest puddles to play in. They gathered in the log circle and welcomed a new chickadee to their flock and sang the “Welcome Song” to learn everyone’s names.

Welcome everybody, we’re so glad to see you 

Welcome everybody, we’re so thankful for you 

After singing the part above once, the Chickadees replaced the word “everybody” with each child’s name. They made music by clapping their hands, stomping their feet and tapping sticks against the log while waiting for it to be their turn to add their name into the song. Afterwards it was time to get their backpacks on and wait at the top of the trail leading to Trillium Camp. Let’s count to see how many Chickadees we have today! They counted together “1, 2, 3, 4, 5…10!”

The flock flew down the path and stopped at the trail cam, anxious to see what it had captured over the weekend. We scrolled through the photos but didn’t see any new ones of the groundhog or other animals that may have walked by. We’ll have to check again next time! The Chickadees stopped at the top of the bridge and instead of being asked “what’s changed?,” which they had been asked all Fall and Winter, they were asked “what’s growing?” Some children noticed tiny tree buds while others spotted bright, green moss. They also noticed something peculiar “growing” on top of the woodbox.

The children walked down the bridge, hung up their backpacks and went to investigate the strange white paper that was laying on top of the woodbox. Sarah joined them and explained that this was the “Daily Check.” The Daily Check includes 6 categories — the date, the temperature, a rain gauge measurement, creek depth, what the sky looks like and sightings. Sarah explained that several children would be picked each day to complete different parts of the Daily Check, but for the first day they’d do it all together. In the temperature square, they colored in light blue to represent “cold.” Next, they had to find a place to put the rain gauge and settled on a flat spot behind the Peace Log. Let’s go check the creek! The children walked to the edge of the creek and watched as Sarah showed them the large rock they’d placed their measuring stick next to each day. The creek was at “yellow.” Then they needed to record what the sky looked like. They all looked up and yelled “blue!” Last but not least was “sightings” and the children decided to draw something bright green they had noticed while stopped at the top of the bridge earlier — moss!

It’s slunch time, it’s slunch time 

It’s time to eat our slunch 

It’s slunch time, it’s slunch time 

It’s time to munch and slunch! 

The children washed their hands and sat in the log circle with their food and water. In order to “unlock” the day’s story, the children had to do a “tick scan.” The instructors role-modeled looking overtop their clothes and feeling in their hair for ticks. Some of the children shared stories of times they had found ticks on them and the instructors explained that if ticks bite us they can sometimes make us sick, so it’s important to look for them. They did a great job unlocking the story and spent slunch listening about the time the Peace Superheroes (Fine Words Fox, Peaceful Porcupine, Feel Better Butterfly, Unity Unicorn and Shadowtail) found mysterious pieces of birch bark in their home in the forest, all with the letter “r” written on them. Together the Peace Superheroes learned from a helpful chickadee that the r’s stand for the special “three r’s of the forest” — Respect yourself, Respect each other and Respect the Earth.

After packing up their food and backpacks, the Chickadees split up into a wandering group and a creek-splashing group. They gathered together for the end of the day which was marked by singing “The Day is Done Song.”

The day is done, the day is done 

Thank you for the day 

Let’s pack our bags 

And give air hugs 

And say thanks for the day 

All the pots, pans and buckets were put away while some children used brooms to sweep the pavilion. When it was time for closing circle, they met in the log circle in Trillium Camp and learned a new song called “The Kindness and Respects Song” that talked about the “three r’s” from the story they heard at slunch.

We show kindness to ourselves 

We show kindness to each other 

We show kindness to the Earth here at school 

(Repeat twice) 

We show respect to ourselves 

We show respect to each other 

We show respect to the Earth here at school 

(Repeat twice) 

They each played instruments while singing along and put them away when it was time for gratitude. Each child was asked to share (if they wanted to) something from the day they were grateful for. After each person had the opportunity to share, the children yelled “spring!” The children were grateful for all kinds of things — playing in the creek, the sun, playing with family members and food. The Chickadees put on their backpacks and flew together from Trillium Camp to the front field to end a great beginning to the start of spring!

TUESDAY

During arrival, the Chickadees had the options of playing Foxtail — a fun game where one person tucks a orange bandana in their pocket and runs around while the others try to grab it — and coloring a picture of chipmunks waking up from their long winter’s rest and decorating with animal track stamps. The Foxtail players ran into the log circle and called “All-In” to let the others know it was time for them to come to opening circle. The Chickadees flew to the circle, had a seat and sang “The Welcome Song” from the day before and welcomed back a Chickadee who had been with us in the Fall!

