Week 11 Nuthatches: Saying Goodbye

Week 11 Nuthatches: Saying Goodbye

Finishing up end of year projects, creek play, stories and games for the last week of Nuthatches for the spring semester!

On Monday, the Nuthatches joined instructors Rey, Nora M and Nani to begin the final week of forest preschool. The Nuthatches took their time working on their end of year stone drilling projects and were really seeming to get the hang of it! Some of the Nuthatches showed that by helping others in the process. The Nuthatches also worked on building a dam and saw toads, crayfish, algae and a dragonfly!

At the end of the day, Nora M lead the Nuthatches in a closing circle dance and song.

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches joined Jamie, Nani and Rey. For some, Tuesday was their last day. After opening circle, the Nuthatches and the Chickadees practiced their songs and stories for each other, which would later be performed for parents. They all did an awesome job with that! 

Later in the day, the Nuthatches worked some more on touching up their stone-drilled rocks and painting them. At closing circle, the Nuthatches were able to say goodbye to those whose last day it was. And lastly, at pick up, the Nuthatches performed their original story about Moss and Vam Pire for the parents. The story was made up by the Nuthatches and, as far as I know, is the only story in the world that includes 99 million tiny cats.

On Wednesday, the Nuthatches were joined by Jamie, Lyla, Nani and Astrid. Lyla enjoyed getting to know some of the Nuthatches, as she will be the new program coordinator for preschool next year. At opening circle, the Nuthatches talked about it being the last day and the group went out to White Pine camp. The only thing the Nuthatches seemed to want to do on Wednesday was play with each other. We all went out to the field to play in the tall grass, picked wildflowers and Lyla taught the Nuthatches about some new flowers like clover! We found out that the little petals can be sucked on to enjoy the sweet nectar in them.

After slunch, the Nuthatches got to have a little creek play and say good bye to one of their favorite places. There were indeed some sad feelings and the Nuthatches were able to have a small fire in which they put in a stick to symbolized any big feelings or expressions for their last day.

Once back at the pick up location, the Nuthatches gave one final performance of Vam Pire and Moss for the parents. A story that is sure to be told many times into the future.

Thank you parents for yours and your child’s commitment to our forest preschool program. Us instructors truly enjoyed spending time growing and playing alongside them.


Week 10 Nuthatches: Stories & Stone Drilling

Week 10 Nuthatches: Stories & Stone Drilling

It’s hard to believe that we only have a couple days left of forest preschool! This past week, we spent our time in play, creek time, stories and stone drilling. In the photo above, we played a sneaky rendition of the game “keeper of the keys.”

The Nuthatches are truly some amazing young humans. Throughout the spring, they’ve shown compassion, teamwork, and a willingness to work through the challenges of conflict. This week, we spent time doing what we love most: playing, creek-time, and stories.

Tuesday was our first day back after the long weekend. The Nuthatches spent the day at our home base camp Turkey Knoll with Jamie, Eli and Rey. At opening circle, we discussed the changes that we noticed throughout the past several months, including what we notice is different outside now. The Nuthatches had lots of keen observations to share on that! We even talked about the changes that the Nuthatches have experienced personally throughout this time.

Once we got to camp, one of the Nuthatches found a tick crawling around and many circled around to look at it. The Nuthatches are on their way to becoming experts at spotting ticks and plants like poison ivy.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of some free play with each other and listening to Rey tell an epic story of Thor and some other tricksters.


On Wednesday, the Nuthatches had a couple visitors during opening circle. Our friend “Chippy” the chipmunk came around right when the Nuthatches began having their morning snack. That sparked conversation about being respectful to wildlife by not feeding them. A few of the Nuthatches also noticed a deer in the woods that morning! 

The Nuthatches also got to switch camps with the Chickadees and spent the day at Trillium camp playing by the creek. While down by the creek, the Nuthatches began selecting stones thin enough to drill through. The stones will be used for their end of season project and will continue to be worked on next week!

At slunch, Jamie told a rendition of the Grimms’ story ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. Later in the day, a couple Nuthatches lead the group in a tick scan before heading home.

