Hello Nuthatch Families!

This past week, the Nuthatches spent a lot of time thinking about changes, in ourselves and in our surroundings… and the change of seasons! We celebrated and welcomed Fall, finding signs of its presence all around us in the changing leaves, the crisp morning air, and in finding our rhythm in our new Ash Grove nest. Here are some highlights so you can connect with all the joy we’re finding in our new forest home together!

During our first full week at preschool, the Nuthatches really settled into our routine and rhythm. We’ve spent time together each day making our new nest – the Ash Grove – our home. We learned how to spot ash trees in our nest by noticing their compound leaves, and opposite branching patterns – like stretching your arms out to both sides! In our opening circle on Tuesday, the official Equinox, we practiced standing on one foot. Then we tried extending our arms on either side, like the ash tree’s branches, and found we were able to balance more easily. We paused to think about how the day and night are the same length now, like two branches level with each other, or a balanced scale. The Nuthatches also celebrated this special time of year by learning a new song and singing it every day this week (there’s the third R: repetition!). Here are the lyrics so you can sing it with your child (there are motions too!):

Turning, turning, the Earth is turning.

Turning always round to morning.

And from morning, round to night.

On our way to Ash Grove one day, we gathered signs of Fall and then placed them in our fire circle (yet to hold fire!). 

The Nuthatches are a busy brood of builders. We’ve made a playground in our Ash Grove! Every day, this playground looks different. Often we find that all we need is a sturdy ash limb (left over from the construction of our lean-to) and we can go on top of, under, over, or even hang from it! One day, an ash limb became a door and we took turns giving clues for fellow Nuthatches to guess passwords like “goldenrod” and “charcoal” and our birth months.

One of the many evolutions of our forest playground! 

On Tuesday, Elisabeth finally revealed what was inside the Mystery Box! A sinking stone, used by Native peoples to fish, and used by Tunbar in the final installment of our first ongoing story. We asked for volunteers to bring our next mystery and were met with enthusiasm; one preschooler kept a secret for two days, giving us hints and fielding our questions about the object. It was bigger than the sinking stone, round but bumpy, different on the outside than on the inside, and it had been cracked open using not one but two hammers. At the end of Thursday, our volunteer opened the box to show us… a geode!

A preschooler holds onto Mira’s arm to take a big jump — and a moment after this picture does it independently!

The Nuthatches played games this week to learn each other’s names and to get to know each other. One the preschoolers asked for again and again was Seasons Are Changing, a rendition of a Primitive Pursuits favorite, Forest Fire, which Mira adapted for our themes this week. We started our “project time” – the South part of the day in the 8 Shields model – with a conversation about animals and how they change throughout their life cycles and adapt to the changing seasons. Shedding fur/scales/skin! Growing bigger and more independent! Hibernation! Migration! Caching! Then we invited everyone to choose an animal but keep it to themselves until the end of the game, like their own little Mystery. For the first round, Mira started off in the middle of a field, playing the role of The Seasons. Preschoolers then ran from one side to the other when Mira called out an attribute or behavior of their animal, dodging bandana balls – or “banana balls” as we accidentally, and now jokingly, call them – on the way. Upon getting tagged, preschoolers became “Seasons” too and collectively came up with more traits to call out: “If your animal _________”… And when nobody ran, we shouted “Seasons are changing!” signaling all the animals to run to the other side, because seasonal changes affect every living being. 

The Seasons huddle while the animals wait to hear if they need to run. 

Last but not least, the Nuthatches took our first adventure far from the nest on Wednesday. We gathered colorful leaves that called out to us as we walked to the camp up the hill from the Chickadee nest. We then practiced “fox walking” down the path into Trillium Camp, which we had heard would be empty when we got there. Still, we wanted to be as quiet and mysterious as we could while sneaking in, placing the basket in the Chickadees’ fire circle, and going right back out the way we came. Despite the excitement of this task, we stayed quiet until we were all the way up the hill again! When we got back to our camp, we found a basket of beautiful leaves in our fire circle… how did it get there, we asked? One preschooler thought the Chickadees may have read our minds (we’ve been having a lot of “mindreading” moments lately). Another preschooler suggested that a snake ate the basket, carried it in her stomach to Ash Grove, and then pooped it out for us to find. One of the numerous mysteries this week, and there are many more to come!

Equinox wishes for balance and welcoming changes,

Elisabeth and Mira 

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.