Down to camp they went after stopping at the trail cam (still no new photos) and at the top of the bridge (more green moss). They completed the Daily Check while others checked the sap bucket and saw that it was close to overflowing! The rest of the Chickadees played on the climbing hill, by the creek and on the horsey log.

Time for slunch! The children washed their hands, grabbed their backpacks and did a tick scan all before listening to Nora’s magical tale about Sylvia the Spring Fairy and her friend Jewelweed, who we’ll see growing by the creek soon!

The Chickadees enjoyed another warm day and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the creek and making “magic potions” and “soup.”

 

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WEDNESDAY

Wednesday sure was a rainy day! The Chickadees arrived in rain gear, ready to jump in every puddle they could find — which they did! There were puddles here and puddles there and mud, lots of mud. The children played in puddles and made mud balls while waiting for everyone to arrive. In opening circle, the Chickadees continued to practice learning everyone’s names but this time they also got to share their favorite animal! After each person said their name and favorite animal, the children moved like that animal. So if someone said “cheetah” then everyone ran fast like a cheetah. The Chickadees had fun doing this and the instructors enjoyed hearing what animals they like!

During Wednesday’s Daily Check, the Chickadees noticed that the creek was deeper — it had moved from yellow to blue! Even though it was raining, the rain gauge had very little water. They made predictions about how much water would be in the rain gauge the next day. The flock spent their rainy day listening to a story about Peaceful Porcupine and enjoying all the wonderful things that rainy days bring: mud, puddles and worms!

THURSDAY

The sky cleared and the sun came out for a gorgeous and warm Thursday at Ithaca Forest Preschool! During arrival, the children met Barbara Ann, a Primitive Pursuits instructor who was spending the day with the Chickadees. She brought supplies to make face paint: charcoal and rock paint and willow branches for paintbrushes. Together Barbara Ann and the children painted their faces to look like different animals and also drew designs on their hands.

All-In to the log circle! In Opening Circle, Barbara Ann asked the children to share their names and move their bodies to show how they were feeling and to then move their bodies for how they wanted to feel. The Chickadees jumped, spun and stomped their feet — it was lots of fun! Once in Trillium Camp, the children did some more face painting, the Daily Check (we had 0.2 inches in the rain gauge!) and took a peek in the sap bucket (today it was empty!).When it was time for slunch and the flock was doing their tick scan, Barbara Ann found a small tick on her shirt! She walked around the circle to show the children what they’re looking for when we do tick scans. Afterwards the Chickadees played a game where they each had to think of an animal but keep it a secret. An instructor then said something about different kinds of animals (if your animal can swim, for example). If what was said was true about the animal they picked, then they took a sip of water. At the end, the children excitedly shared their animals: cheetahs, cats, kangaroos! 

After everyone had packed up, the Chickadees worked together to carry buckets over to the creek, which they filled with water and then carried over to the pavilion. On the count of three, the children poured the water over the pavilion and used brooms and brushes to help scrub away all of the dirt and mud — spring cleaning in Trillium Camp! The instructors are so thankful for all of the help — thank you Chickadees!

 

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Thank you for reading our first blog of the spring! See you back here next week!

Week 1 Nuthatches: Warm Welcomes

Week 1 Nuthatches: Warm Welcomes

Welcome, Spring! Welcome, Nuthatches and Nuthatch families! 

This week the Nuthatches embraced the new season and some new faces with joy and enthusiasm. We met lead instructor Jamie Eggleston, assistant instructor Edie McRoberts, and two new students. We played name games to introduce ourselves!

Note: thanks to all the Nuthatch instructors (Jamie Eggleston, Emily Rose, and Ariadne Filothei Vazenios) for contributing photos for this week’s post!

On Monday, the Nuthatches went over our community guidelines, the Three Respects: Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the Earth. We shared our names, and our favorite plant. Some favorite plants were skunk cabbage, maple trees, and sunflowers. As the weather gets warmer, we’ll be looking out for green buds on our plant friends! We’ll also be using our senses to observe changes in the temperature, precipitation, and sky. Jamie led us in using colors to express our observations about the weather on our weather chart. 