On Thursday morning, Rey taught a new song to the Nuthatches about bears! Thursday was also the day that the Nuthatches decided to tell their own made-up story to the Chickadees. Not only did all the Nuthatches participate, but they acted out many of the characters in the story too! The Chickadees seemed to love having a story acted out for them. Stay tuned on that, parents, we’d love to share it with you.

The Nuthatches ended the day with some more free play and stone drilling for their projects. Many Nuthatches showed great concentration and focus on the task at hand.

What an incredible gift they all are to spend time with!


Week 9 Chickadees: Stories and Scavenger Hunts!

Week 9 Chickadees: Stories and Scavenger Hunts!

This week the Chickadees embarked on an epic scavenger hunt that led to some interesting items. Read more to find out what they were!


The party continued! Last week, the Chickadees earned their fourth star and split their party day into two — who doesn’t like two parties?! The fun started during arrival where the children got to practice stone drilling, a technique for drilling holes in stones, or other materials. Ian, a Primitive Pursuits instructor who was with the Nuthatches in the winter, and Nora helped the children practice holding and spinning the drills between their hands. It was tricky but the Chickadees did a good job and found that while they may have not been able to drill a hole in the stone yet, they could still scratch designs into them!

In Opening Circle the flock did another song share where they sang all their favorites — Jingle Bells, the Halloween Song and Nora’s beaver song. They banged on the drum, tapped on the logs and wood cookies and before they knew it, it was time to head down to camp! Once there, the children found a strange note that said –

Dear Chickadees, 

You are about to embark on an epic scavenger hunt! To get your first clue you must make us a cake!

Love, the Eat-A-Munchers 

The Chickadees got right to work making a cake using all the eat-a-munchers’ favorite things — skunk cabbage, honeysuckle flowers, rocks, water, grass, leaves and so much more! They left it out for the eat-a-munchers to find overnight. We were so excited to see what the first clue is!

At slunch Nora told an awesome story about how porcupines got their quills. The children listened intently and helped Nora act out parts of the story. When everyone had filled their bellies with food and water, it was time to play! The Chickadees showed Ian their obstacle course, they found more baby crawfish in the creek and they built a great terrarium for the many toads and worms they found.

“All-In Chickadees!” It was time for Closing Circle. The group gathered together in the log circle where they each shared a gratitude for anything in their lives. After each person went, they threw their arms up in the air and shouted “spring!”



The Chickadees welcomed Lyla to the flock on Tuesday during Opening Circle! Lyla will be with the Chickadees on Tuesdays and Thursdays until the end of the spring session and will be the preschool program coordinator in the fall — welcome Lyla! When the children stopped at the top of the bridge, they immediately noticed one thing that had changed since yesterday…the eat-a-munchers had eaten the entire cake! We rushed down the bridge, hung up our backpacks and while on our way to the edge of the creek to take a closer look at the empty bucket, some Chickadees brushed against the stinging nettle growing in our garden. Stinging nettle is an amazing plant with so many uses but it does have tiny stinging hairs called trichomes that can irritate our skin. Luckily, there is lots of jewelweed that grows right next to our nettle patch. The Chickadees have gotten really good at identifying this special plant and have learned how to crush it up and rub it on their nettle stings and mosquito bites!

The flock walked over to the bucket and noticed that it was completely empty! Those eat-a-munchers must have been hungry. Inside was a small note that read —

Thank you so much for the delicious cake!  We especially loved the skunk cabbage and honeysuckle flowers. 

Your clue can be found with the Nuthatches. Good luck! 

Love, the Eat-A-Munchers 

The Chickadees used their deer ears to listen for when the Nuthatches were in their camp and when they were, they excitedly climbed the Climbing Hill to get their first clue for the scavenger hunt. In order to receive the clue however, the Nuthatches asked us to tell them a story! Nora told the group about circle stories and how each person can add a sentence and together we’d create a story. The Chickadees told a lovely tale about a whole bunch of animals that are dancing in the forest when they suddenly heard a loud ROAR! They learned that it was coming from a lion who wanted firewood. The animals collected some wood, lit a fire and then invited the lion to dance with them and they partied all night long! The Nuthatches seemed to like our story because they told us where we could find the clue — in a hole in a tree! The Chickadees looked around their camp and quickly found it, but there was something strange about this clue…it didn’t make any sense! After some closer inspection we realized that the clue had been ripped in half! In order to get the second half of the clue, the children would have to make a casserole for the eat-a-munchers!

