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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  Albert Einstein

Gifts from Coyote

Sarah Chaffee, March 21, 2018

The following blog post is from the week of March 12th.

Forest Preschool

On a chilly Monday morning, the children of Forest Preschool walked down the path at 4-H Acres towards Trillium Camp. They stopped along the way to observe a large hole on the side of the path. "I think an animal lives in there," said a preschooler. Another thought about how big the creature must be to dig a hole of that size. They continued their trek until they came to the top of the bridge where they found tracks! "How many toes do you see?" Melissa asked the children. Some got down close to the track, their noses almost touching it, and counted the toes. The children discovered that this creature had four toes on its front paws and five on its back. After noticing that the tracks led to a burrow they discovered the week before, the preschoolers came to the conclusion that is was a groundhog.

A preschooler running to tell the rest he had found Coyote (Jesse).

At snack Sarah told a story about a forest and its animals that had endured a long, cold winter. In hopes of bringing spring to the land, Coyote, with the help of Spider Woman's children and many other creatures, got the attention of the Grey Fox Spirit, who controls the seasons. After working together, the animals were able to bring sunshine, blooming flowers, growing buds and warming days to the forest.

The preschoolers checking out some tracks.

After the children packed up their snacks, they went in search of Coyote to help him bring spring to Trillium Camp. They hiked up the hill towards the Horsey Log and split into two groups- one headed for the scout pit and another towards the teepee. As the group going to the teepee got closer, they heard a faint howl coming from the woods nearby. They stopped to listen, some pulling out their deer ears. The children walked in the direction of the howl until a preschooler gasped and pointed. There, in a small clearing, was Coyote. The children called over the group that had ventured to the scout pit and together they approached Coyote. Some were nervous, but bravely marched forward, and were surprised when Coyote handed them a spruce bough tied with basswood and in a flash, Coyote was gone!

Frozen drips in the creek at Trillium Camp. Photo take by Melissa Blake.

With the gifts Coyote had given them, Forest Preschool decided to make spruce tea with sap from their tapped sugar maples. They gathered the buckets before heading back to camp, stopping along the way to pick up good pieces of firewood. They used the basswood tied around the spruce bough as tinder for their fire. Some children helped Jesse cut firewood using a saw, while others helped tend to the fire and pull off spruce needles for the tea. After warming up the sap over the fire and adding the needles, the children enjoyed the sweetest tea they had made all year!

Jesse and a preschooler sawing wood for a fire.

Tuesday and Wednesday were snowy days for Forest Preschool! They enjoyed following animal tracks in the snow and put their tracking knowledge to the test when they found some mysterious prints near the tepee. The children counted four toes and couldn't see any evidence of a claw mark. They followed the tracks across the Horse Arena until they disappeared in the woods. After noticing the gait pattern, they concluded that the tracks belonged to a domestic cat. On Wednesday, the snow fell in large, wet snowflakes for most of Forest Preschool's time together. The children took turns sledding down a hill near the Horse Arena and challenged each other to see who could slide the furthest. They also made a snow tunnel and crawled in it, pretending that the snow on their back was a turtle shell.

Sarah and a preschooler after sledding down a hill. Photo taken by Jesse Worden.

On Thursday, Forest Preschool joined Homeschool for their Opening Circle. The children shared their favorite animal stretches with the group. Together they slithered like snakes, flapped their arms like birds and crouched like bobcats. Instead of going down to Trillium Camp, the children spent the day playing in the deep snow by the red oak tree. They made snow couches, tunnels and a village of snow people. At snack, Melissa told a story about a treasure buried in snow that was found by a group of fairies. Inspired by the story, the children searched for their own treasure in a nearby snow pile where they found bananas and chocolate! Afterwards they enjoyed their sweet treat together in the snow.

A preschooler hanging out in a snow tunnel.


On Thursday, the Homeschool clan made Village Camp their home for the day. They embarked on an epic firewood hunt, searching far and wide for large, dry pieces. Once they had a good supply of wood, the homeschoolers built a fire to heat up sap from one of their five tapped maple trees. They kept the fire going for most of the day in hopes that the sap would turn into syrup. In the meantime they had an epic snowball fight, talked about changes they had noticed in their sit spots and made maple syrup flavored pancakes. When the sap, which had become more viscous, had cooled, the homeschoolers dipped their pancakes in it and were surprised at how sweet it was! Below are some more highlights from their day.

Delicious maple pancakes made by the Homeschool clans.

The homeschoolers and Hilary-Joy having some epic snowball fun.

Two homeschoolers coming to join the party.

Danielle and a homeschooler helping warm up some cold toes.

Siri and a homeschooler walking out of the woods after a long day of adventures.

Winter Explorers

The always adventurous Winter Explorers ventured to the Arnot Forest where they encountered a fire challenge like no other. They had to build a fire large enough to burn a string, which, when burned in half, would reveal a surprise. The explorers worked together to find dry wood and fed the fire until its flame was large enough to reach the string. When the string had burned completely in half, the explorers discovered the surprise was ingredients to made ash cakes! They cooked the cakes on the coals of the fire, along with the challenge of cooking eggs in their shells.They soon learned that the eggs explode with a small "pop!" if left too long under the hot coals.

Thanks for reading! We are grateful for the abundance of sap, the cheerful birdsong and the promise of spring.

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Need a trail guide?

We’re happy to help you navigate. Give us a call at the office (607) 272-2292 ext. 195 or use the link below

Get In Touch

Don't miss a beat, add yourself to our list to get all the latest details.