When we arrived in camp on Monday, the Nuthatches were bursting with energy. We showed our new Nuthatch and Jamie our favorite parts of camp: the sap tree, the shelter, the firepit, the seesaw, and more. The Nuthatches even helped Jamie draw a map with charcoal from the fire! Then we sat down to slunch around a warm fire that Edie built. Nora enlisted the Nuthatches to help her tell the story of the Peace Superheroes, which is an important story about animals with different problem-solving skills. We began by telling about Fine Words Fox, who helps people to use fine words in speaking about their feelings; Feel-better Butterfly, who cheers people up by painting his wings; and Shadowtail, who helps the animals by carrying them through the forest on her back. This story was originated by Melissa Blake, the co-founder of Ithaca Forest Preschool. 

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches started off the day playing “What time is it, Fine Words Fox?” in the front field. When the answer was “Lunchtime!” we ran very fast back to the starting line! During circle we played the name game super fast! Once we got out to camp, it was time to play “Seasons are Changing” in the big field. The Nuthatches were so good at escaping the taggers, and came up with some great questions to ask, such as “Does your animal fly?” and “Does your animal have claws?” Then we went on a search for Emily, our instructor who’d wandered off in search of firewood. We got a little off-track in our search, but we finally found her because she made crow calls through the brush. At slunch, Emily read two wonderful books to us: “Tico and the Golden Wings” by Leo Lionni, and “Bugs are Insects” by Anne Rockwell. We closed out the day by sharing gratitude and dancing!

Wednesday was a celebration of mud and rain! The front field was full of chocolate-colored puddles that the Nuthatches splashed in. At morning circle, Astrid led us in the song “Oh the Seasons Change”. We used our five senses to see, hear, touch, smell and taste the rain as it fell gently down on us. And we played the tickling game with white pine needles! We even found a dragon egg and put it in a dragon cave in a tree. Once we got to camp, the Nuthatches noticed that the Peace Stones were missing! Jamie showed us a map that had some clues to find them, and we set off to search. Finally we found all of them and returned them to the peace log, which is a special place a person can go if they’re feeling upset. Jamie made a fire to warm us up at slunch, and Nora continued the story of the Peace Superheroes to include Peaceful Porcupine, who reminds us to take a deep breath when we’re angry or frustrated. Astrid sat under an umbrella and read some clever and silly poems from the book “Soup for Breakfast” by Calef Brown. 

On Thursday the Nuthatches frolicked in the sunshine all day. We went over creek guidelines, and then trekked over to the creek, where there was a new bridge! While we were there we saw so many interesting things: two dark-eyed juncos playing, skunk cabbage popping up everywhere even in the water, a beautiful fossil, and even a crayfish that seemed to be wounded. The Nuthatches gently helped the crayfish get to a safe place to heal. We also saw a tick crawling around–we took a good look and then brought it to the water to drown. Nuthatch families, make sure to do a thorough tick check every day after program! We all shared a gratitude for the creek and the fun we had there. Then it was time for slunch, where Nora told the Peace Superheroes story again and Emily read a book about frogs! Jamie and Nora also made a special snack: popcorn, with salt and honey! What a nice way to end the first week of spring preschool. 

Week 10 Chickadees, Tuesday: Migrating Geese!

Week 10 Chickadees, Tuesday: Migrating Geese!

Our last Tuesday of the winter session included an epic wander, a very silly story and lots of geese honking. The day was so busy that Sarah didn’t take any photos!

TUESDAY 

The Chickadees played in the front field on a cloudy Tuesday morning. While walking around, they noticed numerous piles of deer scat and ran from each pile they found shouting “scat!” The children contemplated if this scat was fresh or old and noticed that some of the piles were different colors. Was some of this scat buried underneath all of that snow we had? 

The flock wandered over to “Tamarack Island” and collected sticks that had fallen from the trees for firewood. They noticed that many of these sticks had tiny pinecones attached to them! There was so much to see on this tiny island and the Chickadees spent some time exploring here when they suddenly noticed a narrow path leading to a place they had never been to before. Let’s go check it out! 

They walked together down the path until it opened up to a small camp with a fire circle and a shelter. Many of the Chickadees believed this shelter was Sasquatches’ home! They even found some large footprints they were convinced belonged to the mysterious creature. The flock didn’t stop here long because just beyond the trees they could see an open field that looked fun to run in, and that’s exactly what they did!

