Week 5 Nuthatches, Tuesday/Thursday: Sun and Rain

Week 5 Nuthatches, Tuesday/Thursday: Sun and Rain

It really felt like spring this week! We enjoyed learning about robins, the perfect spring animal. Here’s to longer days and greener forests!

The Nuthatches explored the woods and creek as the leaves burst out and the worms wriggled. 

Note: many thanks again to Emily Rose for some beautiful photos!

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches learned a robin song and everyone helped to sing it at opening circle! Then we reviewed the 3 Respects to set us up for a smooth day. We even noticed a worm in the middle of our circle, and we tried to listen to it like robins do. It was a good test of our listening skills. Then it was time for a wander! Emily led us in a wiggly worm line that made loops and curves as we explored a new path.

On our wander, we came across giant skunk cabbage, a sparkling creek, and a big striped turkey feather! We also happened upon a few camps with some interesting structures. Finally we found a good spot to settle down for lunch. But first—camouflage! The Nuthatches found some great hiding spots. At lunch, we told some really silly knock-knock jokes and just couldn’t stop laughing! Some of the Nuthatches finished lunch early and practiced their climbing and building skills. Then we noticed that Nora had disappeared! But there was a call “All-In!” coming from the hemlocks! The Nuthatches followed it and found Nora hiding by some ramps. We spotted an owl pellet there too! We played one last game of camouflage to close out the day, and Jamie challenged us to hide in places other than behind the trees. The Nuthatches got creative and some of them almost turned invisible under the leaves!

On Thursday, there was rain all day, but that didn’t stop the Nuthatches from having fun! It was Nora’s last day at preschool, and while she went to get some materials, the Nuthatches huddled up for a secret meeting. They decided to make Nora a card to send her off–but they couldn’t tell her! When she came back, everyone was acting so normal she had no idea what was going on. Once they got to camp, Nora set up a throwing stick range, and the Nuthatches had some time to work on the card. They also got to enjoy the bouncy log! When they went up to the field to practice throwing sticks, everybody did a great job taking turns and listening to directions. We had some great throws! Whenever somebody knocked over one of the targets, or “guardians”, they unlocked something special. One of the things they unlocked was a visit from our old friend Cesca! It was great to see her. They also unlocked some silly dances, games, and sneaky claps. 

Before lunch, the Nuthatches noticed that Cesca had disappeared! They found her again by listening for her “All-In” call. Then everybody gathered for lunch, and Jamie told a spooky story about crickets. One of the homeschool groups was playing nearby and doing some strange things like meowing at us…and then they came and stole Cesca away! What an exciting morning. Before it was time to go, the Nuthatches gave their beautiful card to Nora and everybody posed for a photo. Then Jamie led us in a sneaky clap and we headed back to the front field. 

Thanks for being so wonderful to work with, Nuthatches and your families! Nora will miss you a lot and hopefully she’ll see you again around Ithaca!

Week 3 Nuthatches: Monday/Wednesday – Ruffed Grouse and exploring!

Week 3 Nuthatches: Monday/Wednesday – Ruffed Grouse and exploring!

The Nuthatches brought a lot of energy and excitement back at IFP after our week off. The rainy and chilly weather didn’t stop us from having a lot of fun this past Monday!

On Monday, instructors Jamie, Nora, Nani and Edie joined the Nuthatches and welcomed in more signs of Spring! The theme this week was the ruffed grouse.

On Monday, Jamie opened morning circle with a mystery object that was wrapped in a bandana. The Nuthatches gathered on their logs in a circle and took turns passing the object around. The Nuthatches showed a focus of energy as they tapped into their senses and guessed what the mystery object could be. There were some really observant and good guesses! The mystery item was then revealed to be a stick with a large, burl-like sphere that wrapped entirely around it. The stick also happened to make a nice talking stick and we hope to use it more in our circle discussions going forward.

