How Sweet It Is

There are many stories explaining the discovery of the sugary-syrup made from the sap of maple trees.  One of the most well-known is the Legend of Chief Woksis whose wife reportedly discovered maple syrup while preparing venison (deer meat) during the “Season of the Melting Snow.” The legend recounts:

Maple Syrup, Step-by-Step

- Maple Syrup
- Sugarbush Spring by Marsha Wilson Chall. A girl and her grandfather tap sugar maple trees and tell the story of making maple syrup. ISBN: 978-0688149079


1. Hold up a bottle of maple syrup and ask the students if they know how syrup is produced?

2. Tell the students that syrup comes from trees, but do not tell them how it is extracted.

Be the Tree

- Tree cookies, for each student (can be cut from tree trimmings or available in bulk from nature suppliers like Nature-Watch)


The tree trunk and its main branches have five key parts, as illustrated by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Sugar Snow

- Types of sugar (i.e., maple syrup, molasses, white sugar, brown sugar, honey), enough for each student to sample
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Share Chapter 7: The Sugar Snow, pg. 117-130. An excellent account of tapping trees for maple sugar. ISBN:  978-0060797508

Indoor Gardening Ideas

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow!   

2010 Grant and Award Winner Year End Report Summary

The National Gardening Association provides material assistance to youth and community garden programs with support from our generous sponsors. To date, 9,310 grants & awards worth $3.7 million reaching an estimated 1.4 million youth in the U.S. have been distributed through our organization. In 2005 we started collecting data to track the impact of our grants programs via a year-end evaluation summary completed by grant recipients. Below are some recent testimonials and results.

Baking Bread to Nurture Cultural Understanding

When Ginger Clarke’s kindergarteners participated in the harvesting of their first school garden, yanking zucchini was surely a highlight. But then came the taste test. “None of the kids liked it either raw or cooked,” says Ginger. Determined to find a way to get students to try the versatile vegetable, Ginger invited the class to use it to make bread from scratch. It was a hands-down hit. “The kids were amazed by how much they loved it,” she explains.

Eatin' with Grandma

When Molly Hesser and other home school parents pondered what new project could support their local food and sustainability focus, they came up with a simple twist. Each family would specialize in raising just one type of vegetable, and they’d pool their products. To bring social studies into the mix, youngsters would first interview grandparents and other family elders about favorite foods from the past.

Food Roots and Routes

Overview: Students explore the journey of produce from farm to table and chew on the idea of eating close to home.

NCSS National Social Studies Standards Addressed:
Theme 3: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

Berry Festive Holiday Wreaths

Bright winterberries just cannot be beat for festive winter color. (image by Jessie Keith)It’s amazing how the holiday season hits us earlier every year. It is a shock to see the overnight transition from the Halloween décor at the local stores to dazzling displays of red and green merchandise, as if some momentous event were imminent.

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