Week 10 Nuthatches: Stories & Stone Drilling

Week 10 Nuthatches: Stories & Stone Drilling

It’s hard to believe that we only have a couple days left of forest preschool! This past week, we spent our time in play, creek time, stories and stone drilling. In the photo above, we played a sneaky rendition of the game “keeper of the keys.”

The Nuthatches are truly some amazing young humans. Throughout the spring, they’ve shown compassion, teamwork, and a willingness to work through the challenges of conflict. This week, we spent time doing what we love most: playing, creek-time, and stories.

Tuesday was our first day back after the long weekend. The Nuthatches spent the day at our home base camp Turkey Knoll with Jamie, Eli and Rey. At opening circle, we discussed the changes that we noticed throughout the past several months, including what we notice is different outside now. The Nuthatches had lots of keen observations to share on that! We even talked about the changes that the Nuthatches have experienced personally throughout this time.

Once we got to camp, one of the Nuthatches found a tick crawling around and many circled around to look at it. The Nuthatches are on their way to becoming experts at spotting ticks and plants like poison ivy.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of some free play with each other and listening to Rey tell an epic story of Thor and some other tricksters.

 

On Wednesday, the Nuthatches had a couple visitors during opening circle. Our friend “Chippy” the chipmunk came around right when the Nuthatches began having their morning snack. That sparked conversation about being respectful to wildlife by not feeding them. A few of the Nuthatches also noticed a deer in the woods that morning! 

The Nuthatches also got to switch camps with the Chickadees and spent the day at Trillium camp playing by the creek. While down by the creek, the Nuthatches began selecting stones thin enough to drill through. The stones will be used for their end of season project and will continue to be worked on next week!

At slunch, Jamie told a rendition of the Grimms’ story ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. Later in the day, a couple Nuthatches lead the group in a tick scan before heading home.

On Thursday morning, Rey taught a new song to the Nuthatches about bears! Thursday was also the day that the Nuthatches decided to tell their own made-up story to the Chickadees. Not only did all the Nuthatches participate, but they acted out many of the characters in the story too! The Chickadees seemed to love having a story acted out for them. Stay tuned on that, parents, we’d love to share it with you.

The Nuthatches ended the day with some more free play and stone drilling for their projects. Many Nuthatches showed great concentration and focus on the task at hand.

What an incredible gift they all are to spend time with!

 

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!

MONDAY

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!”

 

TUESDAY 

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!

 

WEDNESDAY

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!

 

THURSDAY

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! 

Nuthatches Week 8: Fairies and Creek Play

Nuthatches Week 8: Fairies and Creek Play

At the end of last week, the Chickadee flock set up an obstacle course for the Nuthatches. On Monday, the Nuthatches finally got to complete it!

This past week, the Nuthatches focused on the theme of fairies and got to spend a lot of time by the creek, meeting some wildlife, and playing some fun games.

On Monday, instructors Jamie, Eli and Nani met the Nuthatches for an awesome opening circle. The Nuthatches practiced good listening skills while Jamie told a story about fairies and animals finding a way to live in balance with each other.

 Out at camp, we the Nuthatches split into pairs to build fairy houses together. The Nuthatches were encouraged to work with kids who they haven’t spent as much one-on-one time with. It gave them the opportunity to make some deeper connections with the Nuthatch flock!

 Throughout the day, the Nuthatches saw a bull frog, a tick, and a crayfish. At the end of the day, the Nuthatches got to do the Chickadees obstacle course. They said it was easy for them and admitted that it was still a lot of fun!

 

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches were outside with Eli and Jamie for a beautiful day with weather in the 70’s! At opening circle we had a pair of chipmunks come within a couple feet of many of the Nuthatches. Everyone watched with wonder and amazement! We talked about what we thought they were doing, as it happened to be right during out snack time.

Out at camp, the Nuthatches worked on a fairy shelter together and even got involved in a stick throwing game. Eli noticed some poison ivy around camp and all the Nuthatches were able to look at it and learn how to identify the plant. It was another fun day with the Nuthatch flock!

