Week 6 Chickadees, Tuesday & Thursday: Wild Weasels!

Week 6 Chickadees, Tuesday & Thursday: Wild Weasels!

Ernie the Ermine, quickly-evolving porcupines and a hidden treat. Week 6 sure was a wild one for the Chickadees!

TUESDAY

“This animal has five toes on both its front and hind feet. It’s a member of the weasel family and is related to otters and minks. It has a long body with short legs and dark brown fur. And it’s one of the few animals that eats porcupines.” The children listened as Sarah walked around the log circle on Tuesday morning showing them a picture of a five-toed track. Afterwards everyone transformed into this elusive animal and practiced walking on all fours through the thick, deep snow. Eli led the flock to the white pine tree where they pretended to climb it because this mysterious animal can also climb trees! The Chickadees enjoyed spending time as this animal but it was time to transform back into Chickadees and fly down to camp.

At the top of the bridge, the children called out what they noticed had changed since last week — there was more snow on the creek, more snow on the roof of the pavilion, more snow everywhere! The Chickadees used the plentiful snow to their advantage and opened up a bakery where they specialized in snow cakes, snow cupcakes, snow bread and even snow pizza!

The children adventured up the Climbing Hill and used slider sleds to slide down the hill. It was so much fun that even the instructors had to try it! The sleds made a smooth path down the hill and some Chickadees discovered that they didn’t even need a sled to move down the hill — they could slide on their bellies! They zoomed down the hill, just like some of the relatives of this week’s mystery animal!

 “It’s slunch time! It’s slunch time! It’s time to eat our slunch,” Hannah, Eli and Sarah sang. The children lined up to wash their hands, grabbed their packs and headed to the snow-covered log circle where blue pads waited for them to sit on and help keep them warm as they sat and ate their food. Sarah told a story about a special animal she saw over the weekend. She was getting ready to go snowshoeing in Monkey Run when she looked out her window and saw an animal with gray fur on its back, white fur on the sides of its face and pointed ears. It was difficult for her to tell what it was so she got out her binoculars and saw that it was a gray fox! And not just one gray fox, but two! Sarah watched them for about an hour and noticed that they kept disappearing into the side of a nearby hill. “Where do you think they were going?” she asked the Chickadees. Sarah has seen the gray foxes almost every day since and is hoping they stick around!

After slunch, the children transformed yet again into an animal that also climbs trees but has quills all over its back — porcupines! Hannah and Sarah pretended to be fishers, a kind of weasel with five toes and dark fur that likes to eat porcupines (sound familiar?). The children hid behind trees and practiced being quiet so the fishers wouldn’t find them. If they made a sound, the fishers could start chasing them but the porcupines could protect themselves by turning their backs and showing their quills. Eventually, the porcupines started chasing the fishers and they even evolved to “throw” their quills like arrows and eat the fishers! It was a silly and fun game that made everyone laugh!

THURSDAY

The Hemlock Grove, the Hemlock Grove 

Where trees stay green all through the winter 

The swamp will freeze and we’ll find the fisher 

Climbing over fallen trees 

The Chickadees sang this song in Thursday morning’s opening circle to unlock the mystery that was hidden behind Sarah’s notebook. After singing “The Hemlock Grove” written by Felicity Holmes (a former Ithaca College intern), Sarah revealed a small animal with a long body, very short legs and white fur everywhere except for a tuft of dark brown fur on its tail. “Is it a baby bear?” asked one Chickadee. “Is it a mouse?” said another. This animal was actually an ermine, a small member of the weasel family! Hillary-Joy, the Homeschool instructor who shared her fox bone collection and fox hide with Ithaca Forest Preschool a few weeks ago, let the Chickadee flock borrow it. She said that the taxidermy ermine was named Ernie. The children each got a chance to feel Ernie’s soft fur, and they noticed that you could see its sharp teeth and whiskers. Hannah explained that, like fishers, ermines are carnivores and need sharp teeth to eat their prey. Thank you Hillary-Joy for sharing Ernie with us!