After running through the field and finding some special sticks, the children noticed another trail — the Chickadees sure are an adventurous bunch! Together they explored the camp that the path led them to and even found a white pine tree with two, slightly separated trunks that the children could walk between. They took turns doing this and then found another special white pine tree that had low branches which they could hold on to. When Eli asked the flock if they’d like to come back here in the spring, they shouted YES!

It was time to head back to the front field where we left our backpacks but how should we get there? The children stood near the creek and contemplated how they could cross without getting wet. They pointed out some logs and rocks they could step on and proceeded to cross the creek. The Chickadees found so many cool things while they walked downstream — partially frozen sticks, pieces of ice, crunchy mud, puddles of water. After our creek wander, the Chickadees had to climb a tall hill to get back to the trail. They used their hands and sticks to make it to the top and some exclaimed “I did it!” when they reached the top.

The children grabbed their packs and flew down the trail to Trillium Camp like a flock of geese. They played in camp before slunch while Eli built a fire and Sarah helped some children change their socks and boots, which had gotten wet in the creek. When it was time to eat, the Chickadees gathered in the log circle and listened to one of Eli’s famous three word stories. To do this, Eli asked the flock for three words and he used those words to tell a story called “The Cookie Supreme.” While Sarah missed part of this story, she could hear lots of laughter coming from the log circle so it must have been pretty funny!

After singing “The Day is Done,” cleaning up camp and packing up their bags, it was time for Closing Circle. The flock sang some of their favorite songs from the fall and winter (“Jingle Bells” was one of them!) and then shared some gratitude for the day. After each person said what they were grateful for, the children “honked” like geese in agreement; this was really silly and something we’ll continue doing in the spring. We said goodbye to Trillium Camp and walked together back to the red oak tree — another special ending to a fun winter day!

 

Thank you so much for reading our posts this winter! We’ll see you in spring!

Week 10: Monday, Wednesday – the Changing of the Seasons

Week 10: Monday, Wednesday – the Changing of the Seasons

This week, the last sheets of ice froze on the banks of the creek and one last winter chill filled the air. While Monday dawned cold with a dusting of snow, Wednesday was filled with the smell of spring in the damp air and a vibrancy and energy that spoke to the changing season. In our last week of Winter Session of preschool, the winter fairies waved us goodbye as spring rode in on the backs of the geese and the forest awoke from its winter slumber. 

Chickadees

Monday morning in the Chickadee flock found us in the log circle around a collection of tracks. Plaster casts and track cards of the different animals we had studied this winter were spread out in an oval. Eli handed out cards with pictures of animals on them, and the Chickadees went around the circle matching tracks to creatures. From our very first animal, the squirrel, to last week’s beaver, we were reminded of how many creatures live in the world around us and share the forest with us.

The animals we learned about this winter:

Squirrel, fox, owl, raccoon, fisher and weasel, porcupine, black bear, beaver, and this week’s mystery animal… 

There was one track in the group that we couldn’t identify. We hadn’t seen this strange print before. It had three toes with webbed feet! The chickadees guessed all different animals – ducks, turtles, water birds. We’d have to wait until slunch to find out what it was. For now, it was time to sing The Wolf, the Fox, and the Weasel, and move like our favorite animal to our backpacks to head down to camp.

We made it halfway down the path to camp when Sarah stopped us. She had a special surprise for us. We needed to check the trail camera again! She had brought along her camera, and headed down the hill to retrieve the SD card from the trail cam to show us the pictures. We found many surprises, including a fox, a woodchuck, and a Nora! 

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When we made it down to camp, we noticed lots of ice lining the banks of the creek. Though it had been warm last week, this week was cold! We got to play with the ice, breaking it up with sticks and stones. We also continued our busy beaver project from last week, building the bridge across the creek with logs from our deconstructed shelter. This time we had a drill, and helped Eli and Peter tackle this big project. 

When it was slunch time, we were ready to huddle around the fire and fill our bellies with warm food. While we ate and watched the fire crackle, Nora told us the story of Gary the Goose, who learned why geese fly in the V formation that they do. He learned that it was because flying with the flock and using teamwork makes the flying easier for everyone, and that when they honk to each other it is to encourage the goose in the front to keep flying. Gary realized that by helping others and having his flock help him, he felt really good and was able to fly much farther.

With the coming spring, it is fitting that our animal for this week is a goose! The migration of the geese back into Ithaca could be heard in the skies above 4H Acres all morning as the flocks honked overhead.

