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! 

Week 8 Chickadees: Fairies and Fun!

Week 8 Chickadees: Fairies and Fun!

Summer-like weather, a mysterious note from the forest fairies, and a party — this sure was fun week at preschool!


The Chickadees were greeted by a bright blue sky, warm sunshine, and hundreds of fluffy dandelion heads as they arrived at 4-H Acres on Monday morning. Many children enjoyed kicking the “wish flowers’ ‘ as they walked over to the red oak tree to drop off their backpacks, watching the small seeds fly off into the air. In Opening Circle, the Chickadees sang “I Thank the Earth,” with Nora, who had taught them this song last week. As they sang they looked at the Earth around them, the tall white pine tree and the large red oak tree, they felt the cool air around them and listened for the creek below the hill. After they were finished singing, it was time to learn why the instructors had asked them each to carry wood cookies over to the log circle. Sarah demonstrated sharing something she was grateful for from the land before putting her wood cookie on the ground. Each child got a turn to share their gratitude and put their wood cookie on top of the other until…they had made a tower of gratitudes that was only a little shorter than most of the children! The Chickadees decided it would be fun to knock it over so they all got on the same side, put one hand on the gratitude tower and on the count of three pushed it over!

The flock flew down to camp and when they stopped at the top of the bridge and were asked “what’s growing” the answer was “leaves!” Last Thursday, the Chickadees pointed out that it was getting hard to see the Nuthatch camp on the other hillside because of the growing tree leaves and today it was nearly impossible because the leaves had grown so much. They also pointed out the skunk cabbage, whose leaves are almost the size of some of the Chickadees! After hanging up their backpacks, the children climbed the hill (they’re getting so good at this!) and ran down the path towards the Horsey Log. Once there, they remembered something — our obstacle course from last week! The children went through the hula-hoops, the tunnel, up the secret staircase and through the spider web. It was so much fun and they were so excited for the Nuthatches to try it out, which they did later that day.

After slunch, some children spent their time in the creek looking for aquatic animals under rocks. Others smashed up charcoal from our fire pit using rocks and sticks and added some water to make charcoal face paint. And the rest noticed cracks in the Earth around Trillium Camp and alerted the rest of the flock that there was lava coming out of them! This group worked hard to control the flow of lava so it wouldn’t take over our whole camp.

They ended their day by making a big pot of gratitude soup! The “soup” sat in the middle of their circle and each child had to throw their gratitude into it and then together we stirred it in. The Chickadees were grateful for all kinds of wonderful things — the sunshine, playing with family members, worms (of course!) and each other!





“The lava monster is coming!” the Chickadees screamed while running down the hill to Trillium Camp. On Tuesday morning, Nora had turned into a being that was made of nothing but hot, hot lava! The children ran away from her but soon discovered that they had a special skill that could be used to cool down the lava monster. “Water power!” they yelled while holding their hands up in a “stop” motion. At first, the Chickadees weren’t sure if their water power was strong enough to cool down the powerful lava monster, but they discovered their powers were stronger if they worked as a team, so together they shouted “WATER POWER!” and just like that the lava monster turned into a rock! The Chickadees snuck over to what appeared to be a sleeping Nora, who instructed them to rub their hands together and when they felt the heat in their palms from the friction, to throw it at her to awaken the lava monster. The Chickadees did just that and the lava monster was awake! However, there was something different about her. The lava monster’s eyes weren’t working so the children had to help her navigate her way back to camp, over sticks and rocks, and through some hula hoops that were a part of the obstacle course. Once in Trillium Camp, the lava monster requested some healing leaves to help her eyes. The children went out in search of some special leaves and brought them back to the lava monster who then turned back into Nora!

At slunch time, the Chickadees heard a story about the wild children who live in a forest very similar to Trillium Camp. One day while going to play in the creek, the wild children noticed a note written on a piece of birch bark nearby. It read — Dear Wild Children, Please help us! A giant destroyed our village. Can you help us rebuild it? This note was signed by the forest fairies! The wild children got to work rebuilding the fairies’ homes and while doing so they noticed that the little “umbrella” plants, also known as mayapples, that the wild children sometimes liked to pick were where the fairies liked to live. The wild children started to realize that they were the giants; they were the ones that had accidently destroyed the fairies’ homes! They felt awful and made sure to build the most awesome fairy village ever with acorn cap pools for them to swim in, stone paths, an elevator for when their wings got tired, and all kinds of special things as a way of saying sorry to the fairies. When the sun set and the wild children had gone to sleep, the fairies came out and were so happy to see a brand new village for them to explore and live in. The fairies gave each of the wild children a stone with magic powers to say thank you!

