Porcupines, the burnt potato chip tree and sap — what a fun and silly week we had with the Chickadee flock!


Let’s get together us porcupines 

Catbirds, hawks and fishers 

We’ll climb tall trees where we’ll wait and linger 

And sing to the Hemlock Grove

The Chickadees sang the second verse of the Hemlock Grove song together after identifying the mysterious track Hannah showed them — it belonged to a porcupine! The prickle (what a group of porcupines are called!) put on their backpacks and made their way to Trillium Camp. Once there, the Chickadees helped us name two different kinds of trees based on what their bark looks like. They named a tall tree with dark colored bark the burnt potato chip tree, also known as a black cherry tree. The Chickadees also named a very important tree that we’ll get to know over the next few weeks — the green- gray mountain tree, more commonly known as a sugar maple! After they identified these trees, Eli and Sarah called out their names and the children had to run to the tree. In doing this, the Chickadees realized we have a lot of burnt potato chip trees in our camp! 

At slunch, Sarah told the story of how Willa the Winter Fairy met Peaceful Porcupine and how he taught her balloon breaths (“Everybody fill your balloon!”). After everyone had filled their bellies with food and water, it was time to do some exploring. The Chickadees headed up to the Horsey Log where they pretended it was a rocket ship taking them to new planets. The group then walked down the path leading them to the top of the Climbing Hill. Along the way they noticed two big green-gray mountain trees! They walked down the hill to feel their bark and look up their tall trunks. Eli shared that during this time of year, when daytime temperatures are above freezing and nighttime temperatures are below, that sap runs from the roots of these trees all the way to the branches where their leaves will start to grow again. “Should we tap this tree and try to collect some sap?,” Sarah asked. “Yes!,” exclaimed the Chickadees.



The sun warmed the Chickadees’ faces as they gathered in Opening Circle on Thursday morning. Sarah had a mystery for them! This mystery fit inside a small box and used an important part of the animal we had been talking about this week — porcupine quill earrings! While traveling in Alaska in the summer of 2019, Sarah went to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks. While she was there, Sarah signed up for a workshop led by an Alaskan Native who taught her how to make earrings using porcupine quills and moose hide. Sarah learned so much and was very appreciative that this special art was shared with her.

After singing the Hemlock Grove song again and putting on their bags, the children walked down to Trillium Camp. Along the way, they heard something…something that sounded like rushing water — the creek! The children noticed the creek had more water and guessed that it was because the snow was starting to melt. The Chickadees slid down the Climbing Hill on their bellies like otters and pulled each other around on sleds. When it was time for slunch, Hannah read a story called The Parrot and the Fig Tree by Michael Harman. The children had listened to part of this story on Tuesday during pick-up and were happy to hear the rest of it.

After slunch it was time to check the sap bucket! The Chickadees walked up the hill, past the Horsey Log and down towards the green-gray mountain tree. Nora helped the children take turns looking inside the bucket — no sap yet! The group will have to check again on Monday to see if any sap was collected over the weekend.



Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week!

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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.