The Chickadees traveled down the path Eli had made earlier in the week using his snowshoes. They stopped at the top of the bridge, shared their observations about what had changed and were about to walk down the bridge when Nora revealed she had a surprise for them! “You will find it near something dead. You might feel leaves on your face. If there weren’t so much snow, you would be able to hear the creek from where it’s hidden.” The children rushed down the bridge and hung up their backpacks, eager to find this hidden surprise. Several children noticed the two trees that lay dead over the creek — one upstream and one downstream. They decided to check the fallen oak upstream with leaves still on some of its branches. They climbed over part of its trunk and saw something buried in the snow — a pot! Nora helped them carry it to a place where everyone could see what was inside. She pulled out green cups, a strainer and honey. What do you think the Chickadees are going to make?

If you guessed tea, you were right! The Chickadees separated into two groups. A small group stayed in Trillium Camp with Nora where they took turns pulling each other on the orange sled. One child even pulled Nora all by himself! They also did some climbing and sliding on the hill. The second group, with Hannah and Sarah, made their way to the front field in search of a special tree. “White pines have five needles that grow in a cluster,” Hannah explained. She held up a pine needle cluster and the children counted to five together. Sarah added that the white pine tree is a symbol of peace to the Haudenosaunee.

The Chickadees led the way to the large white pine tree that grows in the front field. Its branches were heavy from snow and Hannah gently shook them and the children watched as snow rained down on their heads. They had brought along two baskets and proceeded to fill them up with needles from the tree to flavor their tea.

White pine, oh white pine 

We love you 

We offer you thanks for all you do 

So please, please, please, grow 

Sarah shared that it’s nice to thank the plant you’re harvesting from. “This ‘thank you’ can look however you want it to look. You can say ‘thank you, tree.’ You can sing to the tree. You can do anything!” She taught them the song above that was taught to her by Melissa Blake. The children shared other things they wanted to say ‘thank you’ to — snow, the sun, and other trees! When their baskets were full of green white pine needles, they walked back to camp, excited to eat some slunch, have a fire and drink some warm tea. 

Nora and Hannah worked together to start a fire at slunch while the children sang fire songs to help them.  

The fire in the sun 

Makes the fire in the trees

Makes the fire that we light tonight 

(Repeat twice)

Fire, fire

Burning brightly 

Fill us with your light 

The fire in the sun 

Makes the fire in the trees

Makes the fire that we light tonight 

(Repeat twice)

When the fire was lit and starting to warm the white pine tea, Nora shared some stories about her cats, Mango and Tango, and about how one of them had brought a bat into her house!  

Soon the tea was ready and it was time to go home. The Chickadees gathered in the log circle, sipped on some tea and sang the “The Hemlock Grove” song again. Afterwards they were asked to put their hand on their heart, feel it beating and think of one thing from the day they were grateful for. Together they pulled that special thing out of their hearts and held it tightly in their hands. On the count of three, they released their gratitudes into the universe — “One, two, three…” 

 

Thank you for reading! We will miss the Chickadees this coming week and can’t wait until we are back in the forest together!

Week 5 Chickadees, Thursday: Swimming in Snow!

Week 5 Chickadees, Thursday: Swimming in Snow!

A big storm brought lots of snow to our area this week and even canceled prescool for three days! We were so happy to see the Chickadees again on Thursday for an execptionally epic day of tunnel-making, belly-sliding and exploration in the deep snow!

A deep blanket of snow greeted the Chickadee flock as they arrived at preschool on Thursday morning. After getting out of their cars, the children had to wade through thick snow towards the red oak tree to drop off their backpacks. Thankfully, Wren, Primitive Pursuits Program Director and Homeschool instructor, used their snowshoes to make paths for us — thank you, Wren!