When slunch time was over, some children played in the creek while others worked on some face paint with Barbara Ann, who the Chickadees were so happy to welcome back to the flock for the day! One of the children noticed a strange piece of paper on a nearby rock. The Chickadees gathered around while we read it and learned that it was the same note from the story! The children got to work right away on a fairy village and picked a shaded spot next to the creek to build. Barbara Ann helped them paint signs for the village and Nora even made a fairy-sized elevator!

The day ended sooner than everyone would have liked! The flock said goodbye to the animals they had collected in the terrarium, swept the pavilion, put away the pots and pans and gathered in the log circle for gratitude and celebration for a magical spring day!



The sun is shining, shining, shining 

The sun is shining down on the land 

The trees are growing, growing, growing 

The trees are growing tall and grand 

The children sang The Sun is Shining by Melissa Blake in Wednesday’s Opening Circle while practicing the movements that go along with it. When singing “the sun is shining” the Chickadees reached their ups up and outward toward the sky. When they sang “down on the land” they brought their hands down to touch the Earth and when they sang “the trees are growing, growing, growing” they slowly stood up until they were upright with their arms outstretched again. Afterwards they made another gratitude tower and  knocked it over together. 

The flock got right to work on their fairy village, using a rake to clear away leaves and building pools for the fairies to swim in near the creek! Some Chickadees were busy making an awesome terrarium for the toads, salamanders and giant leopard slug they had found earlier. They added mud, dead leaves and rocks to make a comfy and safe home for these special creatures until it was time to say goodbye to them at the end of the day.

At slunch, Nora and the children played a fun game where each person picked an animal but kept it a secret. When Nora said something true about your animal, you had to take a sip of water. “Take a sip of water if your animal has fur all over its body,” Nora said while some of the Chickadees drank their water. At the end of the game everyone revealed what animal they were!

As the group was finishing up slunch, some of the Chickadees turned into fierce dinosaurs that were stomping around camp looking for something to eat. They chased Chloe and Peter up the Climbing Hill and to the Horsey Log where they decided to go and explore the nearby meadow. The grass was tall and some of the Chickadees hid in the long grass and peered out, waiting for the others to find them. The children also practiced balancing on a fallen aspen tree and played on the Nuthatches’ teeter-totter. It was so much fun that when it was time to sing The Day is Done, many of us didn’t want to leave. But alas, it was time to head back to Trillium Camp where the Chickadees threw their gratitudes up into the sky, put on their backpacks and headed back to the big red oak tree.


Thursday brought more sunshine, blue skies and a PARTY! The Chickadees had earned their fourth star on Wednesday and were excited to learn in Opening Circle that they weren’t just going to have one party, but two mini parties — one on Thursday and one this coming Monday! The fun started with a song share with instruments. The children sang all of their favorite songs — Jingle Bells (the Chickadee flock has been singing this since November 1st!), the Halloween song and Nora’s silly beaver song! We banged on the drum, hit sticks against rocks and logs, clapped our hands and danced before heading down the Trillium Camp.

While waiting at the top of the bridge, the children pointed out everything that was growing — moss on the pavilion and the huge skunk cabbage growing near the creek. They also noticed that the water in the creek was low and realized that it hadn’t rained in a few days and it was hot! The Chickadees learned that because today was a party day, the creek would be open for the entire day! They excitedly hung up their backpacks and headed to the water, but something was different. They walked upstream and noticed sawdust in piles on the rocks in the creek and large stumps near their fairy village. Hmmm, what happened here? After some more careful observation, the children realized the large oak tree that used to lay across the creek was gone! But who had done this? “Do you think it was the fairies?” Sarah asked. “No! It was the eat-a-munchers!” several children replied. The “eat-a-munchers” are mythical creatures that the Chickadees created in the fall. From what the instructors have gathered, eat-a-munchers eat soup made from creek water and dead leaves and wood, hence why it seemed likely that the eat-a-munchers were the ones that had removed the fallen tree.

With that mystery solved, the Chickadees explored upstream and found fossils, deep puddles of water with tiny aquatic animals swimming in them, and large logs to climb on. The kept walking until they reached a path and followed it up to the Horsey Log, where they practiced their scouting skills and walked so quietly past the oldest Homeschool group that we don’t think many of them saw us!

It was time for slunch! Nora built a smoky fire to keep the mosquitos and other biting bugs away, while the children shared some jokes. One that got a lot of us laughing was “Knock! Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Fox in a tree!” “Fox in a tree who?” “Fox in a tree who is actually stuck and wants to climb inside the tree!” The Chickadees are such a silly bunch and love to make each other laugh!