After slunch, the Chickadees wandered up to the top of the climbing hill and explored deep into the brambles. We traveled under branches and across small streams of water, exploring the bank of the creek. We found lots of interesting plants and ice in the creek. At the end of our wander, Sarah called us over to a very interesting plant that had just started growing in the marshy area next to the water. These strange, red, tear-drop shaped plants were just barely peeking out of the ground. It was skunk cabbage! A sure sign that warmer weather is on the way.

In closing circle, we all sang our favorite songs from the winter and fall and expressed our gratitude for the day, opening up our hearts to the last week of Winter.

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On Wednesday, the smell of spring was strong in the air around the forest and the robins pecked and hopped around the front field. This cloudy day certainly felt like spring, and was a great way to end our Winter Session. We sang a song for all of the animals we had learned about, dancing like each one as we sang. We celebrated each creature and all that we had learned about it. Then, it was time to head down the path toward camp to see what was different today.

We stopped at the trail camera to see what other creatures we’d captured, and made sure to do a little dance to trigger the camera ourselves. Then we continued down the trail to find an iceless creek and bare leaves on the ground. We quickly raced to the creek and splashed around in the shallow water, throwing rocks and watching the water droplets jump into the air and onto our rain pants. We also helped Eli and Peter finish the bridge, setting up several stumps to support the base and lashing longer sticks across.

Though there was still a bit of a chill in the air, playing in the water and examining the rocks on the riverbed awoke our spring curiosity. There are so many changes happening in the woods right now, and our energy from the seasonal changes was palpable in camp.

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At slunch around our fire, we peered into our sap bucket as we warmed the frozen sap by the fire and drank some of the sweet, clear liquid from our cups. Then Nora told us about the most magical change of all with the beginning of spring.

    As Willa the Winter Fairy flitted around the woods in the middle of March, she realized that her favorite season was coming to a close. The snow and ice were beginning to melt and the air was starting to smell like warm earth. While she was preparing for her hibernation in the cold creek bed, she knew that something exciting was just around the corner. The Spring Fairies were returning to the land! Spring Fairies travel on the backs of geese, so when the flocks begin to return to the northern woods, the Spring Fairies return as well. The Spring Equinox was just around the corner, one of only two days of the year where there is the same amount of daylight as night time. The Spring Equinox marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring, and that is the only day of the year that the Winter Fairies and the Spring Fairies get to see each other. They are great friends, and so on this day they celebrate the change of the seasons by throwing a beautiful, vibrant party!

    On the day of the Spring Equinox, the Willa the Winter Fairy and her friend, Sylvia the Spring Fairy met for the festivities. All the fairies gathered around and danced and sang and ate good food for the entire day – all 12 hours. It was such a jubilant day, and the fairies spent the entire day together in celebration. Then, as darkness fell, the fairies made a fire and spent the entire night – all 12 hours – telling each other stories and growing tired around the warm hearth. And as the day drew to a close, they each expressed how much they appreciated the other, and how amazing they thought all of the jobs and help were that the Spring Fairies and Winter Fairies provided to the forest. 

    Nora wanted us to know this story because she wanted the Chickadees to know that Willa the Winter Fairy had already said goodbye to all of us. She’s left us presents of the last little bits of ice in the creek, and the sap in the trees as a thank you for getting to know her, and for being outside in her favorite season.

With dreams of the Fairy Equinox in our minds and so much excitement in our bodies, we raced back to the creek and enjoyed splashing in its waters, racing around camp as the day warmed and the sun came out, and finishing our wooden bridge in the damp dirt on the banks of the creek.

When the day was done and we danced back up from camp, our screams and laughter echoed off the first few buds on the trees. We ran around the Front Field in the sunshine, taking off layers of clothing and with it, shedding the chill and gratitude of spending the winter outside in the woods, communing with the trees and the creatures and exploring the natural world around us.

Nuthatches

Monday’s chill to the air reminded us that we weren’t done with winter just yet as we gathered in Opening Circle. Last week we’d started talking about signs of spring, and one thing we’d noticed in the forest around us was the sound of geese migrating back to the area. This week, our mystery animal is the goose! There are so many interesting facts and lessons that we can learn from geese, including how much they like to travel.

