Sugar Maples – Background

The much-loved sugar maple tree provides food and shelter for wild animals, leafy shade in the summer, spectacular colors in the fall, firewood in winter, and the finest syrup in early spring. Learning to know sugar maples better and understanding how they produce the sap for the syrup we love so well can only increase our appreciation of these delightful trees.

Maples are easy to identify if you take a closer look at their growth habit. Continue reading Sugar Maples – Background

Sugar Maples – Activities

FOCUS:  The combination of warm days and cold nights in early spring reawakens maple trees and starts the sap flowing. This yearly event in the life cycle of a maple tree provides sugar makers with the sap needed to produce maple syrup. Even without leaves, sugar maples can be recognized by their bark, twigs, and buds, so we know we are tapping the right trees.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about maple sugaring.

Pass out a sugar maple twig to each child, and ask children to observe and describe their twigs.

Materials: sugar maple twigs, one for each child; magnifying lenses.

Objective: To observe patterns of similarities and differences among a variety of winter twigs, and learn the special characteristics of sugar maple twigs.

Ahead of time, cut fresh twigs from sugar maple and three or four other opposite-branching trees (e.g. ash, red maple, silver maple, Norway maple, ash-leaf maple/box elder), enough so that there is one for each child. In addition, cut a fresh twig from an alternate-branching tree (e.g. elm, beech, poplar). Continue reading Sugar Maples – Activities

Sugar Maples – Puppet Show

The Sweetest Sap

Characters: Sammy Squirrel, Grandpa Squirrel, Fir Tree, Beech Tree, Red Maple, Sugar Maple

Sammy Squirrel  Ya know, these acorns are filling, but I’m getting bored with them. All winter long, nothing but nuts and seeds.

Grandpa Squirrel  Well, Sammy, when I was a youngun, I didn’t sit around complainin’. Warm days in the spring, I’d run up a maple tree and drink the sweep sap. Fills ya full o’ energy, sap does. Puts a real frisk in yer tail.

Sammy  A sweet energy drink? Gee, I gotta try that. See ya, Gramps! (exits) Continue reading Sugar Maples – Puppet Show

Sugar Maples – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Sugar Maples – Standards