When it was time for Opening Circle the children realized the log circle had disappeared! They worked together to brush away some of the snow to find the logs that were buried underneath. But there was something else missing! “Where’s Hannah?” asked some of the children. The Chickadees looked around but didn’t see Hannah anywhere. Hmmm, where could she be? Suddenly, a pile of snow that was sitting in the middle of the circle came to life — it was Hannah! The children screamed and laughed in surprise and Hannah said that Nora had taught her that foxes, wolves and huskies actually sleep in the snow! Even though snow is cold to the touch, it is a good insulator and traps heat. Sarah taught the group a fun song about snow falling down and covering the Earth in a warm, thick blanket. The lyrics and movements to the “Snow is Falling” by Melissa Blake are below. 

The snow is falling, falling, falling (Wiggle your hands like softly falling snowflakes and lower them to the ground)

The snow is falling down on the land (Repeat previous movement again)

A blanket is building, building, building (slowly start to stand upright from your crouched position)

A blanket to cover and keep Earth warm (stand up and cross arms around your body like you’re giving yourself a hug)

After Opening Circle, the Chickadees headed over to a giant snow pile that was left behind from the plow. During arrival, Hannah had started working on a tunnel and the children helped her finish it. They took turns crawling through the tunnel. Others pretended to be mountain climbers, climbing on snowy peaks and then sliding down on their bellies.

Before they knew it, it was slunch time! After washing their hands and grabbing their backpacks, they took a rest in the log circle and listened to Nora tell a Haudenosaunee story called “How the Rabbit Lost Their Tail.” During the story, the sun came out from behind a cloud and the children celebrated its warmth and the presence of a clear blue sky. 

The Chickadees spent the rest of their day playing in the snow and built a “snow chicken” with the help of Nuthatch instructor, Will. When asked what the snow chicken’s name was, a child said “Gerbert.” You can see a picture of Gerbert below with her eggs!

 

Thank you for reading! We’ll see you next week for more fun in the snow!

Week 4 Chickadees, Tuesday: Rambunctious Raccoons!

Week 4 Chickadees, Tuesday: Rambunctious Raccoons!

A mysterious five-fingered track, a frozen creek and lots of sledding — the Chickadees sure had an exciting Tuesday!

The Chickadees gathered in the log circle on a chilly Tuesday morning to see what mystery Eli had for them that day. Out of his pocket he took a picture of an animal track that has five fingers on both its front and hind feet. Eli shared that this animal lives here but has relatives in South America, is very intelligent and dexterous and will eat just about anything! Afterwards Sarah taught the flock a new song that revealed what this animal was. The lyrics are below so you can sing it at home! It’s sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.” 

I’m a little raccoon prowling around 

I hunt for food without a sound 

A mask on my face and a bushy tail 

Let’s see if you can find my trail! 

The children put on their backpacks and headed down to Trillium Camp, stopping at the bridge to observe any changes they could see in the landscape. Ice! The cold weather had helped the creek freeze again. The Chickadees quickly hung up their backpacks and followed Eli downstream in search of ice to play on. They not only found a strong and slippery patch of ice to slide around on, but also tracks, everywhere! They noticed tracks with three short “toes” and tracks with four toes and claw marks on the ice. The animals of the forest must have been busy while we were away! What do you think they were doing? Do these animals slip on the ice just like we do? Trillium Camp was filled with laughter and squeals of delight as the children slid around on the ice and collected large pieces to build ice castles. 

Speaking of ice castles, do you remember our friend Willa the Winter Fairy? The one who lives in an ice castle and helps animals?  Sarah told a story at slunch about a hungry raccoon, named Rita, who had just woken up from torpor — a hibernation-like state that raccoons go in when temperatures drop. When temperatures increase, raccoons wake up and look for food. Rita and another raccoon, named Millie, couldn’t agree on how to share a popular feeding spot. While Willa is very skilled at helping others, she knew someone who specializes in helping animals share and find things they can agree on. Any guesses as to who that could be? Unity Unicorn of course! With the help of Willa and Unity Unicorn, Rita and Millie agree to share the food so they can both survive winter. 

After slunch it was time to warm our bodies with some sledding! The children trekked over to the sledding hill and did a great job taking turns sliding down the hill and carrying the sleds back up. By the end of the day the Chickadees were feeling warm and grateful for a day spent in a winter wonderland!

