Yesterday, the fourth grade classes participated in making and eating pancakes.
This was not so special in and of itself. The special part was that THEY had made the maple syrup last spring as third graders.
In Vermont, when the snow begins to melt and the nights are still freezing but the days are warm, students grow restless to be outdoors. What better way to welcome spring than to discover a few sugar maples on the playground whose circumference was big enough to accommodate some sap buckets? Students drilled holes for the taps, hung the buckets and checked each morning to see whether those buckets were filling with sap. Cold nights and warm days encourage the best sap runs. These lucky third graders had a cook stove in their classroom. While they did their math and reading lessons, the sap boiled merrily on the stove, sending the sweet smell of syrup throughout the school. They hypothesized about the cause and effect of evaporation and sweeter syrup. Did you know that it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup? YIKES, no wonder real maple syrup is so expensive!
The thermometer was the final determiner of our finished syrup. These industrious children boiled quite a bit of sap down to syrup. We sent some extra sap home with our principal, Mr. Tullar, who has a sugaring operation of his own at home. He brought us back a couple of more quarts of beautiful maple syrup.
Children also learned how to make maple sugar candy, a tradition that’s been handed down from our Native American forebears here in Vermont. We had a more recent teacher: Doug Harlow from Harlow’s Sugar House.
Hooray for a look back on a full year of cooking and learning!