Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's (Almost) Maple Sugaring Season!

We are big fans of  maple syrup in my home. Not the fake stuff, or the flavored stuff. I mean the real stuff! Oh the sweet goodness! While summer is my absolute favorite time of the year, I really enjoy maple sugaring season. And if we ever thaw from this deep freeze and the trees wake up, sugaring season will soon be here.

About five years ago we read the book Miracles on Maple Hill for the first time. (A lovely little story that chronicles one family's struggles, due to the father being so deeply affected by war, and the triumph of healing.) My curiosity was piqued about the maple sugaring process and I found a nearby place to teach us some more. We thoroughly enjoyed our field trip to learn the maple syrup process and have since been back 2-3 more times.

During the field trip we learned all about maple trees and the season of maple syrup. We tasted different types of syrup as well as the sap straight from the tree, which looks like water. Then after our mini lesson we trekked out to find a tree to tap. 

We were able to take turns drilling...
 placing the spile and bucket...
sneak a taste of fresh sap...

 and even collect some sap.
Then we watched the process...

the evaporator...

it's becoming syrup!
explanation of different grades of syrup....

After everything was finished we bought some fresh maple syrup of course!

If you have read my other posts you must know that it never stops at a field trip or just one book for me. No, I get on a roll and create an entire unit study! We followed up with more books about maple syrup....Here are some of our favorites:

Some other wonderful books are:

Then we made a lapbook...
 You can find the link to this free lapbook here. {Note:The cover is now different than when I used this lapbook download. I am sure you can search google images for a different cover if you'd like something else.}

I laminated the cover so it would last longer. (the laminator is my best homeschool purchase. Here is the one I have, but it goes on sale for $20- often)

After laminating I cut it in half

I glued each half to a file folder folded in a typical lapbook fashion

Then I used Velcro dots (underneath the picture, along the edges) to keep it closed.
Here are some elements we put into our lapbook

This is the view with each side open
a closer look at "what kind of tree can I tap?"
And this is with the flap pulled down
I only added one piece of cardstock for the flap because we didn't have too much to put in.
So that's our lapbook!

Last year we found an awesome maple cupcake recipe. We prepared the cupcakes, before we went on our field trip, with the syrup we had in the fridge. Then when we got home, with fresh syrup in hand, we made the icing. They were amazing! Here is the recipe.
Cannot wait to make these again! YUM!

Here are some helpful links about maple syrup:
The Maple Syrup Story (History of Maple Syrup)
Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association
Massachusetts Maple Producers Association
Maple Syrup World

And some more studies on maple syrup:
Unit Study on Maple Syrup
Sticker Study: M is for Maple

I hope you can find a local venue to learn all about maple syrup.

Happy Maple Sugaring!

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