Thank you for reading! We’ll see you next week for more adventures in the woods! 

Week 2 Chickadees: Vulpes vulpes!

Week 2 Chickadees: Vulpes vulpes!

A frozen creek, Rosa the Red Fox and a volcano! Read below to learn more about the Chickadees’ special week! 

“This animal is extremely adaptable and can live in a lot of different environments, including the one we’re in now. It eats small rodents, amphibians, birds and plants and it has red fur on its body,” said Eli while holding up a picture of a track that had four toes with a claw mark above each one. The children shared their guesses about what this animal could be but the Chickadee instructors kept it a mystery. Sarah then led the group through a “movement story” — a story the narrator tells using movements or actions that the listeners copy. “You wake up in the early morning right before the sun rises and are hungry. You move slowly on four legs, stopping to sniff and listen every once in a while. You suddenly hear something underneath the snow and pounce on it!” The Chickadees pretended to jump on their prey and when they caught it, they were instructed to bring it to their den because they had young mouths to feed. After pouncing on their prey, it was time to rest. “You find a cozy place to sleep right on the snow and use your long, fluffy tail to protect your face while you sleep.”

When the Chickadees stopped at the top of the bridge on Monday morning and were asked what had changed since the last time they were at Trillium Camp, almost everyone said “ice!” The creek was partially frozen! The instructors carefully tested the ice to make sure it was strong enough to hold their weight and used long sticks to mark off areas for the Chickadees to avoid. The forest was filled with giggles and squeals of delight as the children slid on their knees, bellies or bottoms on the slippery ice.

It’s slunch time, it’s slunch time 

It’s time to eat our slunch 

It’s slunch time, it’s slunch time 

It’s time to munch and crunch! 

When the Chickadees hear this song, they know it’s time to get in line for handwashing and join the flock in the log circle to eat some food, drink some water and listen to a story. Nora told an epic tale of the time Willa and the other winter fairies made it snow all day long. It snowed so much that the entire forest was covered in a thick blanket of white, fluffy snow. It takes a lot of work to make it snow all day and Willa was feeling tired. But as she was making her way back to her ice castle, she heard a cry coming from somewhere in the distance. Even though Willa was tired and dreaming of the warm bed waiting for her at home, she knew it was important to help others when possible. She flew in the direction of the cries and saw an animal in a clearing with a big, fluffy tail with white fur on the tip and large, pointed ears. “Rosa the red fox! What’s wrong?” asked Willa. Rosa explained that she was hungry but had never hunted in the winter before. “How am I supposed to find all of the tasty mice with all this snow covering up the forest floor? I can’t see or smell anything!” Willa taught Rosa how to use her ears to listen to the animals living in the subnivean zone (the area between the ground and the bottom of the snowpack) and how to walk quietly, or fox-walk, so these animals couldn’t hear her. After waiting, listening and fox-walking, Rosa was ready to pounce on her prey. Willa showed her how to jump in the air and dive headfirst into the snow. Rosa gave it a try and happily came out of the snow pile with a mouse in her mouth!

In Closing Circle, the children learned a new song called “The Wolf, the Fox and the Weasel.” This song is based on a traditional French song called “La Jument de Michao.” The lyrics are below so you can sing it together at home!

I hear the wolf and the fox and the weasel

I hear the wolf and the fox singing (repeat both lines twice)

And in ten years I will come back 

I hear the wolf and the fox singing (repeat both lines twice)

“All-in Chickadees,” Hannah called on Tuesday morning. The children ran to the log circle, sat down and suddenly heard a familiar sound coming from the trees around them — chickadees! “We must have called in the chickadees of a forest when we yelled ‘all-in,'” said Hannah. The children listened to their calls and tried to catch a glimpse of this tiny but brave bird. “I hear the chickadees’ song but not their alarm call,” said a child. Hannah and Sarah looked at each other in amazement. The flock learned about the difference between chickadee songs and alarm calls in the fall, but it had been awhile since they had talked about it. 