Just like a flock of geese, our Monday would be filled with travel, too! The Nuthatches found out that they’d be going on a special journey out to the Hemlock Grove. As we made our way out of the front field, down past the creek, and turned left at Turkey Knoll, the flock was full of curiosity about what this grove could look like. What were Hemlocks? As we made our way through the forest, we passed lots of trees without leaves on them and fallen leaves on the ground. We found patches of ice that covered up the leaves and grass – signs of the melting that had occurred last week. There were patches of green moss growing on the ground, but mostly the forest was brown – free of snow but also lacking leaves. Then suddenly, we came upon a strange darkness ahead of us. There was a wall of dark green ahead on the trail. 

The dense canopy of the hemlocks filtered out the sunlight, casting long, dappled shadows on the ground below. We discovered that hemlocks are evergreen trees, keeping their short, dense needles all through winter. The forest changed dramatically as we entered the grove. It was cool in the shade of the trees, and there was still snow on the ground. As we made our way through the forest, we came upon our camp for the day. A small shelter was leaning against a big hemlock, and there were so many fallen logs to climb on all around camp. After dropping off our backpacks, we got to work finding the best climbing logs and collecting firewood for slunch. It was even colder with the filtered sunlight underneath the hemlocks.

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We wandered past camp to the edge of the Beaver Pond, on the opposite side from where we’d gone last week. We jumped over ice puddles and found lots of good branches to bring back for our fire.

After the long walk to the Hemlock Grove, we were hungry and ready for slunch. Ian built a roaring fire, sprinkling it with magic fluff from cattails to feed it and make it do tricks. We sat and warmed ourselves, listening to the story of a curious young goose who was wondering why the flock had so many strange customs. The elder geese told the young goose that they fly in formation because it is easier to travel, just like humans walking in a single-file line through deep snow. It is challenging for the person in front, but easier for everyone behind, so they take turns in front and encourage each other to keep going by honking. By using teamwork and encouragement, the geese can fly farther together.

After we’d warmed up by the fire, we raced through the trees, playing Camouflage and hiding behind the tree trunks so that Nora couldn’t find us. We explored our camp more and found lots of great places to play and climb. As the day drew to a close, we gathered our backpacks and headed away from the dense, hidden world of the hemlocks, out of the dappled light beams and back into the sunny deciduous forest, awaiting the leaves to come back with the spring.

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On Wednesday, the smell of spring filled the air. The world felt damp and full of moisture, promising warmer temperatures ahead. As we gathered in Opening Circle, Nani showed us a strange object. It was a plaster cast of an animal print – but it didn’t look like any we’d seen before. This didn’t have the toes that a squirrel or a fox would have. It only had three toes, and webbing in between each foot. It was the track of a goose! Unlike the other animals we’d learned about, this bird likes to spend time in the water, so its feet are very unique.

The warm weather was filling us with energy, so we couldn’t contain ourselves and raced around the field. It was time to head down to camp, so we ran down the hill, past the creek, and up into Turkey Knoll. There was an exciting activity for us waiting there. We were going to practice throwing sticks! Nora and Astrid set up our Guardians, the lean-to of sticks that we were trying to knock over, and the Nuthatches patiently waited their turn to tackle the Guardians. With a big wind up, the sticks went flying through the air, knocking over the Guardians several times. The flock did a great job practicing their safety precautions and waiting their turn to throw.

After all that activity, it was time for slunch. We all gathered together around the fire to find a special treat waiting for us. A jar of popcorn kernels, a pan, and some oil were sitting by the fire. Pouring the seeds into the pan, we shared stories while we watched the kernels pop into fluffy white popcorn. There was also a sweet addition to our popcorn snack – we had honey and cinnamon sugar to eat on top! We drizzled the sweet flavors over our popcorn and devoured the sugary, savory snack. The sticky fingers were well worth it!

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After we had washed our hands and cleaned our spaces, we had a little bit of time to play on the logs around camp before Nora told us we needed to head back up to the Front Field. We were heading back early to reunite with one of our favorite instructors.

Elizabeth was waiting for us at the picnic tables! She had a mysterious bag and asked us all to sit down so she could tell us what was inside. She pulled out a pair of knitting needles and some yarn, and explained to us how she enjoyed knitting and the different stitches she could do with her needles to make all sorts of interesting patterns with the yarn. Then she told us the kind and thoughtful thing she had done for each Nuthatch – she’d knitted each person a scarf! She explained that she had picked some left over yarn for each person, then decided on a pattern, and started knitting. Sometimes, she’d make a mistake in her pattern. OOPS! She’d just have to keep knitting. She said if you looked closely at each scarf, you could see her mistakes. No one is perfect, and that’s what makes each scarf unique and handmade.

