This week arrived with freshly fallen snow, new friends, and new mysteries to uncover for the Chickadees. Maddy, who worked with the Chickadee flock in the fall, came back for the day! The children were so excited to see and play with her. They also got to meet someone new — Edie! An intern who will be taking photos of the Chickadee and Nuthatch flocks this winter and writing blog posts to help share our stories with others. At Opening Circle, the Chickadees tried to figure out the mystery this week: What animal makes these strange noises, flies at night, and hunts small rodents? Then they flapped their wings and soared around in the snowy field, diving to catch their prey. What animal were they?

During slunch, Willa the Winter Fairy visited the flock once again as Maddy told the story of how Willa helped the forest by giving a lesson to Athena the Owl. 

Willa is at home in her ice castle sipping on some peppermint tea when she hears a knock on her door. She opens it to find her friends Greta the Gray Squirrel, Ringo the Red Squirrel, Rosa the Red Fox and others! They told Willa they needed help — their friend Athena the Barred Owl had been bragging to them about how good of a flyer she was, how she could fly silently through the forest at night without anyone hearing her. She was also constantly bragging about how good her eyesight was, how she could turn her head all the way around, how she was the best hunter in the forest with the sharpest talons, how she was wise and that no other animal in the forest was as good as she was. While Greta, Ringo, Rosa and the others thought of Athena as their friend, it was getting hard to be around her. They each had special gifts of their own and they felt like Athena didn’t care about them because she thought she was “the best.” But Willa had an idea! At dusk Willa and the animals traveled to Athena’s home where they waited for her to wake up. When she did, Greta and Ringo showed her how fast they can climb up and down trees and how they cache food they found in the fall to help them survive in the winter. Rosa showed off how silently she can walk in the snow. They also went down to the creek where Willa talked about the salamanders and frogs and how they bury themselves underneath rocks and mud until winter melts away into spring. All of this helped Athena realize that, while she has a lot of amazing skills, so do others! At dusk the next day, Willa and the animals visited Athena again and she said this — “Until yesterday I thought there was no other creature as cool as me, as wise as me, as fast as me, as smart as me, and as quiet as me. I thought there was no other creature in the forest who could even compare to me. But now I really appreciate what all of you can do. I appreciate how fast you can run, squirrels, and how hard you work to get your food in the winter. And how quiet you can be, fox. I appreciate that the frogs and the salamanders can do incredible things, too. I’m still going to appreciate all the things I can do but also what you can do too!”

Listen! Did you hear that? A hoot sounded from the other side of the ridge. Where is that sound coming from?

The Chickadees headed up the hill and around the big tree to find Maddy hooting like a barred owl. With Willa’s introduction to this week’s mystery creature – owls – the flock was learning lots of interesting things about the wise birds. They learned how to make a barred owl call: who-cooks-for-you. The forest echoed with these owl calls as they played hide-and-hoot.

Wednesday morning greeted us with falling snow and beautiful winter weather. As the big flakes came down around us, the Chickadees were surprised to head to a big hill after Opening Circle instead of Trillium Camp. What did they find there? A bright orange sled and lots of snow to slide on! The morning was spent flying down the hill in the winter weather and playing in the falling snow.

After all the activity the Chickadees settled in for slunch, where Eli told the story of the time he thought he was being followed by a pack of baboons that turned out to be a barred owl calling from the other side of the woods. Then Nora told the flock about the time Willa the Winter Fairy told young owlets a traditional Haudenosaunee story about how owls gained their wisdom and wide eyes. Owls weren’t always so wise and patient! But when owl made the Creator very mad by being insistent and impatient, Owl learned to keep his eyes and ears open and use his wisdom to stay out of trouble.

Afterwards the Chickadees went inside to warm some chilly fingers and toes (this was our coldest day of preschool yet!) and discovered three small oval-shaped objects covered in aluminum foil. Eli explained that these were owl pellets! He said that since owls swallow their prey whole (bones, fur and all!), they have to regurgitate the parts they can’t digest. The flock divided into three groups and each got to help take apart the owl pellets. Inside they found fur and small, delicate bones. The Chickadees would like to give a special thank you to Elisabeth from the Nuthatches for ordering these for us! 