Tuesday’s Opening Circle had even more surprises in store! Eli and Sarah each brought special rocks to show the group — one was light and had holes in it and the other was smooth and shiny. After sanitizing hands, the children passed the rocks around the circle and described what they felt like. “This one is sharp,” “it feels like rubber,” “it’s smooth,” were some of the wonderful descriptive words the Chickadees used. Eli explained that he brought a kind of volcanic rock called pumice that is formed when gas gets trapped in lava. When that lava cools it leaves behind a rock with lots of holes in it. Sarah held up her rock and said that it’s called obsidian and it’s formed from lava that cooled very quickly.

You’re probably wondering what inspired all this talk about lava! Last week during slunch, Hannah talked about a volcano in Hawaii that had erupted and created a lake filled with lava! The children were really intrigued by this so the Chickadee instructors wanted to spend more time talking about it. Which brings us back to Tuesday’s Opening Circle when Eli made a volcano erupt. Yes, you read that right! After everyone had a chance to look at the pieces of pumice and obsidian, Eli brought out a bottle with a funnel on top. The Chickadees watched as he poured in some baking soda and suddenly reddish orange lava came gushing out! Afterwards, the children gathered around the “volcano” to take a closer look. They noticed the “lava” had gotten on the ground and was touching some charcoal from a past fire. “The lava is turning into pumice!,” some of the children said.

“I saw a gray, bushy tail coming down the trunk of the white pine tree,” Sarah said during Wednesday’s slunch story. “At first I thought it was a gray squirrel, but the tail was much bigger and longer than a tail belonging to a squirrel. I watched as this animal climbed down the tree and I was amazed to see that it was a fox, a gray fox!.” During that morning’s Opening Circle, the children got to examine a gray fox skull. They noticed how it had both pointed, sharp teeth for tearing and flatter teeth for grinding. They also pointed out where its brain, eyes and nose had been. This skull, along with other bones and a red fox hide, were shared with Ithaca Forest Preschool by Hillary-Joy, a Primitive Pursuits Homeschool instructor. Thank you Hillary-Joy! 🙂

Do you remember the chestnuts we cached last week? On Wednesday, Eli showed us how to roast them over the fire! When they were ready, each child got to try one and while many didn’t like the taste, the Chickadee instructors were so proud of them for trying something new! There were several uncooked chestnuts left so the flock decided to walk like sneaky foxes up to Turkey Knoll and deliver them to the Nuthatches. When they got past the Horsey Log, they would see that the Nuthatches weren’t in their camp. The Chickadees fox-walked over to the other flock’s log circle and left the basket with chestnuts there for them to find. When the children ran down the hill back to Trillium Camp, they noticed something strange — pieces of wood on our firewood box that we hadn’t gathered! Who do you think left these for us?

“I notice that the hair on top is more coarse and rough than the hair underneath,” said Nora while feeling a red fox tail during Thursday’s Opening Circle. The children each got to touch the red fox tail on the hide that Hillary-Joy shared with preschool. Afterwards they sang “The Wolf, the Fox and the Weasel” song while dancing and jumping around the log circle. Once in Trillium Camp, the children enjoyed climbing and sliding down the Climbing Hill and building Willa’s ice castle using pieces of ice from the creek. When the slunch time song was sung and hands were washed, everyone met in the log circle and listened to Nora tell a story called Tomten and the Fox. The Chickadees loved it and are hoping to hear more stories about Tomten, a small gnome-like creature from Swedish folklore. During slunch, Hannah led an interesting discussion about snakes. They talked about garter snakes, northern water snakes and rattlesnakes! 

When it was time to end our day and week at preschool, the children helped clean up camp by picking up all of the pots, pans and baskets and headed over to the log circle where they each picked out an instrument. One of the Chickadees had a special song he wanted to share with the flock called “A Stone Bridge,” which is sung in Romanian. The lyrics are written below in English. 

A stone bridge was destroyed 

And washed by flowing water 

We will build another one, downstream on the river 

It will be stronger and more beautiful

 

We hope you enjoyed reading about our week! We’ll see you next time for more fire, fun and mysteries! 

