Summer-like weather, a mysterious note from the forest fairies, and a party — this sure was fun week at preschool!


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!





“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!



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 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! 

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.