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!


Nuthatches Week 8: Fairies and Creek Play

Nuthatches Week 8: Fairies and Creek Play

At the end of last week, the Chickadee flock set up an obstacle course for the Nuthatches. On Monday, the Nuthatches finally got to complete it!

This past week, the Nuthatches focused on the theme of fairies and got to spend a lot of time by the creek, meeting some wildlife, and playing some fun games.

On Monday, instructors Jamie, Eli and Nani met the Nuthatches for an awesome opening circle. The Nuthatches practiced good listening skills while Jamie told a story about fairies and animals finding a way to live in balance with each other.

 Out at camp, we the Nuthatches split into pairs to build fairy houses together. The Nuthatches were encouraged to work with kids who they haven’t spent as much one-on-one time with. It gave them the opportunity to make some deeper connections with the Nuthatch flock!

 Throughout the day, the Nuthatches saw a bull frog, a tick, and a crayfish. At the end of the day, the Nuthatches got to do the Chickadees obstacle course. They said it was easy for them and admitted that it was still a lot of fun!


On Tuesday, the Nuthatches were outside with Eli and Jamie for a beautiful day with weather in the 70’s! At opening circle we had a pair of chipmunks come within a couple feet of many of the Nuthatches. Everyone watched with wonder and amazement! We talked about what we thought they were doing, as it happened to be right during out snack time.

Out at camp, the Nuthatches worked on a fairy shelter together and even got involved in a stick throwing game. Eli noticed some poison ivy around camp and all the Nuthatches were able to look at it and learn how to identify the plant. It was another fun day with the Nuthatch flock!


On Wednesday, Eli, Jamie and Astrid joined the Nuthatches for another beautiful day! At opening circle, we recalled our friend, the Lindworm and wrote a letter to them. When we got out to the forest, we went to the creek and the Nuthatches used their creativity to make a boat out of bark and pinecones to send the letter on. Later in the day, the Lindworm had returned a letter to the Nuthatches asking them how they could help protect nature. It was a big question that we are still thinking about!

On our adventure, we saw an inch worm and more crayfish! 

On Thursday, Jamie, Eli and Nani spent the day at White Pine camp which gave us great access to the field and the creek. Thursday was the hottest day of the week and the Nuthatches did a great job drinking enough water! 

When we got out to camp, we played a game in the field called “snakes in the grass,” a combination of tag and acting like a snake! We followed our game up with a good tick check – the Nuthatches are really getting the hang of those!

The Nuthatches had lots of room for being goofy and playing in the creek. Toward the end of creek play, Eli caught a lobster, as the Nuthatches like to call them. This crayfish really was one of the biggest we’ve seen before though! So much fun.


Week 7 Nuthatches: Ancestry, Fire and Scouting

Week 7 Nuthatches: Ancestry, Fire and Scouting

We received a lot of rain at 4-H Acres over the past week or so. The Nuthatches installed a rain gauge the week prior to track how much rain we’ve gotten!

On Monday, Eli, Jamie, Nani and the Nuthatches stopped at camp to check the rain gauge. While the Nuthatches were at camp, Jamie disappeared for a moment…

Jamie crossed the creek heading toward the hemlock grove and then called “all in!” to the Nuthatches. Eli, Nani and the Nuthatches gathered their things and set out to find where Jamie was calling from. To make it more challenging, Jamie kept moving as he called “all in!” The Nuthatches showed great group cohesiveness while crossing the creek; all the recent rain had caused the creek level to rise! Eventually, the Nuthatches found Jamie at the edge of the hemlock grove.

 At the hemlock grove, the Nuthatches enjoyed some free play and during slunch, the flock talked about fire, ancestry, and sat around the fire.

The Nuthatches overcame social and physical challenges on Monday and everyone stuck together, making it a day for lots of learning!


On Tuesday, Rey, Jamie, Eli and the Nuthatches spent the day at camp. Rey, who usually is with the Chickadees, was able to meet the Nuthatches for the first time! During the day, the Nuthatches decided to gather a basket of dandelions and flowers for the Chickadees and sneak down to Trillium camp to give to them. Eli lead the Nuthatches and they showed some impressive awareness for going undetected in the woods. The Chickadees were excited to receive their gift!

