Photos from the Trailcam: Fall and Winter

At preschool, we often ask ourselves the question “What animals visit Trillium camp when we are gone?” 

We already have some tools to help us figure this out. For example, everyone loves to examine and follow tracks in the snow. Sometimes we might find feathers or even fur. And sometimes we see the animals ourselves! 

Earlier this fall, we found another special tool that can help us with our question. It was under some leaves, wet and dirty. It was a trail camera, the same one that our old friend Sarah Chaffee had set up last year! Unfortunately, water had gotten into the belly of the camera and it was no longer usable. But Nora Fox happened to have another one in her closet (from her college thesis project doing mammal surveys in Vermont), and brought it in! The preschoolers helped choose some different trees to strap it to, and since then, we’ve gotten some great answers to our question about what animals visit our camp!

A trail camera is very special because it takes pictures whenever it senses something moving, in the night or day, rain or shine. Sometimes it captures leaves moving, snow falling, or animals (and preschoolers!) walking by. Here are some of the images this camera has captured in the fall and spring. Look out for these animals: deer, squirrels, and mink! Each image has a date and time stamp so you can see exactly when it was taken. Click the arrows on the sides of the picture to see the next ones. Can you tell what these animals are doing? 

Snow Fun!

Snow Fun!

Over the past two weeks we have had so much fun in the snow. One of the kid’s favorite things to do is exploring the snow forts started by a group of older kids. They have used their muscles and worked together to climb and dig more tunnels. Working hard, trudging through deep snow, and doing silly dances to keep warm was a big part of every day.

The preschoolers practiced tracking both animals and each other. After seeing mink tracks near the creek and spotting a mink on our trail cam footage, they have been learning about animals in the weasel family . They enjoyed learning about how otters like to toboggan on their bellies and then used sleds to do the same. Some of the skills they practiced were how to bail off the sled and how to steer with their hands. It was really fun for the instructors to watch them.

We also talked about snowflake formation and had a beautiful moment where we could see perfect snowflakes on each other’s dark clothes. It was a great way to keep the attention focused while we were waiting for other kids to hide.

These two preschoolers worked together to climb the slippery hill and slide down many times together. We have seen so many examples of the kids working together to solve problems and their friendships are growing really strong. 

Welcome Winter!

Welcome Winter!

We have had such a magical start to the winter session. The cold weather has brought a lot of ice, and with that a lot of fun exploring, skating, breaking, and investigating it. On Monday we had some magical snowfall as we started our day. What a beautiful welcome to the new year and the Winter session. We looked all around Trillium camp to see what had changed since we had been there two weeks earlier. We found a lot can change in just two weeks!

On Tuesday we discovered there was ice that formed on the creek. We spent much of the day ice fishing, skating rocks across the ice, breaking it, and making ice popsicles. 

On Wednesday we investigated how the ice had changed and went on a wander to see how the ice looked at different parts of the creek. We discovered that it looked different everywhere. Some places had almost no ice, while others were almost completely covered! We also found the perfect puddle to smash! 

On Thursday we went on a wander to the bird feeder. On our journey we found so many frozen puddles that made perfect skating rinks. The kids loved skating around on the mini rinks! We also found that there were things frozen in the ice, like leaves, and sticks.

We made fires every day and the kids all appreciated warming their hands at slunch (combined snack and lunch) time at the fire. It was also really fun to put out the fire with chunks of ice from the creek.
We also learned a new song with movement. It has become a fast favorite.
Standing and keeping the beat sing:
I hear the wolf and the fox and the weasel
I hear the wolf and the fox and the singing
I hear the wolf and the fox and the weasel
I hear the wolf and the fox and the singing
Now skip and dance around and sing:
In ten years I will come back
I hear the wolf and the fox singing
In ten years I will come back
I hear the wolf and the fox singing
 
Repeat this as many times as you like and it is a really fun way to stay warm, have fun, and sing together.
Fall 2021 Wrap up and Celebration

Fall 2021 Wrap up and Celebration

I can’t believe that the Fall session has come to an end! This past week we celebrated every day with special food: nettle and rosehip tea, hemlock tea, fire roasted pumpkin seeds, and popcorn over the fire. What kind of celebration would it be without costumes! It was like a party every day.   

We also retold our Peace Superhero Story. This story was adapted from the Haudenosaunee peace story by Melissa Blake in collaboration with tribe members. In this story we meet Fine Words Fox, who uses their finest words, like please and how are you feeling. We also meet Shadow Tail, the squirrel, who grows in size when they realize how good it feels to help out. Shadow Tail carries the other Peace Superheroes on their back as they journey through the forest. Next, we meet Feel Better Butterfly, who helps others to feel better with their beautiful dancing and kind words. Peaceful Porcupine helps others to find inner peace by guiding them to take deep breaths, saying, “Everybody fill your balloon. And let it all out.” Our final superhero is Unity Unicorn who helps others to find common ground and things they can all agree on. The Peace Superheroes left us five peace stones to help us remember their superpowers and how to use them. 

On the last two days, we performed a song we had been working on all week. The first verse is one that we sing at school. The following verses the children made up themselves:

 

My roots go down, down into the earth
My roots go down, down into the earth
My roots go down, down into the earth
My roots go down
 
I am a Jaguar eating ice cream
I am a Jaguar eating ice cream
I am a Jaguar eating ice cream
My roots go down
 
I am a unicorn eating a marshmallow
I am a unicorn eating a marshmallow
I am a unicorn eating a marshmallow
My roots go down
 
I am a stick jumping on a trampoline
I am a stick jumping on a trampoline
I am a stick jumping on a trampoline

My roots go down

Enjoy this fun little video from one of the performances. laughing

Mud and Snow

Mud and Snow

We have had so much fun playing in both the snow and mud this past week. 

We have also been working on making friction fires with a bow drill. The kids have been helping us gather supplies for tinder bundles, whispies, pencil, and marker sticks. They encourage us, when we are having a hard time getting a coal and are amazed when the fire starts. It has been a fun process to get them involved with and learn about. 

More photos from the week. 

Duwisduwi

Duwisduwi

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. 

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.