Week 1 Chickadees: Squirrels and Scat!

Week 1 Chickadees: Squirrels and Scat!

The Chickadees had a fun-filled first week of winter! Read below to learn what this week’s mystery animal was, what tracks we found on the bridge and what tasty treat we roasted over the fire…

The Chickadee instructors were so happy to welcome the preschoolers back to their forest school this week! A soft, fluffy blanket of snow greeted us on our first day of the winter session — how fitting! Before Opening Circle, the children played in the snow and were surprised to see how easy it was to make a snowball. They noticed that when they rolled the snow over the ground, it picked up everything (even acorns, rocks and sticks!) and revealed the dark green grass that was hiding underneath. The Chickadee instructors explained that this soft, wet snow is called packing snow and that it’s great for building things like snow people! With that said, Eli helped the children stack three large snowballs on top of each other. Then they found some fallen branches from the nearby white pine tree and stuck them in the side to make arms. Next, Eli found some long, dead grass to use as hair. When they were done, the Chickadees took a step back to admire their work of art. A child lovingly named the snow person creation “Dom Dom!”

At Opening Circle, Eli showed the Chickadees a picture of an animal track. This track had four toes on its front feet and five on its hind feet. He said the animals that make these tracks live in this area, make nests called dreys using dead leaves and sticks and have bushy tails. The children guessed what they thought this animal could be, but Eli left it a mystery (do you have any guesses?). Afterwards, the Chickadee flock grabbed their backpacks and excitedly hurried down the path towards Trillium Camp. They stopped at the top of the bridge where they reported what had changed since the last time they were there. One child noticed the creek had more water and looked wider. Another child pointed out that the pinecone bird feeders we had made in the fall were still missing! We headed down the bridge, intent on finally solving this mystery. Before “slunch” (this is what we call our eating time: it’s a combination of snack and lunch), some children went in search of clues in hopes of figuring out where the pinecone bird feeders went, while others ate some snow, climbed the Climbing Hill and threw snowballs into the creek.

 

When it was time for slunch, the Chickadees washed their hands and went to the log circle. Sarah told a story about a magical forest where fairies can be seen dancing with spring ephemerals, lounging by the creek on warm summer days, twirling down to Earth with the colorful leaves in the fall and riding on snowflakes in the winter. The story introduced Willa the winter fairy who had two special jobs: 1. to help the forest move from fall to winter and 2. provide assistance to any plants or animals that needed help. Willa hears the cries of a small red squirrel named Ringo who got lost when he left his nest in search of food. Willa helps him find his tracks in the snow and together they followed them back to his home. During Willa’s adventure, she also helps Greta the gray squirrel find her collection of nuts she hid in the fall. Greta explains to Willa that she remembers burying them underneath a tree with smooth, gray bark that had bright yellow leaves in the fall and that these leaves turn orange and stay on the tree all winter long. This description sounded familiar to Willa and she then directed Greta to a beech tree. There Greta digs through the snow and Earth to find her special collection of black walnuts, acorns and hickory nuts!

 

When slunch was over, the children played a few rounds of Squirrel Tails, a silly game where someone wears an orange bandana like a tail and everyone has to try and catch it. The children ran around the pavilion, through the garden, up and down the path and around the shelter, laughing as they tried to catch the squirrel tail. The Chickadees ended their day with a walk up to Turkey Knoll where they got to visit the Nuthatches new camp! While we are sad the Nuthatches had to say goodbye to the Ash Grove for the time being, we are so happy they will be closer to us and we are looking forward to seeing them more. At Closing Circle, the children learned a new song called “Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel Swish Your Bushy Tail.” The lyrics and movements are written and explained below so you can sing and dance along too! 

Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail (shake like you have a bushy tail) 

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail (shake your tail)

Wrinkle up your little nose (move your nose)

Put a nut between your toes (touch your toes)

Gray squirrel, gray squirrel swish your bushy tail (shake your tail)

On Tuesday the children noticed that the soft and packable snow had changed! Instead it was icy, sand-like and not as easy to make snowballs with. But that didn’t bother the Chickadees! They enjoyed stomping on the ice that had formed in the footprints we made the day before and rolling the big snowballs that had made up our friend Dom Dom (who had sadly fallen over during the night). After singing “Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Swish Your Bushy Tail” during Opening Circle, the children hiked down to camp where they noticed tracks everywhere — on the bridge, in the log circle, on the Peace Log. While helping put grit on the bridge so we didn’t slip on the ice, a child noticed that the tracks had four toes on the front feet and five on the back — could these tracks belong to the animal that Eli told us about on Monday? While some children looked at the tracks in Trillium Camp, others went on an epic wander where they found honeysuckle bushes and beech trees. When they came back, the flock gathered for slunch where they heard the story of Willa the winter fairy, Ringo the red squirrel and Greta the gray squirrel again. After slunch they played a game where someone pretended to be Greta, the squirrel who had forgotten where she had cached, or stored, her nuts. Like the story, the person playing Greta could only remember a few details about where she had put her nuts. This information was shared with the children who had to use these clues to find the cached nuts, which took the form of an orange bandana ball in this game. The Chickadees played several rounds of this until it was time to sing “The Day is Done” song. 

The day is done 

The day is done 

Thank you for today 

Let’s pack our bags and give air hugs 

And say thanks for the day

 

Wednesday was a special day for two reasons: 1. the Chickadees welcomed a new instructor named Nora to the flock and 2. it was a Chickadee’s birthday! During Opening Circle, the preschoolers welcomed Nora by helping her learn everyone’s names and told her that it’s okay if she forgets someone’s name because she can just ask if she does. 

When the Chickadees arrived in Trillium Camp, they noticed some strange tracks. They decided to follow them and  soon found themselves on an epic adventure that took them to Turkey Knoll, near the creek, across the meadow and finally to Red Squirrel Camp. There the preschoolers found a basket filled with chestnuts and tools they needed to roast them! In order to cook them though, the flock would need to build a fire and in order to make a fire they needed to collect some firewood. Nora and Eli led some children to the “wispy” (our word for kindling) bushes, also known as honeysuckle, while Sarah helped others climb on the low branches of a white pine tree. The melting snow made it a tough day for fire, but Eli was able to do it with some help from the Chickadees of course! Together they sang: 

Burn fire, burn 

Stoke your inner fire

Let the coal inside you rise

Blow that flame to life

 

Thursday brought with it more mysteries and celebration! In the morning they found tons of poop, or scat, in the front field. The children noticed the shape, color and size of the scat and learned that it belonged to a white-tailed deer — probably numerous deer, by the amount of scat they found! In Opening Circle, Hannah led the group in another round of “Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Swish Your Bushy Tail.” The children sang and danced along and afterwards headed down to camp. Before going down the bridge, Nora said that she hid treasure in a place where you can hear water, where you can see a bird house and where you might find some thorns. The children eagerly went in search of the treasure. Some went to Trillium North near the creek, while others stayed closer to the pavilion and looked near the garden until…they found it! The treasure was hidden at the base of a tree that had a birdhouse on it and was growing next to the creek. There were also some multiflora rose bushes nearby. Everyone was excited to see what the treasure was and gathered around Nora as she opened up the pot to reveal cups, stainers and white pine needles. “Tea!,” the children exclaimed.

Later in the day, the Chickadees climbed the Climbing Hill, said hello to the Nuthatches and found some more scat! But this scat looked different than the small, dark, oval-shaped white-tailed deer scat they found in the morning. This scat was bigger, longer and came to a point. A child noticed that it looked like the scat had hair inside of it. The owner of the scat remained a mystery, until next week perhaps!

 

Can you guess what this week’s mystery animal was? Thank you for reading! Check back here next week to see what new adventures came our way…

Office Location:
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Ithaca Forest Preschool is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and is run by Primitive Pursuits, a 4-H Program.