Back to Trillium Camp we went to get working on the casserole for the eat-a-munchers and to eat our own slunch. Sarah told a three word story where she asked the children to give her three words, which were cheetah, butterfly and leopard. The story was about a butterfly who loved to drink nectar from these special flowers but a cheetah got angry because he was the guardian of the flowers and loved to sniff them and didn’t want anyone near his precious flowers. He challenged the butterfly to a race between two mountains and whoever won would get to be guardian of the flowers. After some mischievous trickery, the butterfly won the race! All the animals cheered, including a leopard, but the cheetah was so sad. The butterfly decided to share the flowers with the cheetah and together they became the guardians of the flowers. There are so many fun ways to tell stories!



The Chickadees immediately noticed that the casserole they had made for the eat-a-munchers was gone as they waited at the top of the bridge to enter camp. After hanging up their backpacks, they walked over to the container and noticed a small note attached to the outside of it — it looked like the other half of yesterday’s clue! They took the clue the Nuthatches had given them and put it next to this one and they fit perfectly. The clue read —

Nuthatches and Chickadees, how you see

This hunt isn’t easy-peasy

Now you must dash 

to the Grove of Ash 

And find the secret stash!

At first the children thought this clue didn’t make any since and that the eat-a-munchers were just being silly again but then they realized something! In Opening Circle that morning, the mystery bag item had been the leaves from an ash tree and the Chickadees reminisced about the time they switched camps with the Nuthatches in the fall and got to spend the day in the Ash Grove. Wait a minute, was this clue telling us to go to the Ash Grove? The Chickadees certainly thought so! They walked together to the “Grove of Ash” where they noticed a small basket with an orange bandana covering something inside. They opened it up and found…”small wooden coins?” one of the Chickadees asked. They looked closer at the wooden discs that filled the basket and noticed they each had a small hole at the top. What could these be for?

The flock was getting hungry and it was time for slunch! They headed back to camp, washed their hands, got out their food and sat around a smokey fire that Nora built to help keep the mosquitos away. Afterwards they played in the creek, finding crawfish and making another cake for the eat-a-munchers, this time made entirely out of rocks (which is one of their favorite things to eat!). At Closing Circle, Nora gave the flock “fire power” and they were able to shoot fire out of their hands at Nora’s feet with their gratitudes. The fire power and the gratitude combined made Nora’s feet dance really fast — it was such a silly and fun way to end the day!



1. Carefully climb up the tall volcano 

2. Sneak past the spider 

3. Hop on the horse 

4. Walk past the letter “y”

5. And there you will find…

The Chickadees listened as these strange clues were read to them Thursday morning after arriving in Trillium Camp. These clues were left beside the empty bucket that held the cake made out of rocks the children had made for the eat-a-munchers. “Carefully climb the tall volcano” — could the “volcano” be our Climbing Hill that we sometimes pretend is a volcano? The Chickadees quickly climbed up the hill, excited to see where the next clue would take them. While walking along the path next to the hill, they came across a tree stump whose roots were exposed, making it look like a spider! They followed what the clue said and snuck past the “spider.” The Chickadees found the third clue to be very easy — the Horsey Log! They all hopped on and had a few bounces and then were off to clue number 4, “walk past the letter y.” This one proved to be a bit trickier. The children walked down the hill and found themselves in Trillium North where, after some searching, spotted a tree shaped like the letter “y!” Up in its branches sat a small basket with two skeins of blue and orange yarn.

The scavenger hunt led the Chickadees to small wood cookies and yarn. What do you think the Chickadees going to use these for? 


Thank you so much for reading! 

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.