We spent the rest of the day playing in the creek, catching baby crawfish and building an awesome terrarium for the many toads we found. The day ended with one more surprise — Eli! Eli joined the Chickadees during check-out and brought a water jug that he chased us around with and poured on us. It was so much fun and a great way to cool off after a hot day!


Thank you for reading! 

Weeks 5-7 Recap, Chickadees: Spring has Sprung!

Weeks 5-7 Recap, Chickadees: Spring has Sprung!

Rainy days, mud puddles, baby plants and animals — the Chickadees welcomed spring with big smiles, laughter and excitement for all the change still to come in our wooded world. Below you will find some highlights from the past few weeks as well as a special surprise at the end! 

Week 5

This week the Chickadees transformed into bigger birds with dark gray feathers on their backs and reddish orange on their bellies. The children and this mystery bird also share something in common — they both love to find worms, although the preschoolers don’t eat them like this animal does! Any guesses as to who this bird may be?


I’m a little robin skipping cross the lawn 

Picking up worms and singing my song

Cheer up cheerily, cheerily cheer up 

I’m a little robin skipping cross the lawn 

Verse 1:

If I don’t get a worm then I don’t care 

Spread my wings and take to the air 

One less burden that I have to carry 

I can still fly, I can still be merry 

The Chickadees learned the “Robin Song” by Shep Chieco, a former Primitive Pursuits instructor, throughout the week and practiced flapping their wings, hopping and listening for worms just like robins while singing along. When they got to camp one day, they noticed something strange: brightly colored worms (that were actually plastic snakes we had used for an “owl eye walk” in the winter) hidden throughout Trillium Camp! The robins had to collect all of the worms and bring them back to their nest without getting caught by the hawks. Later on, the nest became filled with hungry hatchlings who kept saying “Feed me! Feed me!” until all of the worms had been found.

In the mornings during check-in, the children enjoyed picking dandelions in the field and carrying their harvest around in baskets. But what can we do with all these dandelions? The Chickadees brought their baskets over to the picnic tables where they learned that you can color with dandelions! They took the yellow dandelion heads and rubbed them on pieces of paper to draw suns, flowers, cheetahs and all kinds of things! Nora also showed the children how to make dandelion bracelets and necklaces that they wore throughout the day — there is so much you can do with this lovely plant!

During Opening Circles this week, the Chickadees learned that if they were good listeners (just like robins!), then they’d get a “star” for the day; four stars and they get to have a party! When asked what they wanted to have at their party, the Chickadees said, “cake, balloons, presents, decorations!” While the flock didn’t get to 4 stars this week, they did see the mink again! While waiting at the trailhead for everyone to get their backpacks on, the flock noticed a small animal with dark brown fur running along the side of the creek. Several children called out “mink!” while we watched it disappear into the forest.

Week 6

This week the Chickadees learned more about the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, the Haudenosaunee and other native groups from around the country and world! Each morning, the instructors start the day with a land acknowledgment to bring awareness to the orginal stewards of this place we get to play, learn and grow on. This week, the instructors asked the the children to give the land acknowledgments and they had wonderful things to say — “Thank you Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’! Thank you!”

At slunch one day, Sarah read from a book called The Boy Who Lived With Bears and Other Iroquois Stories told by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Murv Jacob. The story she read was called Rabbit’s Snow Dance and was about a rabbit that made it snow even though it was spring by dancing and singing a song. It snowed so much that the rabbit got stuck in a tree when it had all melted while he was taking a nap! After slunch while on a wander, something magical happened! The Chickadees noticed something white and fluffy falling from the sky — could it be snow, just like the story? The children picked up the fluff that was covering the ground and discussed what it could be. Some were convinced it was snow while others said it reminded them of the soft heads of “wish flowers.”

This week Nora taught the flock a new song called “I Thank the Earth.” Nora also showed us how to sign “thank you” in American Sign Language, which we did while singing the song!

