I love the idea of nature study at local park reserves, and daily nature walks. Do I do it often? Nope.
The fact is, putting together a nature study plan, then getting all three little ones ready to go in between naps, snacks, and diapers, is often times too much to manage.
In this season in life, I’m looking for backyard nature study options.
In this season in life, I’m also getting back to some of my green-living life style. You see, we have had three kids and bought two houses in the last 5 years. Some things got shelved for another day, and making things from scratch was definitely one of those things.
What do we make from scratch now?
- Chai tea
- Bread (sometimes)
- Preserved lemons
- Kombucha (my first batch is brewing now!)
- And more!
I received a Teacher’s Kit from Tap My Trees for free and have been compensated for my time to review their product. All opinions are my own as I was not required to write a positive review.
After all these, maple sugaring sounded perfect to add to our list, and it gets the nature study bug started right away in the spring! With the Tap My Trees kit, we are ready to get started right away with all the supplies we need when the weather turns (see toward the end of this post to know when the right time is to tap your maple tree).
How to make maple syrup basics
I always thought making maple syrup would be hard, or you needed a ton of trees to make just one jar of maple syrup. Both are not true! You can make maple syrup, around a quart from a 12″ diameter tree, in these simple steps:
- Drill and insert spile
- Hang bucket and attach lid
- Collect daily and store
- Boil, strain, and store!
Uses for maple sap
I learned from the teacher guide that making maple syrup is only one of the uses for maple sap. Can you imagine making a cup of coffee or tea with maple sap as the base? Yum! Or using it when making cookies or pancakes? Basically any time you use water in a recipe, you can swap it out for maple sap for a hint of maple flavor!
We will definitely be setting aside some maple sap to taste in our tea.
Preschool and toddler nature study ideas
Obviously I’m looking forward to the yummy result of tapping our maple tree, but let’s also remember the bigger picture. I want my kids to be passionately curious, and that means that I want to introduce them to scenarios where they can wonder, explore, and investigate the world around them.
My favorite book so far with my little ones is our Fun with Nature Take-Along Guide, and we can use this to help identify our maple tree in our yard. It’s not entirely comprehensive, and instead rather an introduction for very young children, so if we get on a roll and want to identify the other trees in our yard, I’d use the Peterson First Guide to Trees of North America.
Tree and maple syrup lapbooks
Homeschool Share has some awesome lapbook resources for both trees and maple syrup. There are more resources than one student would likely use for the trees lapbook, but you can find some options that fit your child and where they are at in their education.
Completing the tree lapbook now, when you identify your maple tree together, along with the maple syrup lapbook in the spring would be a really nice way to tie it all together, and build anticipation for your maple sugaring process coming up!
Eye spy cards
Most of the previous resources are a bit much for toddler, but the eye spy cards located in the printable toddler and preschool nature study pack are perfect for my 2 year old to carry with while we are working on nature study. I’ve laminated the cards with my handy dandy laminator and put them on a ring so they are easy to bring with on our walks.
When to pull out maple syrup supplies
We are having a really mild winter so far, so I’m thinking we will be able to tap our tree in February or March. The criteria is when the daytime temperature is above freezing, and the night temperature is below freezing, so we’ll just have to play it by ear.