Our theme for the week was the ever-mysterious ruffed grouse! Edie shared with the Nuthatches some of the characteristics and behaviors of the ruffed grouse. Later, when playing some games in the field of Turkey Knoll, we were able to stop and listen to the drum-like beat that the ruffed grouse makes when they take flight! Other sightings that we noticed were juncos, the sound of woodpeckers, seeing trout lily and may apple!

After slunch, Jamie made some pine needle tea and shared a story about dragons who also like pine trees.  Nora shared with everyone the song “My Roots Go Down,” and we closed out the day with a round of gratitude using our new talking stick.

On Wednesday, the Nuthatches joined Astrid, Edie, Jamie and Nora for a day of new adventure. We had weather with sunny skies in the high 50’s. At opening circle, Astrid did a great job showing us how to sing “The Critter Song.” Then we passed around a mystery bundle as all the Nuthatches took turns guessing what it could be! After sharing some observant guesses, the mystery was revealed to be part of a bow drill friction fire kit. After circle, the Nuthatch flock hiked out to the hemlock grove for some change of scenery! When we got to the hemlock grove, we came across one of our Spring favorite plants; ramps!

Astrid guided the Nuthatches around the ramps and we had a discussion about what it means to respect the plant. All the Nuthatches were very mindful to not trample our delicious, edible friends. At our camp spot, Nora shared with the Nuthatches that ruffed grouse will hide and jump out at their predators to scare them away sometimes. Naturally, that sounded like a great game to play, and so we played “Grouse and Predator.” Edie helped the Nuthatches find their creative side in finding their hiding spots. Some children opted to be covered in leaves, while others chose to hide behind trees. While waiting for the predators to come near, the Nuthatches got to practice sitting still and being quite, similar to a sit spot!

During slunch, Jamie attempted to make a friction fire but came up short of getting a coal, so we had no fire that day. The Nuthatches did a great job cleaning up the camp site for the day and we have a feeling we’ll be visiting that spot again in the future.

Week 4 Chickadees: Wiggly Worms!

Week 4 Chickadees: Wiggly Worms!

This week the Chickadees learned about an invertebrate they love to find hiding under logs and in the dirt — worms!


“All-In Chickadees!” The children ran to the log circle where they were greeted by a mystery bag in Nora’s hand. They listened as she gave clues about what was inside and each got a chance to feel it and guess what it could be. After a loud drum roll (the Chickadees love giving drum rolls to reveal our daily mysteries!), Nora showed that the mystery was…dirt! But not just any dirt, she explained, dirt from the nearby compost bin! Nora explained that you can put lots of things in a compost bin (like vegetable scraps, egg shells, even tea bags!) and that over time, these things will start to decompose and can be used to help plants grow. The children learned that worms are great decomposers and that as they eat dead leaves, logs and other materials, their poop (also known as worm castings) has a lot of nutrients in it that’s good for plants — how cool is that?

After learning some fun facts about worms, the children got to practice being worms! Sarah explained to them that worms don’t have spines like we do and that makes them invertebrates. They also don’t have legs, arms or even eyes! The Chickadees went to the far side of the front field and closed their eyes while Sarah banged on a loud drum. The children had to follow the sound of the drum and try their best to walk in a straight line across the field. They practiced this until it was time to head down to Trillium Camp for slunch.

After washing hands, doing a tick scan and drinking some water, Sarah was about to tell a story when something AMAZING happened! A child pointed across the creek and said “what’s that?” Everyone looked toward the creek and saw, on the hill on the other side, a small animal with a long body. It had dark brown fur and short legs. The children watched it bound down the hill and go into the water where it swam downstream and out of sight! The children had some immediate guesses about what it could be — “A fisher!” “A mink!” These were great guesses because this animal was definitely in the weasel family. The Chickadees got to see a picture of each animal and after some discussion, they came to the conclusion that they had seen a mink! Sarah told the flock about the time she had seen a mink in Trillium Camp two years ago, but it was early in the morning before preschool had started. This was the first time we had seen a mink in camp during the preschool day so it was a very special moment for the Chickadees!

