Hi Chickadee Banditry!

The forest is constantly changing around us and we feel so grateful to have the opportunity to observe these changes with your children, who see so much! They’ve noticed the abundance of leaves on the ground in Trillium Camp, they’ve spotted some leaves starting to change color and they’ve been taking time to stop and pick up rocks to see what might be hiding underneath. This time of year, the harvest season, can be so busy but your children remind us to slow down, look at the world with wonder and walk with curiosity.

The Chickadees on a wander in the Meadow in search of colorful leaves.

This week we welcomed Fall and all of the colors, smells and gifts it brings! Maddy wrote and taught us this Equinox Song, which you can listen to by clicking on the link below. And here are the lyrics so you can sing along too!

Equinox Song

by Maddy

 The seasons are changing, I feel it every day 

Leaves have been falling every which way

I think it must be close to a very special day

The days are getting shorter

The nights are getting longer

We’re now in the third quarter of what we call a year

Let’s celebrate together, the Equinox is here

We have been finding toads everywhere! The children have been practicing gentle ways to hold and care for them.

We not only celebrated the Equinox but also two Chickadee birthdays! Together we sang, ate some delicious cupcakes, and honored these two children as they entered a new year of life. And as we entered into a new season, we celebrated all of the changes and signs of Fall around us. The children noticed, while stopped at the top of the bridge leading to Trillium Camp (one of our core routines), there were colorful leaves covering the Earth in our camp — red ones, yellow, orange, leaves that were half green half yellow. Together we filled a basket with the most lovely leaves we could find and decided to gift these colorful treasures to the Nuthatches! We walked quickly and quietly to the Ash Grove, hoping they were away from their camp so we could leave the basket there without them seeing us. The Ash Grove was empty of Nuthatches! The children picked a spot for the basket and helped Maddy make an arrow pointing to the gift. The Chickadees flew back to their nest just as the Nuthatches were beginning to return to theirs! Once we were back in Trillium Camp, the children noticed something strange — a basket sitting in the fire circle! We went to investigate and found the basket filled with colorful leaves — a gift from our friends the Nuthatches! 

The Chickadees gifting a basket of leaves for the Nuthatches.

Leaves aren’t the only thing falling from the trees this time of year. Several Chickadees have found these strange circular “eggs” underneath our red oak tree! One of these “eggs” even made its way into our mystery bag, which was passed around in Opening Circle. Each child had a turn to feel the object, describe it and give their best guess as to what it could be. After a big drum roll, the mystery was revealed — an oak gall! We learned that oak galls are formed when a wasp lays eggs in the tree’s leaf buds. Over time the gall gets bigger, forming a protective shield around the growing wasp larva. When it’s ready, the wasp breaks through the gall and goes out into the world. How amazing is that?!

A rock covered in fossils! With the creekbed dry, the children have found lots of amazing rocks.

Who knew that a banditry of chickadees would love a game called Chickadee Tag! This week the children learned that chickadees (and nuthatches!) cache, or store, their food. To play Chickadee Tag, someone hides several bandana balls that represent seeds, berries, insects, and other things chickadees like to eat. Once all the food is hidden the chickadees have to fly from their nest in search of the food and bring it back without getting caught by the hawk. To keep the hawk away and to warn other chickadees about the predator, they must give a loud alarm call (“chickadee-dee-dee!”).

Maddy, Hannah and Sarah have begun introducing the Chickadees to the Peace Super Heroes — a group of five animals who each have a special gift, or superpower, that allows them to help other animals with their problems. This week the children met Fine Words Fox, who is good at using fine words like “please,” “thank you,” “I care about you.” They also learned about Feel Better Butterfly, who helps others feel better when they’re feeling sad or angry. And Shadowtail, a grey squirrel, whose kindness and support helps Fine Words Fox and Feel Better Butterfly travel through the forest. Next week we will get to meet the rest of the Peace Super Heroes!

Until then!

Falling leaves and joyful spirits,

Sarah, Maddy & Hannah 

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.