Then she reached into her bag and handed out each scarf in turn, showing the different colors and patterns she’d chosen. The Nuthatches unrolled their gifts and put them on, looking closely to find the little mistakes Elizabeth had described. Everyone was so happy with their scarf. Thank you so much Elizabeth!

To wrap up the exciting day, we gathered in a circle. Elizabeth asked us to think about a mistake we’d made recently and something that we liked about ourselves. Each Nuthatch shared as the sun came out from behind the clouds and bathed our circle in golden light. The day warmed around us as we thanked Elizabeth for coming to visit. As we raced around the Front Field, playing games together and running through the warming weather, our energy telling us that spring was surely right around the corner.

This winter was snowy and full of beauty. Being outside in such a cold season is always challenging but infinitely rewarding. You see things you can’t see any other time of year, like the movements of the animals in the snow. You hear things, like the silence of the leafless forest, and you appreciate each ray of sunshine that beams through the trees. This winter was full of mysteries and wanders, full of magic. As the seasons change and spring fills the air, the preschoolers are so excited to continue to explore the forest as it awakens and shakes itself back to life.

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Week 10 Nuthatches, Tuesday: Gooses Getting Goofy

Week 10 Nuthatches, Tuesday: Gooses Getting Goofy

Our last Tuesday of winter preschool!

This was a week of celebration and fun (even more than usual)!

Note: Thanks again to Emily Rose for most of these photos!

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches started off by looking at a picture of a goose in a book. It was hard to think about geese without getting goofy! But Nora and Emily called the Nuthatches to a secret meeting while Ian went off to set up an activity and everyone focused their energy. It was time to say goodbye to our beloved instructor Ian Statema.  During the meeting, the Nuthatches brainstormed some ways that we could send Ian off and show him how much we appreciated having him as an instructor. We decided we could give him some air hugs and air kisses, sing the Birdie Song (taught to us by Ian), gather firewood as a gift to him, and share gratitudes about the time we spent with him. We planned to do all this at closing circle. But it had to stay a secret! The Nuthatches sealed their lips. 

As we set off to camp, the Nuthatches noticed a mysterious pile of wood shavings on the ground. Then we saw another one up ahead. And another! It was a trail–could it be leading us somewhere? The Nuthatches looked carefully to figure it out. We followed the trail over the stream and off the main path, leading us to camp via a shortcut. We decided to pick up some of the shavings to give to Ian!

Once we got to camp, we took a look into the sap bucket. It was heavy and full–of ice! Some of the Nuthatches spotted some bugs in there too. As we looked at the sap, we could hear a sharp beat made by two sticks. The noise was coming from Ian, who was waiting for us in the field. Behind him were four structures made of sticks leading together. Ian explained that these were the guardians, and he challenged us to use throwing sticks to knock them down, and then we could see what the guardians were guarding. The Nuthatches took turns hurling the throwing sticks towards the guardians, and waited patiently for somebody to knock them down. Finally, it happened! When we looked behind the guardians, we found a basket of firewood and a teapot full of hemlock needles! Just what we needed for some delicious tea. 

 

The Nuthatches led the way in collecting firewood for our slunch fire. Ian worked to set up a tripod, where he hung the teapot with water and hemlock needles. Soon the fire was roaring and the tea was bubbling. Emily read the book “How Chipmunk Got His Stripes,” by Joseph Bruchac and James Bruchac, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey. She used a squeaky voice for Chipmunk (or Brown Squirrel, as he starts out), and a gruff voice for Bear. The Nuthatches loved it so much that they asked her to read it again! After slunch we sipped some delicious hemlock tea with honey. 

Then it was time for some free play! The Nuthatches climbed on a balancing log and slid down a tree like a fire pole! They ran in the field like dragons! They made faces and gave great guffaws! And then we all came together for closing circle, where we sang the Birdie Song for Ian, gave gratitude for him, and did some air hugs. We closed out our circle by doing the sneaky clap, which Ian taught us and is always a hit. Thanks Ian for being with us this winter! We’ll see you aroung 4-H acres on Thursdays. 

Nuthatch families, thanks for reading! We’ll see you in the spring!

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 program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and is run by Primitive Pursuits, a 4-H Program.