~ Maple Syrup~ Discuss the process of making maple syrup. Compare the 1800’s methods in Sugar Snow to the methods in Sugarbush Spring. The sap is usually running from the maple trees by the end of February, and if you happen to live in an area with deciduous (leaf-losing) trees, you may find a local nature center that does maple-tapping demonstrations. History of maple tapping, and general info.
~ Maple Trees~ Read about maple trees on pages 252-253 in Fun With Nature (or other field guide type book). Go for a nature walk to locate maple trees. If you are looking in late winter, before the buds have opened, you can identify a maple by its bark, seed pod “helicopters”, and its characteristic “eye to eye” leaf growth. Color or draw pictures of maple leaves, seedpods or trees. Site to ID maples
~ Snow~ Snow is formed when ice crystals in a cloud bump together and stick to each other. If the temperature of the air below the cloud is cold enough, snow falls. All snowflakes have six sides, but no two snowflakes are just alike. Have children cut paper snowflakes making sure no two are the same.
~ Pioneer Life~ This story is based on the childhood of Laura Ingalls in the 1870’s. Point out the pictures of the log cabin, clothing, open fire, and punched tin lantern, and candlelight. Discuss the pastimes the Ingalls family had, the girls playing paper dolls, Pa whittling wood, Ma sewing. Compare them to the pastimes your family members have. Would your child enjoy living as a pioneer, without television, or electronic games, no cars or telephones or running water? If you use a timeline in your homeschool, add a picture of the Sugar Snow book jacket.
~ Wisconsin~ Laura lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Show child on a United States map where Wisconsin is, and identify the state as being in the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin is called the Badger State because the lead miners in the early 1800’s lived in caves dug out of the ground, just like badgers. There is more butter and cheese made in Wisconsin than in any other state, and its forests make lumber and paper making important industries.
~Relationships~ A recurring theme in both Sugar Snow and Sugarbush Spring is the importance of family relationships. In Sugar Snow the children play together, the family tells stories around the fire, and Pa and Grandpa were together getting the syrup ready. In Sugarbush Spring the extended family works, cooks, reads, and plays games together as well. It seems that the maple syrup may have been a family tradition, something that was looked forward to and enjoyed by all. Discuss childhood memories of spending time with your family and friends and traditions that your family may have now. If you can’t think of any traditions you have, why not start making memories now.
~Estimation~ You and your child can do this fun experiment with snow, using graph sheet. Pack snow into a glass (if you don’t have snow, crushed ice will work too), and help child measure how deep the snow is and record it on the graph. Ask him how much water he thinks will be in the glass after the snow melts, and record that answer as well. Now place the glass in a warm spot, allowing the snow to melt, and record the amount of water in the glass. How close was your child’s guess?
~Temperature~ In Sugarbush Spring a thermometer is observed to tell the temperature of the syrup. The warmer the temperature, the higher the liquid in the thermometer rises. When the syrup reaches 212 degrees, it reaches the point at which liquid boils. Also make mention that water freezes at 32 degrees, and point out the picture of Laura in Sugar Snow, where she is watching the icicles melt. Have child observe a thermometer every day for a week and record his findings.
Cooking – ~ Having children help to measure and mix, make Laura’s Little Maple Cakes from My Little House Cookbook.
~Make Sugar on Snow – Boil pure maple syrup to 225 degrees. Pour onto the snow. Enjoy!
~Misc. Maple Recipes