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The magic of maple trees

When I was young, my parents bought their first home in a quiet, old neighbourhood. For the first time, we had our own yard to play in!

 

Furthermore, three huge maple trees lined the yard, making it extra special. These trees were over one hundred years old. They were magnificent then...and still are today.

 

So many memories are linked to those maple trees. During the summer, their leaves protected us from the sun. Often, my friends and I would sit under them and talk for hours. I am sure they would have many secrets to reveal if they could talk! Every autumn, tons of leaves would fall from their branches. It seemed like my father was constantly raking! However, my fondest memory is that my father would tap the sugar maples every spring, collect the maple sap, and make maple syrup.

 

The process wasn't very complicated. My father would simply drill a hole in each tree using his drill, insert a small tube, and hang a sap bucket. He would collect the sap water and boil it until it became maple syrup. The delicious maple syrup was quite impressive, especially since this was all done in an urban environment.

 

Today, I have a maple tree in my own backyard, but it is a young tree. It is probably only about 15 years old and is therefore nothing like the trees we had during my childhood. I will have to continue to visit sugar shacks for many years to come with my own children for a taste of maple syrup. With spring just a few weeks away, I encourage you to begin observing maple trees with your group. This simple activity could turn into a project that lasts all year long.

 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sit under a large maple tree at circle time and discuss the characteristics of the tree. Give each child a piece of paper and a crayon and encourage them to draw the tree as they see it. Repeat this activity at the start of each season.
  • The bark of young maple trees is smooth and grayish in color while the bark of older maple trees is darker and covered with long vertical crevasses. Invite children to touch a maple tree's bark. Is it soft?
  • Look closely at the tree's branches. Why do they move? Sway your arms to imitate the branches' movements.
  • Have children stand around the tree trunk and hold hands. Sing songs children enjoy and dance around the tree.
  • Let each child hug the tree trunk. Are they able to wrap their arms around it?
  • Cut a small maple tree branch lengthwise and observe it closely.
  • Look closely at the tree's buds and watch them break in early spring.
  • Bring a maple tree branch indoors. Set it in a bucket filled with modeling dough or sand and decorate it according to your theme or the season.
  • You can also cut a few tree branches and use them for a painting activity. They can replace the paintbrushes you would normally use.
  • In autumn, sugar maple leaves vary in color from yellow to orange to red. Admire the leaves with your group and draw colourful maple leaves. Repeat this activity in spring and summer.
  • Collect maple leaves in spring, summer, and autumn. Study their transformation from season to season.
  • Maple trees produce samaras, a fruit shaped much like a helicopter. Organize contests around samaras. Whose samara will touch the ground first?
  • Glue several samaras together to create characters or animals.
  • Plant samaras in the yard with your group once spring arrives. Note that they must be completely dry first. You can store them in a jar in the refrigerator.
  • Serve a variety of products made with maple syrup.
  • Prepare this simple recipe with your group:

Maple treat

  • 1 ¾ cup of maple syrup
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 ¼ cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • Graham crackers
  • Whipped cream

Combine maple syrup, flour and salt. Warm milk in a bain marie. Gradually add the first mixture and then the butter. Cook mixture for approximately 5 minutes or until it thickens. Allow maple cream to cool somewhat before spreading a thin layer in the bottom of a 10" x 12" glass dish. Top it with a layer of Graham crackers. Spread a second layer of maple cream on the Graham crackers and, finally, spread whipped cream on top.

 

Special thanks to Andrée Bégin for this recipe.

 

Enjoy! Take advantage of this time of the year to visit a real sugar shack with your group!


Claudine Richard
Early Childhood Educator


Educatall.com is not responsible for the content of this article. The information mentioned in this article is the responsibility of the author. Educatall.com shall not be held responsible for any litigation or issues resulting from this article.

 


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