They spent the rest of the day playing in the creek, enjoying some light rain showers and singing Nora’s fun worm song in Closing Circle.


The Chickadees were happy to discover another mystery in Opening Circle on Tuesday! Eli held a small feather in his hand. The children noticed that it was blue, black, white and gray. Eli explained that the bird that this feather belongs to likes to eat acorns, insects, fruit and sometimes worms! The Chickadees each looked closely at the feather, shared their guesses and learned that the feather came from a blue jay! The children flew around the circle like blue jays, practicing their calls “Jay! Jay! Jay!”

Like Monday, the Chickadees practiced being worms and followed the sound of the drum to find their way across the front field. After a few rounds of that, Eli hid in a new place with the drum and the children had to find him! They were so excited to see where he was hiding that they opened their eyes a bit and ran to look behind every tree — where could he be? The drumming got louder and louder until…they found him hiding along the trail to Trillium Camp! The Chickadees each got a turn practicing banging the drum and then headed down to camp where they spent some time collecting firewood and exploring the wooded area above the Climbing Hill.

At slunch time they sat around a warm fire and listened as Rey told them an awesome story about different animals and their importance to their environment (worms included!). After filling their bellies with food and water, it was time to get moving because we were getting chilly! Many of the Chickadees are fascinated by volcanoes and like to play imaginative games where every volcano on Earth is erupting at the same time! The flock went on a wild adventure that led them through Trillium North, up the hill, to the front field and back down the Trillium Camp. During this time they had to dodge erupting volcanoes and rivers of lava — it sure was exciting!



Wednesday brought some wild weather! The day started off cool with some light rain, which turned into hail and eventually snow! The Chickadees started their day by helping fill up a wheelbarrow with firewood Nora had collected and worked together to bring it down to camp. After putting all the wood in Trillium Camp’s woodbox, the children saw that it was completely full and ready for us to have lots of fires in the future!

Before slunch, some of the children walked in the garden and found a mysterious piece of paper with a drawing of a plant with a tall and wide green leaf with a reddish stem. The Chickadees knew immediately that this was a clue and started looking for the plant. Their search took them to the top of the Climbing Hill, around the pavilion and back to the garden where they discovered a cluster of plants that looked similar to the drawing. The Chickadees learned that these plants are called ramps and that they take seven years to reach maturity — that’s older than all of the Chickadees! The children got to feel their soft, green leaves and noticed the reddish stem. The Chickadees remembered that they had seen this plant yesterday while collecting firewood at the top of the Climbing Hill!

Because it was starting to snow, the Chickadees ate their slunch in the shelter of the pavilion and listened to Sarah tell the first part of her favorite story called “The King with Dirty Feet.” After slunch it was time to get moving again. The Chickadees played a few rounds of the “All-In” game before heading inside for the last part of the day. Once inside, the flock made towers using blocks, worked with Chloe to complete a puzzle, read books and did some coloring!



On Thursday the Chickadees saw all kinds of weather in a single day — warm sunshine, rain, wind and even snow! They spent their day in Trillium Camp where they played a firewood collecting game and got to hear the rest of the “King with Dirty Feet” story at slunch time. They ended their day with Nora’s worm song and some gratitude.


Thank you for reading! We’ll see you next week! 

Week 4 Nuthatches: Monday/Wednesday

Week 4 Nuthatches: Monday/Wednesday

The Nuthatches had an excited week filled with new songs, worms, stories and tapping into their senses, especially listening and touch like during this game of “meet a tree.”

On Monday morning, Nora taught the Nuthatches the Space Worms song! We then worked together as a flock to make a terrarium for any worms, insects or little critters we might come across and talked about how we can be respectful while doing so!

Once we got out to camp on Monday, we played a game called “meet a tree,” where one partner guides the other blindfolded partner to a specific tree. The blindfolded Nuthatch gets a chance to feel the tree for details, and eventually gets to try to identify the tree with the blindfold removed. The Nuthatches displayed some incredible attention to detail using their sense of touch!

