Maple Syrup
March 2020


The month of March is peak season for making Maple Syrup. Laura identified the maple tree on our playground as a Norway Maple and suggested we try and tap the tree in order to collect sap and possibly make our own maple syrup. We thought this would be an amazing opportunity for the children to see what is inside of a tree, learn about how sap is used to make Maple Syrup, and would be an engaging activity that would last weeks!

The first step was collecting the materials we would need, as well as doing a little research on how to tap a tree. We used our classroom iPad and began to look up videos on tapping trees, pictures of buckets lining trees, and the information necessary to successfully tap. We purchased the materials we would need (bucket and lid, spile) and introduced these materials to the toddlers, helping to foster language and literacy skills by introducing new words to their ever growing vocabulary.


toddle child with the help of an educator drilling a hole in a maple tree toddler girl watching from below while hole is drilled in to a maple tree


The end of February to the beginning of March is when the weather warms enough to enable the sap to flow steadily, when the temperature is above 0 during the day but still cooler at night. Finally, the weather began to warm and we used all of the knowledge we learned to determine the best week to tap the tree and got to work. Laura brought in a drill and a bit that was the same size of the spile, measured out 2 inches, and encouraged the children to hold the drill along with her while we made the initial hole. Of course we implemented safety skills, asking the children to wear goggles while we worked in order to protect our eyes from any bits of wood that would fly from the tree while drilling. Henry and Kayla were the first to help with the drill, both smiling as they felt the vibrations from the drill. Kayla exclaimed in surprise when the sap began to flow from the hole.


taping the tree with a spile

toddler girl trying to catch the dripping sap with her tongue


Next we inserted the spile! This required the use of a hammer, but first we decided we would try a mallet. Adeline picked the mallet up and Laura used hand-over-hand to guide her towards the spile. As sap started to drip down the spile we asked Adeline if she wanted to taste it. “Yes!” Adeline said and stuck out her tongue, trying to catch a drop as it dripped out. This was a wonderful way to use our sense of taste, as well as touch as Adeline collected drops on her hand. “It’s a little sticky, isn’t it?” Vanessa asked.


To end our tapping, we placed the bucket onto the spile hook. Here we fostered problem solving skills, as well as cause and effect as we had difficulties getting the bucket to stay steady on the hook. Any time a toddler would touch the bucket, it would fall off the hook. We tried adding another hook, manipulating the hook, placing the lid onto the spile and bucket- finally we discovered we needed a hammer, and not a mallet, to insert the spile further into the tree, thereby steadying the hook and the bucket. 


toddler boy looking in the sap bucket

Toddler boy holding the malet and testing in on the tree













The next day we checked on our bucket and found about an inch of sap had collected inside! Together Ivy and Tobias poured the bucket into a jar where we will collect and store our sap. We marked a line on the jar indicating how much sap we collected in only one day.


two toddler children inspecting the sap bucketTwo toddler children examining the sap collected















Throughout this entire activity the children were extremely engaged. They were able to participate in every step of the tapping, and even recreated the tapping by picking up the mallets and hitting the tree with them, fostering role play and engaging their memory recollection. This was also a wonderful way for us to connect with nature and bring that nature into our play. We are so excited to see how much sap we can collect over the next few weeks, and hopefully we can make a small batch of Maple Syrup to enjoy with pancakes one day.






Contact Us

55 Hammet Street
Cambridge, Ontario
N3C 2H5

Hours of Operation
6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

(519) 220-1148


portrait of lisa

Lisa Rintoul, RECE

Headshot of Tracey Ruppenthal

Tracey Ruppenthal, RECE
Assistant Supervisor