This week the Nuthatches got to play in the snow and the mud! 

What an exciting week to be outside at preschool. We all had so much energy to run and explore in the sun. 

Shout out to Nuthatch instructor Emily Rose for most of these wonderful photos!!

On Tuesday, the Nuthatches started off the day by passing around a beaver skull that Sarah Chaffee had found on a hiking trip. We peered into the big holes where the eyes would have been, the little holes where the teeth used to be, and the medium-sized hole where the brain was. Ian got us thinking about how beavers often change the landscape around them by building dams and flooding streams, which creates a wonderful habitat for many fish, waterbirds, and other mammals like muskrats. What are some ways that humans change the landscape? What can we do to respect this land? 

When we arrived at camp, the first thing we did was check on the sap bucket. There were a few inches of clear liquid (with some bugs too). Then Ian drew our attention to some pieces of paper with mysterious drawings on them–clues to a scavenger hunt! The Nuthatches put their minds together to figure out each step in the adventure, leading us into the brush to a tree with a long basket hanging from it. When we looked inside, we saw an object that looked like a bow, and some other pieces of wood of different lengths and thickness. Ian told us that these were tools for making fires–one was called a bow drill, and the other was called a hand drill. In order to make our fire though, we had to gather a lot of firewood! The Nuthatch kids raced to gather more wood than the instructors.  

Back in our circle, Ian demonstrated the hand drill for us and made a coal in only a few minutes! We were very impressed. Ian said that he’d practiced this skill for months before he was able to successfully start a fire using a hand drill. As we basked in the warmth of the fire, Emily read a sweet book to us called “Planting the Wild Garden,” by Kathryn Galbraith. To end the day, the Nuthatches played on the seesaw and in the field, where the snow shelters were still standing.  

On Thursday, the Nuthatches were overjoyed to see the muddy rivers crossing the front field at arrival. Some of the mud was so deep that when we stepped in it, our feet disappeared! It really felt like spring as we stomped around under a blue sky. As we walked out to camp, we also noticed that the creek was rushing with a lot of power! When we arrived at camp, some of the Nuthatches checked on the sap bucket again–today it was almost half full! And we could see the clear liquid drip-drip-dripping out of the spile. The trees are ready for spring too! 

Some of the Nuthatches got right to work collecting firewood, while the others played a rousing game of Beavers vs Dragons in the field, where the snow shelters were just barely standing. And then it was time for a little adventure–to the creek! We trekked to a section that wasn’t roaring so ferociously, and tested the waters. We splashed around and even built a dam out of sticks and mud, just like beavers do! It was so fun that nobody got upset over the water in their boots. Back at camp, we had lunch around a fire that warmed our feet and hands. Cesca told us a story about a time she saw an otter, and Emily read a book called “Bugs for Lunch,” by Margery Facklam. We started to notice bugs all around us…

The Nuthatches spent the rest of the day sneaking up on the Chickadees. We were so sneaky that they didn’t see us even though we were really close! 

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.