After playing our game, the instructors challenged the Nuthatches to see who could gather more firewood for our fire at slunch. The Nuthatches showed incredible determination and the competition was too close to call. Alas, both Nuthatches and instructors joined their gathered firewood for a wonderful slunch-time fire. At slunch, a few of the Nuthatches helped Jamie get a fire going with the bow drill. It was so cool to get a coal and fire from friction! At the same time, Edie shared a cool lesson on how friction works. Ariadne/Nani read the Nuthatches the story called “How Animals Hide,” by Robert McClung. The Nuthatches closed the day with a round of reflective gratitude for what we experienced that day.

On Wednesday, we had an odd spring day with temps in the low 30’s and even saw some snow and rain! We stuck with our theme of worms and had some fun with an adventure to save Astrid who had been turned into an old woman by the Lindworm! This happened right in the morning, and luckily Astrid left us some clues to find her. The Nuthatches gathered all their belongings and showed some impressive tracking and awareness as they followed her clues out to the hemlock grove.

The Nuthatches eventually spotted Astrid by a tree and learned that in order to turn Astrid back into her normal self, everyone had to gather firewood to build a fire for a “string burn.” Everyone worked together and gathered wood for a fire – not an easy task for such a rainy/snowy day. The group showed determination and eventually completed the task, finally freeing Astrid!

We learned that the Lindworm wanted to share a reminder of the Three Respects and the Nuthatches showed compassion and consideration by deciding to write the Lindworm a letter of gratitude and friendship. We ended the day with some free play. It was a full day of adventure and the Nuthatches did not let the odd weather distract them from having so much fun!

Week 4 Nuthatches: Celebrating the Earth

Week 4 Nuthatches: Celebrating the Earth

The Nuthatches had to use fire to stay warm this week! Maybe Spring is feeling a little shy…

Even though it was chilly, we did see some wriggly worms. We learned a fun song called “Spaceworms” by Susan Marcus and April Kassirer. By the end of the week, the Nuthatches could sing this song super fast and it was stuck in everybody’s head. 

On Tuesday, Jamie led us in speaking more about the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga Nation), whose unceded territory our program takes place on. We thought about how instead of being forced off their land in 1779, it would have been better for the early American settlers to find a way to share the land with them. The Nuthatches thought of some ways that we can try to take care of the earth, like the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ have done for hundreds of years. 

When the Nuthatches got out to camp, they noticed that Jamie had disappeared! But there was an “All In!” call coming from behind a white pine tree. There was Jamie, and he said it was time to go on a wander! We crossed the creek and stopped at a fallen log, where we played a sneaky game called “Keeper of the Keys” and another sneaky game called “Camouflage”! While we were hiding, it was so silent that we could hear the birds chattering in the swamp nearby. Then we headed back to camp (by way of the mud puddles), where we gathered some firewood and sat down to lunch. Some of the Nuthatches entertained us with spectacularly spooky stories, and then Jamie read a book called “Whose Tracks Are These?” by James Nail. 

The Nuthatches started off the day on Thursday by working more on the shelter made of wood cookies, and looking at a tick. The tick was moving very slowly because it was cold, but it reminded us to keep looking out for ticks every day. In opening circle, we spoke about how today is Earth Day, and as we honor the Earth we can also look to the example the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ set in taking care of this land. Once at camp, the Nuthatches broke up into groups to make some art to show our gratitude for the Earth. We used many different natural materials, and our creativity and thoughtfullness really shone through! Then we gathered a lot of firewood for a lunch fire. Nora got in some good practice using a bow drill kit but we ultimately ended up lighting our fire with a match. Emily read the story “How Chipmunk got His Stripes” (a Nuthatch favorite) by Joseph Bruchac and James Bruchac. We love it when Emily does different voices for brown squirrel and bear! Before leaving we made sure to do a good tick scan! 

Office Location:
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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.