Thursday, March 6, 2008

maple tree tapping

... right here in the city! Who knew?

Today our homeschool group made a trip to North Park Village Nature Center to go maple tree tapping. We couldn't have had a better day for it! Although it was chilly out, it was good and sunny. We also had a fabulous guide who did an amazing job with the kids.

After selecting our maple tree, the kids took turns drilling a hole into the tree. Here's Clara drilling...
And now Alex's turn...
After the hole was drilled and cleaned out, the kids took turns hammering in the spile (that was my new word for the day... that's the fun of homeschooling, I'm learning too! LOL!).

Apparently sap runs best on a warmer sunny day after a really cold night, so today was perfect! The sap was just dripping out of the tree.

So, we all took a taste (dripped onto wrists instead of dirty hands)...

I couldn't believe how thin and watery the sap was... and as for taste, just a mildly sweet water taste.

Here's our tree, tapped, labeled and collecting sap...
After the tree tapping we continued on our nature walk. Then we came upon an area they call the story tree. It was this play structure made of fallen trees and logs. They kids seriously could have stayed there all day.

Also out on the trail the kids got to identify animal tracks and scat. AND we saw a COYOTE!!! Can you believe it? We were all amazed. Our guide said that she knew that one was supposed to be in the woods but that she had never seen it before herself.

After our walk we went back to the nature center to watch a short movie on how maple syrup is made while we ate popcorn drizzled with maple syrup and crackers with maple butter... yum!

The capper on this adventure was seeing deer on our way to the bus stop.... not just a couple but at least SEVENTEEN deer! It's not like I've never seen deer before but I just never expected to see them in the city of Chicago! The kids stalked them for, oh gosh, probably an hour... they had the time of their lives! They were all so excited and couldn't stop gushing about the experience.

I love days like today! :-)

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