 

On Wednesday, Eli, Jamie and Astrid joined the Nuthatches for another beautiful day! At opening circle, we recalled our friend, the Lindworm and wrote a letter to them. When we got out to the forest, we went to the creek and the Nuthatches used their creativity to make a boat out of bark and pinecones to send the letter on. Later in the day, the Lindworm had returned a letter to the Nuthatches asking them how they could help protect nature. It was a big question that we are still thinking about!

On our adventure, we saw an inch worm and more crayfish! 

On Thursday, Jamie, Eli and Nani spent the day at White Pine camp which gave us great access to the field and the creek. Thursday was the hottest day of the week and the Nuthatches did a great job drinking enough water! 

When we got out to camp, we played a game in the field called “snakes in the grass,” a combination of tag and acting like a snake! We followed our game up with a good tick check – the Nuthatches are really getting the hang of those!

The Nuthatches had lots of room for being goofy and playing in the creek. Toward the end of creek play, Eli caught a lobster, as the Nuthatches like to call them. This crayfish really was one of the biggest we’ve seen before though! So much fun.

 

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!

MONDAY

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!

 

 

 

TUESDAY

“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!

 

WEDNESDAY

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

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! 

Week 7 Nuthatches: Ancestry, Fire and Scouting

Week 7 Nuthatches: Ancestry, Fire and Scouting

We received a lot of rain at 4-H Acres over the past week or so. The Nuthatches installed a rain gauge the week prior to track how much rain we’ve gotten!

On Monday, Eli, Jamie, Nani and the Nuthatches stopped at camp to check the rain gauge. While the Nuthatches were at camp, Jamie disappeared for a moment…

Jamie crossed the creek heading toward the hemlock grove and then called “all in!” to the Nuthatches. Eli, Nani and the Nuthatches gathered their things and set out to find where Jamie was calling from. To make it more challenging, Jamie kept moving as he called “all in!” The Nuthatches showed great group cohesiveness while crossing the creek; all the recent rain had caused the creek level to rise! Eventually, the Nuthatches found Jamie at the edge of the hemlock grove.

 At the hemlock grove, the Nuthatches enjoyed some free play and during slunch, the flock talked about fire, ancestry, and sat around the fire.

The Nuthatches overcame social and physical challenges on Monday and everyone stuck together, making it a day for lots of learning!

 

On Tuesday, Rey, Jamie, Eli and the Nuthatches spent the day at camp. Rey, who usually is with the Chickadees, was able to meet the Nuthatches for the first time! During the day, the Nuthatches decided to gather a basket of dandelions and flowers for the Chickadees and sneak down to Trillium camp to give to them. Eli lead the Nuthatches and they showed some impressive awareness for going undetected in the woods. The Chickadees were excited to receive their gift!

Later, Eli set up “throwing sticks” and the Nuthatches played, showing improvement for aim and hitting their targets. At slunch, Eli and Rey read from the book The Boy Who Lived with Bears and Other Iroquois Stories, told Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Murv Jacob, and at the end of the day, the Nuthatches made a giant mud cake for a Nuthatch birthday that day!

 

On Wednesday, Jamie, Eli, Astrid, Nani and the Nuthatches spent time the day at camp, playing the camouflage game first thing in the morning. Some of the Nuthatches found such sneaky spots and practiced being completely still, nobody was able to find them!

After playing camouflage, the Nuthatches helped Eli map out an obstacle course for the Chickadees. The Nuthatches showed creativity and attentiveness helping with the map. Listening was also a huge positive that day!

At slunch, we read the Pawnee story of “The Bear Man” from the book The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales, by Josepeh and James Bruchac, illustrated by Stefano Vitale.

On Thursday, Rey, Eli, Jamie and the Nuthatches spent the day out at camp with the big goal of finishing up the obstacle course! Once to camp, we had some free play and began creating the course. The course consisted of rope spider webs, logs to jump over, a lava mountain and an old, wise, wizardy guy at the end with nature questions to ask (as seen above.) The Nuthatches were excited to gift the Chickadees with this course and showed them how to do it! Next week, the Nuthatches will be able to do the one the Chickadees made for them.

At slunch, Rey told an awesome rendition of the stories Finn McCool and Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed. A action packed and fun filled week indeed, and the Nuthatches showed real improvement throughout the week on playing together and listening.

 

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?

Chorus:

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!

 

SPECIAL UPDATE FROM HANNAH!

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!

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.