Preschool Programs

Tapping at Forest Camp!

Week 2

This week we met with Friday's group, but we missed Monday because of the negative wind chill! We made a good call, when I stepped out my front door the cold air took my breath away in Burlington!

On Friday we started in the sunny backyard with free play, which included designing snow castles and attempting to sled on slushy snow. The slush was perfect for building our castles! The wet, heavy snow was easily able to take the mold of any container we put it in. Then, playschoolers found seed pods, leaves and sticks to decorate the castles. We had just as much fun building them as we did stomping them back into the ground!

Building her snow castle. We used sand pails and an empty sap bucket! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Snow castle with a flag stuck in the top of it! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Decorating together! Photo: Audubon Vermont

1 of 3

After everyone arrived, we grabbed our lunch boxes and hiked to Forest Camp for Morning Meeting. During Morning Meeting, we planned a day of sugaring and games. Before we jumped into our exciting schedule, it was time for snack and a story. We read one about a sugarbush to introduce our next activity as well as a silly story about a crowded mitten!

snack time
Snack and story! Photo: Audubon Vermont

Once we finished eating, it was time to move onto maple sugaring! This year, we decided to tap a maple tree right at Forest Camp so that we can come back each week to check the sap. Before tapping, I talked the group through maple tree identification, the different tools we'd be using to tap and the desired conditions for running sap. 

First, we drilled...

explaining sugaring
Sarah explaining how to identify a maple tree and how to use the sugaring tools. Photo: Audubon Vermont

We worked together as a group to make sure the tree we chose was a maple, then we made a line to start drilling and tapping! 

Drilling into our maple tree. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Drilling into our maple! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Drilling! Photo: Audubon Vermont

1 of 3

Then, we tapped our spile into the tree...

Tapping! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Tapping! Photo: Audubon Vermont
Tapping! Photo: Audubon Vermont

1 of 3

Finally, it was time to hang our bucket! Some of us stuck around to try and hear the sap hitting the bucket, while others started free play. Free play at Forest Camp is wonderful, there are so many trees to climb, meals to make in the snow kitchen and exciting nature around us. We couldn't ask for a better place to explore! 

snow kitchen
What's cooking in the snow kitchen? Photo: Audubon Vermont
Climbing our fort! Photo: Audubon Vermont

While we were playing, Emily made an amazing (yet unfortunate) discovery...a dead redpoll laying in the snow just off the path to Forest Camp! The bird had no obvious signs of death, it looked like it was peacefully sleeping. Our best guess is blunt force from the wind storm. No matter the cause, it gave us a chance to talk about life and death in natural communities and discuss how we would like to honor the bird. I suggested that we build it a small nature shrine and lay it to rest. I had several dedicated helpers. We collected ferns, seeds, bark and other natural treasures to place around the bird's body. 

Dead female redpoll. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Feather from the redpoll. Photo: Audubon Vermont
Adding ferns, bark and other natural treasures we could find to the redpoll's resting place. Photo: Audubon Vermont
The final resting place. Photo: Audubon Vermont

1 of 4

Many of our playschoolers chose to share the redpoll with the adult who picked them up. 

We ended our day with lunch and thank you circle, when we name our favorite part of the day.

Lunch and story. Photo: Audubon Vermont

How you can help, right now