Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tapping for Sap

Last week the kids at Nature Preschool were going to learn about maple sugaring and take a field trip to Miss Jane's sugar house. I had this vision of creating a model maple tree that they could tap and pretend to collect sap.

So I found the largest piece of cardboard I had, and got to work crafting a maple tree. Then I recruited my five year old to help me practice collecting the sap. He was a bit dismayed at how slow the drips were, but once a puddle of 'sap' collected in the bowl he became excited about the process. As with many of our projects and experiments, I lost interest long before him. He continued to collect the sap for almost an hour and only stopped because his little sister started dumping the sap bucket!

How it works:
One child gets to stand in the back of the tree and starts the flow of sap by using a pipette to push water into the tap.

The other kids watch as the sap drips from the tap, runs through the plastic tubing, and finally collects into the bucket.

To keep a group of kids interested in the activity, be sure to have plenty of funnels, cups, spoons, strainers, and tubing for them to explore properties of 'sap'.

When I led this activity at Nature Preschool the kids were eager to be the one behind the tree and a line formed as they waited their turn. So I put additional pipettes in the water table and they played there until it was their turn to 'be the tree'.

** Check out my maple tree for yourself at the World Maple Festival on April 16th from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. in St. Johnsbury, Vermont! The Balch Nature School at the Fairbanks Museum will be leading a pretend "Sap Collecting" activity in the Kid Zone area. More information about the festival can be found at


  1. How cool that you're getting to share your maple tree!

    And I love this idea, I could see it being a great addition to a study of Maine (I think it's Maine knwon for maple syrup, or is that Vermont? Now I need to look that up).

  2. Thank you! Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world. In the US, Vermont is the leading producer. :)