Rainy days, mud puddles, baby plants and animals — the Chickadees welcomed spring with big smiles, laughter and excitement for all the change still to come in our wooded world. Below you will find some highlights from the past few weeks as well as a special surprise at the end!
This week the Chickadees transformed into bigger birds with dark gray feathers on their backs and reddish orange on their bellies. The children and this mystery bird also share something in common — they both love to find worms, although the preschoolers don’t eat them like this animal does! Any guesses as to who this bird may be?
I’m a little robin skipping cross the lawn
Picking up worms and singing my song
Cheer up cheerily, cheerily cheer up
I’m a little robin skipping cross the lawn
If I don’t get a worm then I don’t care
Spread my wings and take to the air
One less burden that I have to carry
I can still fly, I can still be merry
The Chickadees learned the “Robin Song” by Shep Chieco, a former Primitive Pursuits instructor, throughout the week and practiced flapping their wings, hopping and listening for worms just like robins while singing along. When they got to camp one day, they noticed something strange: brightly colored worms (that were actually plastic snakes we had used for an “owl eye walk” in the winter) hidden throughout Trillium Camp! The robins had to collect all of the worms and bring them back to their nest without getting caught by the hawks. Later on, the nest became filled with hungry hatchlings who kept saying “Feed me! Feed me!” until all of the worms had been found.
In the mornings during check-in, the children enjoyed picking dandelions in the field and carrying their harvest around in baskets. But what can we do with all these dandelions? The Chickadees brought their baskets over to the picnic tables where they learned that you can color with dandelions! They took the yellow dandelion heads and rubbed them on pieces of paper to draw suns, flowers, cheetahs and all kinds of things! Nora also showed the children how to make dandelion bracelets and necklaces that they wore throughout the day — there is so much you can do with this lovely plant!
During Opening Circles this week, the Chickadees learned that if they were good listeners (just like robins!), then they’d get a “star” for the day; four stars and they get to have a party! When asked what they wanted to have at their party, the Chickadees said, “cake, balloons, presents, decorations!” While the flock didn’t get to 4 stars this week, they did see the mink again! While waiting at the trailhead for everyone to get their backpacks on, the flock noticed a small animal with dark brown fur running along the side of the creek. Several children called out “mink!” while we watched it disappear into the forest.
This week the Chickadees learned more about the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’, the Haudenosaunee and other native groups from around the country and world! Each morning, the instructors start the day with a land acknowledgment to bring awareness to the orginal stewards of this place we get to play, learn and grow on. This week, the instructors asked the the children to give the land acknowledgments and they had wonderful things to say — “Thank you Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ’! Thank you!”
At slunch one day, Sarah read from a book called The Boy Who Lived With Bears and Other Iroquois Stories told by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Murv Jacob. The story she read was called Rabbit’s Snow Dance and was about a rabbit that made it snow even though it was spring by dancing and singing a song. It snowed so much that the rabbit got stuck in a tree when it had all melted while he was taking a nap! After slunch while on a wander, something magical happened! The Chickadees noticed something white and fluffy falling from the sky — could it be snow, just like the story? The children picked up the fluff that was covering the ground and discussed what it could be. Some were convinced it was snow while others said it reminded them of the soft heads of “wish flowers.”
This week Nora taught the flock a new song called “I Thank the Earth.” Nora also showed us how to sign “thank you” in American Sign Language, which we did while singing the song!
I thank the Earth for feeding my body
I thank the sun for warming my bones
I thank the trees for the air that I breathe
And I thank the water for nourishing my soul
On Thursday the Chickadees were very excited to learn that they had made it to four stars which meant it was time for a party! The children started their day by filling up a tarp and a wheelbarrow with leaves from the picnic table area and pushed them over the hill along the path to Trillium Camp. The Chickadees loved jumping in the leaves and throwing them in the air — it felt like it was fall again! This was so much fun that it was hard to stop but Rey had something very special to reveal to us in Opening Circle: a mysterious map she had found hiding in the leaves! There was an “x” that marked where the treasure was hidden. The children rushed down to camp to drop off their backpacks and they headed out on an epic adventure that took them to Trillium North, up the secret staircase, down a hill, up another hill and finally to the front field where they discovered a large “x” made out of sticks on the ground in front of the white pine tree. The Chickadees looked around — here was the “x” but where was the treasure? They quickly spotted a pot tucked between the two trunks of the tall white pine. Nora took down the pot and showed the flock what was inside — cups, a strainer, a spoon, honey and party decorations — what were they going to make? “Tea!” some of the children yelled. They helped Nora and Sarah harvest needles from the white pine tree and learned that this tree is a special symbol of peace to the Haudenosaunee. Before they left, the children sang the “Gratitude Song” written by Melissa Blake. This song can be adapated to whatever you want to give thanks to — worms, flowers, the sun, anything!
White pine, oh white pine
We love you
We offer you thanks for all you do
So please, please, please grow!
They were greeted by a warm fire that Rey had made while the Chickadees were on their adventure. They were so excited to tell Rey about what they had found and to make some white pine tea, which they heated up over the fire while eating slunch.
There was so much to talk about with last week’s theme that we decided to continue it into this week! The children continued to listen to stories at slunch time from The Boy Who Lived with Bears and The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Tales by Joseph and James Bruchac, illustrated by Stefano Vitale. In Opening Circle, Nora showed the Chickadees a bowl that had been made using the coals of a fire! She explained that many different people use this technique to make things, including canoes! At slunch, Sarah talked about when she lived in New Zealand and about how the Māori traveled there from other islands on canoes called “wakas.” She also told them about the time she was invited to a wharenui, a “big house” where Māori gather for special events.
Later in the week, the Chickadees started working on an obstacle course for the Nuthatches! They worked together to build a “spider web” made out of rope for them to climb through, a tunnel for the Nuthatches to crawl through and hula-hoops for them to jump through! Little did they know, while they were busy making an obstacle course for the Nuthatches, they were making one for us! On Thursday after slunch, the Nuthatches presented us with an amazing map outlining each obstacle and where to go. We started on their teeter-totter, which we had to carefully balance on as we walked across. Next up were ropes that the Chickadees had to go over or under, and then a throwing stick challenge! At the end of their path was a mysterious figure wrapped in a tarp. Many of the children suspected that this was Eli just “being silly,” but the mysterious being assured us that he was the “cloaked man” who was going to give us lava-proof powers so we could slide down the volcano, which looked a lot like our climbing hill! The Chickadees slid down the hill and said thank you and goodbye to the Nuthatches — what a fun day and week!
SPECIAL UPDATE FROM HANNAH!
For those of you that don’t know Hannah, she worked with Ithaca Forest Preschool this fall and winter and is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail! Scroll through the gallery below to see pictures she shared with the Chickadees and read the captions to learn where each photo was taken. We miss you Hannah and wish you luck on your great adventure!