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 

On Thursday the Chickadees were very excited to learn that they had made it to four stars which meant it was time for a party! The children started their day by filling up a tarp and a wheelbarrow with leaves from the picnic table area and pushed them over the hill along the path to Trillium Camp. The Chickadees loved jumping in the leaves and throwing them in the air — it felt like it was fall again! This was so much fun that it was hard to stop but Rey had something very special to reveal to us in Opening Circle: a mysterious map she had found hiding in the leaves! There was an “x” that marked where the treasure was hidden. The children rushed down to camp to drop off their backpacks and they headed out on an epic adventure that took them to Trillium North, up the secret staircase, down a hill, up another hill and finally to the front field where they discovered a large “x” made out of sticks on the ground in front of the white pine tree. The Chickadees looked around — here was the “x” but where was the treasure? They quickly spotted a pot tucked between the two trunks of the tall white pine. Nora took down the pot and showed the flock what was inside — cups, a strainer, a spoon, honey and party decorations — what were they going to make? “Tea!” some of the children yelled. They helped Nora and Sarah harvest needles from the white pine tree and learned that this tree is a special symbol of peace to the Haudenosaunee. Before they left, the children sang the “Gratitude Song” written by Melissa Blake. This song can be adapated to whatever you want to give thanks to — worms, flowers, the sun, anything! 

White pine, oh white pine 

We love you

We offer you thanks for all you do 

So please, please, please grow! 

They were greeted by a warm fire that Rey had made while the Chickadees were on their adventure. They were so excited to tell Rey about what they had found and to make some white pine tea, which they heated up over the fire while eating slunch.


Week 7

There was so much to talk about with last week’s theme that we decided to continue it into this week! The children continued to listen to stories at slunch time from The Boy Who Lived with Bears and The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Tales by Joseph and James Bruchac, illustrated by Stefano Vitale. In Opening Circle, Nora showed the Chickadees a bowl that had been made using the coals of a fire! She explained that many different people use this technique to make things, including canoes! At slunch, Sarah talked about when she lived in New Zealand and about how the Māori traveled there from other islands on canoes called “wakas.” She also told them about the time she was invited to a wharenui, a “big house” where Māori gather for special events.

Later in the week, the Chickadees started working on an obstacle course for the Nuthatches! They worked together to build a “spider web” made out of rope for them to climb through, a tunnel for the Nuthatches to crawl through and hula-hoops for them to jump through! Little did they know, while they were busy making an obstacle course for the Nuthatches, they were making one for us! On Thursday after slunch, the Nuthatches presented us with an amazing map outlining each obstacle and where to go. We started on their teeter-totter, which we had to carefully balance on as we walked across. Next up were ropes that the Chickadees had to go over or under, and then a throwing stick challenge! At the end of their path was a mysterious figure wrapped in a tarp. Many of the children suspected that this was Eli just “being silly,” but the mysterious being assured us that he was the “cloaked man” who was going to give us lava-proof powers so we could slide down the volcano, which looked a lot like our climbing hill! The Chickadees slid down the hill and said thank you and goodbye to the Nuthatches — what a fun day and week!



For those of you that don’t know Hannah, she worked with Ithaca Forest Preschool this fall and winter and is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail! Scroll through the gallery below to see pictures she shared with the Chickadees and read the captions to learn where each photo was taken. We miss you Hannah and wish you luck on your great adventure! 

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

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 2 Chickadees: Signs of Spring and Bird Wings

Week 2 Chickadees: Signs of Spring and Bird Wings

This week the Chickadees experienced all kinds of weather — warm sunshine, blue skies and even snow!


“Chickadee-dee-dee-dee” went the Chickadee flock on Monday morning in Opening Circle. The children showed Ian, a winter Nuthatch instructor who was joining us for the day, how well they can mimic a chickadee alarm call. Ian surprised them with a call of his own that sounded like this (click on the first recording). He explained that this is a call male chickadees make to tell everyone where their space is. The children practiced making this call and then flew to their backpacks and headed down to Trillium Camp.

“What’s growing?” the children were asked while stopped at the top of the bridge. The Chickadees pointed to sprouting tree buds, green moss on the roof of the pavilion and some plants starting to grow in our forest garden. After hanging up backpacks it was time for the Daily Check. While some children helped record the temperature and the color of the sky, others went on an epic hunt for worms! While looking under almost every log and rock in camp, the Chickadees found a lot of worms but they also found a sleepy salamander!

At slunch time, the flock gathered in the log circle and did a tick scan, looking over their clothes for a small arachnid with 8 legs. When the tick scan was complete and everyone had taken at least one sip of water, the children learned they had unlocked a story — a story about a group of wild children who lived in a magical forest! Strange things happen in this forest and one day while eating some food in their camp, the wild children suddenly turned into small birds with black feathers on their heads, white feathers on their cheeks and gray wings — “a black-capped chickadee!” the preschoolers yelled. The wild children, who were now chickadees, realized that they could speak bird language and fly! They flew through the air while practicing their calls and songs and they enjoyed seeing their forested home from a new perspective. But then, a sudden gust of wind came rushing through the trees! The small birds took shelter on the branches of a big white pine tree and waited for the wind to pass. After it had, they flew out into the brilliant early spring day again. But here came another gust of wind! The chickadees rushed back to the white pine and waited again. This happened several more times and the chickadees realized it was like they were playing hide-and-go-seek with the wind! After playing a few more rounds of that, they grew hungry and flew back down to their camp to finish the food they had been eating before they turned into chickadees. To their surprise, their food (which had consisted of “cheese sticks, crackers, cookies and oranges”) had turned into seeds, insects and berries! The chickadees didn’t mind! They gobbled them up and then…found themselves as wild children once again!

