The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder has been a favorite subject of study in our homeschooling from the beginning. Who can resist Laura’s wonder at everyday life and the heartfelt way she describes their prairie experiences as she grows up? I loved the books as a little girl and I get to share them now with my daughters. In addition to the timeless stories of family and appreciating the simple things, there are great gems of learning that can be easily incorporated into a cross-curricular unit study.
Recently as we were reading Little House in the Big Woods again, the maple sugaring party especially stood out to us:
“Here, Laura and Mary,” Pa said, and he gave them each a little round package out of his pocket. They took off the paper wrappings, and each had a little, hard, brown cake, with beautifully crinkled edges. “Bite it,” said Pa, and his blue eyes twinkled. Each bit off one little crinkle, and it was sweet. It crumbled in their mouths. It was better even than their Christmas candy. “Maple sugar,” said Pa.
Reading about the maple snow candy and the fun (and work) the family had together convinced us that we needed to try maple sugaring at home!
Disclosure: I received a Tap My Trees Starter Kit for Teachers at no cost and was compensated for my time to write about it. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Maple Sugaring at Home
We’ve seen plenty of tapped trees in our neck of the woods, marveling at the collection buckets and what homemade maple syrup must taste like, but we never thought about doing it ourselves until we heard about Tap My Trees.
Tap My Trees provides everything you need to DIY the maple sugaring process. Although we like learning about life on the prairie and in the Big Woods with Laura, we don’t necessarily want to duplicate the hardships! The Teacher’s Kit we received allows us to experience maple sugaring and use it as part of our homeschool studies in our own backyard. It even includes lesson plans to enrich the educational experience. Making maple syrup (maple sugaring) offers learning opportunities in many areas: Science, Math, History, Art, Writing, Cooking, and Nature.
We learned that the sap runs in February or March, depending on the weather. We marked our maple tree before all the leaves fell because tree identification is generally easier when you can look at the leaves. It’s not impossible to identify a tree without leaves, of course, so don’t let that stop you! You can just add a tree identification book to your reading list to be sure you tap the correct tree. You’ll also want to look for a maple that is at least 10-12 inches in diameter and healthy-looking for best results.
Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Kit
Each Teacher’s Starter Kit includes:
- aluminum bucket with cover
- spile and hook
- drill bit to drill the hole in your tree
- cheesecloth for filtering
- an instructional book with lesson plans
Maple Sugaring Reading Resources
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- More than Making Maple Syrup (DVD) ~ watch as this real-life homeschool family shares their own adventure with maple sugaring.
- Maple Sugaring at Home by Joe McHale ~ this is the book included in the Teacher’s Kit from Tap My Trees. The ultimate how-to guide!
- Maple Sugaring: Keeping It Real in New England (Garnet Books) by David K. Leff ~ written by a modern-day maple sugaring expert who values the experience as part of the culture and history of New England. Firsthand stories included.
- Sugaring by Jessie Haas ~ picture book with beautiful illustrations showing a girl and her grandfather maple sugaring in Vermont.
Learn More about Tap My Trees