The sun shone in the cloudless sky and sparkled on the fresh snow as our flocks gathered on Monday for this week’s adventures. Bundled up in the cold morning air, the flocks did their best to guess this week’s mystery animal. What do you think it was?

Chickadees

During Opening Circle, Eli passed around a picture of a track. It had 5 long toes that kind of looked like fingers. Could it be a human print? Maybe a squirrel? The Chickadees got down on their hands. How would this animal move? They waddled over to the tree where their nest was. It was daytime, so it was time to sleep. This animal was nocturnal! When it was dusk, it was time to wake up and head over to some tasty looking trash bins full of delicious food to eat. After gorging themselves on human food waste, the Chickadees thought they had figured out which animal they were pretending to be. Was it a raccoon? You guessed it!

It was time to head to camp, so the chickadees made their way down the snow-covered, sunlit trail to the bridge. They observed that the creek looked different today: it was covered in ice once again! After carefully testing to see if the ice was thick enough, the flock got to play near the frozen stream and explore the many fresh tracks in the new snow. They found deer and squirrel tracks right in camp. There were so many fresh tracks to explore, leading in all directions around the forest! 

During slunch, Sarah kept the flock warm with a toasty fire. With full bellies and warm hands, the Chickadees headed up to the top of our big sledding hill and got to whiz down on the fresh blanket of snow again this week. At the top of the hill, Eli also built a jump for the sleds. 

“Are you ready?” “Ready!” They flew through the air and landed on the soft white ground.

On Wednesday, the sun hid from us again as fresh snowflakes fell from the sky. The flock practiced their animal walking around in the snowdrifts, and even got to slide down the Climbing Hill in Trillium Camp. Today, everything was thickly covered in snow, even the creek itself! Soon, the flock was also covered in snow from their morning romp.

While they filled their bellies during slunch, they learned about a wolf who loved cookies and learned to share them with a butterfly friend, and Nora told the story of how Pan played his pan pipes against the god Apollo. With magical music floating through their heads, the flock headed inside to warm up and then back to the sledding hill to try out the new snow that had fallen and get more air-time on the sled jump.

Though the week was chilly, the Chickadees stayed warm and enthusiastic as they learned about crafty raccoons and played in the deep snow.

Nuthatches

What has dexterous hands, a black mask, eats almost anything, and moves on all fours with a waddle? Why, a raccoon, of course! During Opening Circle, the Nuthatches got to experiment with their raccoon-waddles all across the field. When it was time to pack up and head to camp, the instructors gave the flock an important task on the sunny morning. We needed to collect as much firewood as we could for our special activity during slunch. The Nuthatches worked hard to collect lots of whispies, pencils, and markers (three good diameters for firewood) from the forest all around camp, and piled it up inside our shelter. While the flock worked diligently bringing sticks back to the nest, Ian had a special treat in store.

He built up a log-cabin fire that was soon roaring out of the snowy ground and placed a bag of round objects into a pan. Today was a day for roasting chestnuts! First, Nora had to cut a slit in the chestnuts so that they could cook on the inside. Then they were placed in boiling water for several minutes. 

While the chestnuts were boiling, Will told a story about how Jack the Raccoon helped the Peace Superheroes keep their tasty meal. 

A snow snake had snuck into camp and stolen all of the chestnuts from the Peace Superheroes. They didn’t know what to do, so they called on Jack the Raccoon. Since he was so crafty, he knew just what to do. He and Unity Unicorn tracked the Snow Snake through the woods, following the trail it made in the snow. They snuck up on the Snow Snake, and when Jack jumped out to surprise the snake, Unity Unicorn grabbed the chestnuts and took them back to camp. Thanks to Jack, the Peace Superheroes had a tasty treat to finish their slunch.

After boiling over the fire, it was almost time for our chestnuts to become a tasty treat for the Nuthatches! Ian finished roasting the nuts in a slotted pan over the open flame. Then, each member of the flock got to peel and try this new treat. Many nuthatches enjoyed the woody and sweet flavor so much, they asked for seconds. Everyone in the flock was very adventurous and tried the new snack, just like raccoons!

On Wednesday, the sun hid behind the clouds and soft snowflakes fell from the sky. After playing a fun running game and making animal sounds in Opening Circle, the flock headed out to camp where they found the field completely covered in a thick white blanket. They spent the morning working on sturdy walls for their snow shelter, using their hands, sleds, and shovels to pack down walls into the snow. They also found lots of giant snowballs that they could climb on and chip apart. There was so much snow cloaking the ground!

At slunch, the Nuthatches once again warmed themselves over a fire, huddled in close to dry wet mittens and keep their fingers toasty. After slunch, we had more fun in the deep snow with some free play time and lots of opportunities to explore our winter wonderland. Though the week was cold, fire, food, and friends kept these little raccoons safe and warm.

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.