Like the wild children, the preschoolers transformed into chickadees after slunch and had to hide from the wind! Ian, who had turned into a strong wind storm, walked through camp while the chickadees searched for places they’d find shelter from the powerful gusts (behind trees, on the other side of the woodbox, behind the pavilion).

The day is done, the day is done! The chickadees turned back into children and gathered in the log circle where Peter played a song on his guitar and they played along with their own instruments.


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The Chickadee flock was excited to welcome Rey on Tuesday! Rey will be joining us on Tuesdays and Thursdays this spring and will also be here for summer camp. During arrival, the children got to meet her while helping create a shared work of art. A long piece of paper was laid across one of the picnic tables with markers, crayons and animal track stamps around it.

All-In Chickadees! The flock flew to the morning circle where they learned a new song called “The Chickadee Song” by Annie Nixon.

Chickadee, chickadee-dee-dee 

Sing with me 

Sing with me, me, me 

Sitting on the branch of a big pine tree 

Calling out to the morning there’s a chickadee!

The children sang this song while flapping their arms like wings and then flew to the red oak tree to gather their backpacks and head down to camp. Once in Trillium Camp, the Chickadees got an idea! They walked together to a part of their camp called “Trillium North” and hid behind some large logs. When everyone was hidden they gave a loud “chickadee-dee-dee” call and waited. They did it again and again and suddenly Rey found them! She had been back in the main part of camp and used the “chickadee-dee-dee” call to find us! Afterwards, the children showed her the horsey log and spent some time bouncing and traveling to far away lands.

After slunch and hearing the tale of the wild children who turned into chickadees again, the flock spent the rest of their day playing in the creek and enjoying the warm sun!



On Wednesday the Chickadees welcomed another special person — Edie! The children were so excited to see Edie and had so much fun playing imaginative child-led games with her during arrival (there was a cyclone coming and they had to escape it!). The Chickadees discovered that they had a mystery to solve when they arrived in Opening Circle! Sarah played this sound (click on the first recording) while the children listened and shared their guesses. Next, they saw a picture of a small bird that makes the sound they had just heard. Like the black-capped chickadee, this bird also has black feathers on the top of its head. The children correctly guessed this bird is a white-breasted nuthatch! While practicing the nuthatch call, the children noticed that it sounds a lot like laughter! The next time the Chickadees see the Nuthatches, we’ll have to say hello to them using their call!

For those of you that don’t know, Nora is a magical storyteller. She paints amazing pictures with her words and captures the attention of children and instructors alike when she tells stories! At slunch on Wednesday, Nora told us the Greek tale of Narcissus and how, after falling in love with his reflection, he was turned into a daffodil (we had spotted some daffodils on Tuesday which prompted the telling of this story). The children quietly listened and really enjoyed when they got to participate in the story, especially when they got to shout “ECHO!”

Some rain came our way towards the end of the day, but that didn’t stop the Chickadees from playing in the creek and making a big pot of “soup!” When it was time to share our gratitudes from the day, Nora asked the children to spell “R-A-I-N” after each person shared and together we shouted “rain!”




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And then that rain turned into snow! The Chickadees were greeted by a thin layer of fluffy, white snow on Thursday morning. Underneath that wet snow was squishy, slippery mud! The flock spent the morning making snowballs and using them to make faces on trees. Rey was helping some children color on another large piece of paper and showed them how you can rub snow on the markers to make colorful snow — it was so cool!

When the children arrived in Trillium Camp, some helped Sarah with the Daily Check (we recorded a big change in temperature!) and others climbed up and down the Climbing Hill with Eli and Rey. After slunch, many children were feeling cold so the flock decided to get head inside of the rest of the day. The transition from warm, spring sunshine to winter-like weather was challenging for the children and instructors!

While the Chickadees love to be outside, they still had a lot of fun indoors! After taking off of their muddy outer layers, the children read books, colored and played hide-and-go-seek. It was an exciting ending to our second week of the spring. While it was nice to see some snow again, we are hoping for warmer weather when we come back from the break!


Thank you so much for reading! We hope you have a great spring break and we’ll see you soon!

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.