What a wild ride this weather has been.  Warm, cold, snow, rain, wind, and sun! The kids have been making some strong friendships. It is so much fun to watch them bloom. There have been so many games of family and different animals.

This past week we learned about birds. On Monday and Tuesday we went on a wander to fill up a bird feeder near another camp that the homeschool kids use and to see if any seeds had been eaten yet. We learned some bird songs and practiced the chickadee, cardinal, and blue jays calls. We also learned the Gayogohó:nǫˀ word for sandpiper which is Duwisduwi. We had a lot of fun saying that name as it also mimics the sound the bird makes. Duwisduwi is also one of the six clan names of the Gayogohó:nǫˀ people. When the children learned that the song birds who don’t fly south have to forage for food all winter, they were excited to make bird feeders and provide some food for them. On Wednesday and Thursday we made bird feeders with pine cones, peanut butter and birdseed. Many of the children took home bird feeders and we also hung up several around Trillium Camp. We hope we will get to see some birds snacking while we are there some days.

Last week we focused on trees and learned how to tell the difference between Maple and Sycamore leaves. We also made White Pine tea. The children love harvesting White Pine needles.  I’m looking forward to more adventures in the forest this fall and making observations at our bird feeders in the weeks ahead. 

Pumpkins and Dress up time!

Pumpkins and Dress up time!

We had so much fun this week with pumpkins! When we arrived to Trillium Camp on Monday we found a large pumpkin waiting for us. The children were very excited to find this surprise. We cut open our pumpkin and removed the seeds. The kids worked very hard to get them all out. On Tuesday and Wednesday we hammered pieces of the meat of the pumpkin to boards to make feeders for the animals. We placed them around camp so we can make observations of what might like to eat it. So far we saw ants and slugs enjoying them. We hope to see some teeth marks of larger animals too eventually. We also spotted a large toad while placing our feeders! On Thursday we roasted our seeds and alomst everyone loved them.

We also got out the costume box on Monday and Thursday and the children had a lot of fun becoming different animals and people. Many became owls. We also had a pizza maker, a parent, a fairy or two, and a few horses.

Another amazing thing that happed this week was that Trillium camp flooded on Tueday night. The children loved playing in the puddles and mud all week. On Thursday we gathered sand and brought it down to fill a big hole left by the raging water.

Autumn Harvest

Autumn Harvest

So far this fall we have been focusing on getting to know each other, establishing ground rules and noticing all the abundance that this time of year has to offer! One of our first harvesting activities was to make sun tea with sumac, goldenrod, and white pine needles. It was delicious and the kids loved learning about the plants and the process of making the tea. The next week we roasted apples over the fire. Every time we build a fire the kids love it. They help gather fire wood and wispies to start the fires. They sing the fire sing with us to get it going:


Burn fire, burn
Stoke your inner fire
Let the smoke inside you rise
Blow that flame to life
We tell lots of stories at “slunch time”. Some days they ask for more and more stories.  One day last week all the kids listened intently for 45 minutes to several stories! 
One of the stories we have told is the peace superhero story. This story was inspired by the  Hodinöhsö:ni’ peace make story and features  Fine Words Fox, Feel Better Butterfly, Peaceful Porcupine, Unity Unicorn, and Shadow tail (the helper squirrel). We have peace stones that the peace superheros left at camp for us to use to help us resolve conflict. The kids love the peace superheroes. 

Of course we have played a lot of running games, and a lot of fun imagination games in the sandbox and creek. We have found many toads, had visits from chipmunks, and caught crayfish in the creek.

 This past week we met the shagbark hickory tree and learned to identify it and it’s nuts.  We also smashed hickory nuts in our large smasher then boiled them in a gallon of water over the fire.  After straining out the nut meat and shells, we enjoyed our hickory nut milk. On a wonder to meet Grandmother Hickory the kids asked why this tree had a name.  We talked about how much bigger this tree is than all the other hickory trees around and how the seeds that grew the smaller trees had likely come from the Grandmother tree. We then measured around her trunk and found it took one instructor and three children holding hands to reach around her trunk. This spurred all the children to start measuring around the other hickory trees and deciding who was mom, brother, baby, etc.

We have also been singing the I thank the earth song a lot:

I thank the earth for feeding my body
I thank the sun for warming my bones
I thank the trees for the air that I breathe, and
I thank the water for nourishing my soul

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.