Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience. One of the ways we integrate this philosophy into our program at EAVP is by going on field trips. In March, we had the good fortune to visit Zach Barton and his team of helpers at the Trail Side Sugar Shack on Currier Road.
Prior to our trip, we learned about the process of making maple syrup, so the children knew that sap comes from Maple trees, that it is collected and then boiled until it is syrup. Hearing about this process in a classroom and looking at pictures in books is one thing, but experiencing it makes it real!
Zach brought us out and showed us a maple tree; he let children help drill a hole in the tree, hammer in a tap, and set up a bucket to catch the sap. We looked into a brimming sap holding tank (some of us tasted the sap!), watched as Zach’s helpers loaded wood into the evaporator, and smelled that wonderful aroma you can only find in a sugar house.
Zach generously invited us to taste his maple candy, maple cream, and of course his syrup which we had atop vanilla ice cream. We are grateful to our parents, who helped drive us to the Sugar House, and to Zach and his team, who, after a great morning, sent every child home with their own little bottle of syrup!
Back in the classroom we are reflecting on and extending this experience as we study weather (we learned that the sap only runs under very specific weather conditions!), investigate the parts of a tree, and draw pictures in our journals of our Sugar House experience. We are even making pancakes in our pretend kitchen!
Next time a preschooler pours syrup on a real pancake, I’ll bet they remember Zach and how syrup is made!
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