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 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 2 Nuthatches, Monday and Wednesday

Week 2 Nuthatches, Monday and Wednesday

This week, we embodied how nuthatches live, had lots of fun and tapped into our senses!

We had a lot of energy this week that allowed us to play and learn as nuthatch birds might in the wild! We also had a special guest and tapped into lots of creativity and nature sensing skills.

On Monday, the Nuthatches gathered under cloudy skies in windy and chilly weather. Jamie brought out the weather chart and had some help from the Nuthatches to record the look of sky, chance of rain, and temperature. Afterwards, we gathered in opening circle. Nora showed us how to sing the Chickadee flock’s song and Jamie facilitated a conversation on our bird of the week: nuthatches!

We talked about their white, black, and blue/gray colors and their bird call, which some of us thought sounded like a unique little bird laugh. The Nuthatches also found it interesting how the birds are often seen upside down, searching for seeds and insects – something we may try to imitate in the future!

When we got to camp, we directed our excited energy into playing a life-size nest making game. The Nuthatches showed creativity in the materials and locations of the nests and worked together as teams. Afterwards, the Nuthatches visited the other nests and shared feedback about what they liked and noticed about the nests.

After slunch, with the sun coming out, we went to meet a surprise guest in the front field. The Nuthatches were excited to see that it was Elisabeth from the fall session! Elisabeth was thoughtful and brought a “bird food” snack of seeds and dried fruit for all the hungry Nuthatches! Naturally, everyone started to peck at their food in true nuthatch fashion. We finished our day listening to Elisabeth tell a story about a nuthatch and a friendly turtle that shared a message that one can always be safe and secure within themselves, no matter their environment.

On Wednesday morning, the Nuthatches gathered to find that Nani had a stink bug on her hand! We observed the bug and the Nuthatches looked at the bug’s characteristics and where they get their name from. A couple Nuthatches also noticed some wild garlic mustard growing, an exciting sign of spring! With permission and supervision, they tasted some while practicing sustainable harvesting.

In morning circle, Nora initiated a conversation and land acknowledgement of the traditional lands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ, the indigenous peoples of this region. We hope to continue land acknowledgements and explore together what it means to be good stewards of the land. The Nuthatches helped finish opening circle by teaching Jamie the “birdie song,” which is definitely one of their favorites!

When we got to camp, Nora invited the Nuthatches to play a game called “Hawks and Nuthatches.” The Nuthatches used their sensory awareness to evade hawks, a role the instructors played, while looking for pinecones to bring back to their nests. The Nuthatches sure are fast and clever and the hawks definitely got their workout for the day.


At slunch, Nora built us a nice fire while Nani offered help to any Nuthatches needing an extra hand. Jamie read the book “No Two Alike,” by Keith Baker that everyone seemed to enjoy.

The Nuthatches ended the day playing a game called “otter steals fish.” The Nuthatches got really creative while using sensory techniques like fox-walking and owl-eyes to play the game. We ended the day with gratitude and learned a new song about doing a tick scan! One of the Nuthatches even led the rest of the flock in how to do a proper tick scan.

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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.