Later, Eli set up “throwing sticks” and the Nuthatches played, showing improvement for aim and hitting their targets. At slunch, Eli and Rey read from the book The Boy Who Lived with Bears and Other Iroquois Stories, told Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Murv Jacob, and at the end of the day, the Nuthatches made a giant mud cake for a Nuthatch birthday that day!


On Wednesday, Jamie, Eli, Astrid, Nani and the Nuthatches spent time the day at camp, playing the camouflage game first thing in the morning. Some of the Nuthatches found such sneaky spots and practiced being completely still, nobody was able to find them!

After playing camouflage, the Nuthatches helped Eli map out an obstacle course for the Chickadees. The Nuthatches showed creativity and attentiveness helping with the map. Listening was also a huge positive that day!

At slunch, we read the Pawnee story of “The Bear Man” from the book The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales, by Josepeh and James Bruchac, illustrated by Stefano Vitale.

On Thursday, Rey, Eli, Jamie and the Nuthatches spent the day out at camp with the big goal of finishing up the obstacle course! Once to camp, we had some free play and began creating the course. The course consisted of rope spider webs, logs to jump over, a lava mountain and an old, wise, wizardy guy at the end with nature questions to ask (as seen above.) The Nuthatches were excited to gift the Chickadees with this course and showed them how to do it! Next week, the Nuthatches will be able to do the one the Chickadees made for them.

At slunch, Rey told an awesome rendition of the stories Finn McCool and Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed. A action packed and fun filled week indeed, and the Nuthatches showed real improvement throughout the week on playing together and listening.


Week 5: Nuthatches, robins and more

Week 5: Nuthatches, robins and more

The Nuthatches enjoy playing the “all in” game, where an instructor sneaks away and hides before calling “ALL IN NUTHATCHES!” The Nuthatches do a great job tracking where the call is coming from.

Our theme for week 5 focused on robins, while giving space to free play, creek play, games and stories!

On Monday, instructors Ariadne, Edie, Jamie and Nora joined the Nuthatches for a fun and chilly morning. The Nuthatches showed they are getting the hang of opening circle by being present and participating in the Robin Song. In coordination with the robin theme of the week, the Nuthatches were able to tell each other the colors of robins and we all practiced the ways that a robin looks and listens for worms in the soil.

Once we got to camp, Nora snuck away to play the “all in” game. The Nuthatches soon learned that if they quieted their voices, they could hear where the “all in Nuthatches” calls were coming from. The Nuthatches used their deer ears to track the calls and eventually found Nora hidden at the edge of the forest, per the photo above. Next Ariadne and Jamie snuck away to play “all in” and by the end of it, the Nuthatches were getting the hang of it – they’re some great trackers when they put their mind and senses to it.

After playing “all in,” the Nuthatches helped gather firewood to give as a gift to the Chickadee flock. Ariadne and Edie snuck down to the Chickadee camp with the Nuthatches to surprise the Chickadee flock with the gift! Afterwards, the Nuthatches formed several fun and respectful play partnerships with each other and were even seen building some fairy-style houses.

At slunch, Nora shared more tales from the Fine Words Fox story about how to use our fine words when we want to communicate a need or request. After slunch, one of the Nuthatches led us in a tick scan before a round of gratitude at closing circle.

On Wednesday, instructors Ariadne, Astrid, Nora and Jamie met the Nuthatches with temperatures in that got into the 70’s in the afternoon. The Nuthatches had another great opening circle. We sang the Robin Song, talked about the three respects and the Nuthatches shared what they remembered about robins – characteristics like the reddish/brown/orange bellies and where they like to hang out.

Next, came creek play!

Creek play involved jumping around, finding out how skunk cabbage got its name, and making some rafts out of tree bark. We easily could’ve spent the whole day there but worked up quite an appetite for slunchtime. During slunch, Nora read the book “We are the Water Protectors,” by Carole Lindstrom that one of the Nuthatches brought to share. The book lead to some rich conversations about protecting the environment and indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Nuthatches had some fun with free play and were seen waving to the Chickadees from the bouncy log. Toward the end of the day, some of the Nuthatches spotted a gray tree frog sitting inconspicuously on a branch where many were playing. We all took turns looking at the frog while also being respectful of their space. Some other sightings we noticed that day were spiders, a toad and robins! Can you spot the tree frog in the photo below?

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.

Office Location:
Cornell Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave., Ithaca, NY 14850
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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.