“Everyone close your eyes. What do you feel?” In Opening Circle on Thursday, Hannah brought a brown-striped mystery for the Chickadees. It was a secondary flight feather from a Great Horned Owl! There were so many types of interesting owls to learn about this week. The flock practiced being owls today by playing “Owl Spy” and using their owl eyes to find different objects around the front field.

After warming up at a toasty fire at slunch, Hannah explained that the flock was going to become owls again! This time they had to use their owl eyes as they flew through the forest, looking for objects hidden in the woods. Along the path to Trillium camp, the Chickadees took turns walking with their eyes wide open, finding colorful scarves, snakes, and even tiny owls hidden in the trees! They weren’t allowed to touch the object or say what they found out loud and had to glide past as silently as an owl. The Chickadees gained lots of wisdom from their owl friends this week.

Flying Through the Winter Weather

Flying Through the Winter Weather

The beginning of the week greeted the Nuthatches with freshly fallen snow and a new animal to get to know. Opening Circle started with a new birdie song with big wing flaps and motions to get the flock moving.

Way up in the sky, the little birdies fly

While down in the nest, there sleeps all the rest

Shhhh, they’re sleep-ing.

The sun rises up,

The dew goes away

Good morning, good morning, the little birdies say.


But the animal for this week didn’t get up in the morning and go to sleep at night. It’s nocturnal and uses its big eyes to find its prey in the dark. Can you figure out the mystery animal? It’s an owl! The Nuthatches learned how to use their “owl eyes” to look around, pay attention, and find things in the forest.

Once at camp, Will explained that owls need big nests to live in and sometimes will keep building on their nest for years. The Nuthatches used their owl eyes to find new branches and sticks for our own owl nest to shelter in. The flock found two sturdy ‘y’ branches and a third long branch to build a shelter in our new camp. It was so strong, Will could even hang from it!

At slunch, we read the book “Wolf Island” while we warmed up around the fire and learned about how different animals and plants are connected to each other. The relationships between all the pieces of nature are so important, especially for staying alive and warm in the winter!

Suddenly, a noise broke through the quiet of the snowy forest. Who-cooks-for-you? Was it an owl? The Nuthatches called back with their Barred Owl sound they learned, trying to find the source of the call. Who-cooks-for-you? They ran through the forest until they found Nora hiding behind a tree! Using their hoots and their owl ears, the Nuthatches found the source of the mysterious noise as we played Hide-and-Hoot. 

On Wednesday, thick snow fell from the sky. As big flakes blanketed the ground in a fresh layer of white, the Nuthatches made sure to keep moving to stay warm. We practiced our flying, flapped to our birdie song, and chased each other around the field. When we arrived at camp, Nora emerged from the woods carrying two bright orange sleds! The winter weather was begging us to go sledding down a hill near our camp. The Nuthatches spent the morning whizzing down the hill as the snow continued to fall. They even got to pull each other around in the sleds.

At slunch time, the flock warmed up around a beautiful fire and practiced dancing to stay warm. The weather was cold, but the Nuthatches kept moving in the snow with games and carrying new branches to keep building our nest.

Thursday morning dawned cold and windy, so the Nuthatches played “Owl, Mouse, Mite.” We explored the relationships between all the animals in the forest by playing this game, which is like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Each animal can beat or be beaten by another animal. Owls eat mice, mice eat mites, and mites can attach to owls! The teams picked their animal and quickly ran away from their predators. 

After Opening Circle, a special surprise was in store for the flock. We headed to the picnic tables outside to find small ovals wrapped in foil. What could be inside? As the foil was unwrapped, small brown pellets emerged. These were owl pellets! When an owl eats its food, it doesn’t cook it or chew it up. Instead, it swallows it whole. Then, it has to regurgitate all the bones, fur, or feathers that it can’t digest. The Nuthatches dug through the pellets to find tiny bones and lots of fur from small rodents. They even came across a bird beak and breastplate, showing what this owl’s meal had been. Using a key, they tried to identify which bones they were and what animal they belonged to, and packed up some of their favorite bones to bring home and show their families.

Then we headed down to camp, ate our slunch over the fire, and played lots of games to stay warm in the winter chill. We found lots of fresh tracks in the snow, including a fox track heading right through the middle of our camp. This week the Nuthatches learned so much about owls, natural relationships, and embracing our snowy winter weather.

Vulpes vulpes!

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! 

What time is it, Fine Words Fox?

What time is it, Fine Words Fox?

It’s the second week of winter preschool for the Nuthatches!

What is furry, red, and walks through the woods without a sound?

A fox, of course! This week the Nuthatches learned how to walk just like red foxes. The trick is to go toes first, slowly, one foot in front of the other. And always keep your fox ears up! When we were practicing this, we noticed that it’s very hard to move quickly when you’re trying to be silent in the woods. Especially on leaves and snow! But we got so good at fox-walking that we snuck into the Chickadees’ camp without them noticing! We left them a gift of dry firewood, and snuck back to our camp before they knew what happened! When we got back to our camp, we found that the Chickadees had left us a gift, of chestnuts and a roasting pan. What a wonderful surprise!

One day at circle, the instructors brought in some mysterious objects. They were white and small. The Nuthatches guessed that they were bones! But what animal did these bones come from? A dinosaur? A giant rat? A bear with big eyes? Maybe…a fox? 


The Nuthatches have a real passion for building! We explored some awesome natural materials this week, such as crystalline mud, dead logs, fallen leaves, and moss. We brought to life ice palaces, seesaws on top of seesaws, and even a storytelling room, where we heard about an epic battle between foxes and coyotes. We also learned that instead of taking home materials from the land, sometimes we can snap a picture of them with our minds, saving the memory forever. 

Throughout the week, the Nuthatches have been excited to play running games and sing songs, both great ways to stay warm in the winter! We played the games Foxtail, Seasons are Changing, and “What time is it, Fine Words Fox?” When we sing, we like to clap our hands or stomp our feet, and sometimes we sing the song so fast that it makes us dance! This week we sang the birthday song for one of the Nuthatches. It goes like this: Happy birthday to you! You’re a gift from the earth! Happy birthday to you! It’s the day of your birth!


Squirrels and Scat!

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…

My Roots Go Down

My Roots Go Down

Happy first week of preschool, 2021! 

This week the Nuthatches set down roots in a new camp!

We also welcomed a few new faces: Instructors Will, Ian and Nora Fox, and CIT Astrid. Our old friend Mira also joined us for a few days! After playing name games with “banana balls” a few times, the Nuthatches have really got everybody’s names down!

Our camp is now next to Turkey Knoll, and it has some wonderful features! There’s a seesaw, a debris fort, a backpack hanger, and the shelter made with woven cattail. We also made a fire circle and reviewed the different sizes of firewood: wispies, pencils/pinkies, markers, and logs. The Nuthatches have already begun to explore all the corners of this new camp, but we haven’t found a good name yet. Let’s keep thinking about it! 

One of the best parts of this week was the time we spent finding, following, and identifying tracks in the snow. The Nuthatches found fox tracks, squirrel tracks, and Ian tracks. When we followed them, we found Ian! 

Do you know the name of the people who lived on and stewarded this land for centuries? We learned that they call themselves the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’, which means People of the Great Swamp. We practiced the pronunciation of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’, which you can learn by asking your preschooler or watching this video of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ educator Stephen Henhawk teaching some of the language. We reviewed the Three Respects and came up with some ways that we can take care of the land so that ten years in the future, the trees will be as big as our circle and there will still be children laughing and playing in the forest!


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.