There is just something magical about Maple Sugaring stories and paintings. I’ve dreamt of visiting Vermont since I received the most wonderful coloring book from there after my Uncle and Aunt honeymooned there decades ago. I still have that book with it’s thick lined drawings of snow and sleighs, and monstrous maple trees with buckets and laughing families having sugaring parties. Sugaring is so intriguing! I am delighted to be able to try it our this year with my boys.
*Disclosure: I received Tap My Trees Teacher Kit for free and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.*
I was so happy to learn that it’s possible to tap trees in Northeast Tennessee! Mr. Simerly has been doing so for several years now (he recommends the Tap my Trees Kit) and we have some wonderful friends who are sharing in this adventure with us since Georgia is a bit far south. We did, however, do identification and exploration of our maples and will be trying out a tap on a large red maple in February or March when the weather is right just to see how it works in warmer climates. I can’t wait!
I was surprised how much the boys loved identifying the trees. They really got into the different leaf shapes and colors. We had a lot of fun rambling through our wood and exploring and Mr. T even remembered which leaf was with when we returned with our collection to the house. How do you identify what type of maple you have?
Identifying Maple Trees for Tapping
There are many ways to identify trees. Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring at Home guide has lots of great information on the maple trees in it. There are also field guides, our favorite is Audubon First Field Guide. We used our LeafSnap app for tree identification assistance. I love all the information like bark, leaf color, etc., but don’t rely on the actual pictures you take because that part didn’t work too well for us.
To Identify a Maple Tree:
- Start with the leaves. Different types of Maple trees have different leaf shapes. For sugaring you should be looking for (in this order) Sugar, Black, Red, Silver maples. You can also make syrup from Birch and Walnut trees. I was not aware of that and would love to try some birch syrup! You can also identify trees through their bark, seeds, and other parts but the leaves, especially in their fall colors are by far the simplest way.
- Know that different trees grow in different regions. Don’t expect to find a Sugar maple in Georgia.
- When they are identified, mark your trees! Tap My Trees recommends a map, but we opted for tying the trunks with the nylon “tape” they use for marking property lines. Our yard is woods so we decided this would be more accurate than relying on my mapping skills.
Here is a wonderful video from Tap My Trees about identification.
The kit has everything you need for tapping your trees! It includes the Maple Sugaring at Home guide, teacher lesson guide, the spile and hook, the collection bucket, the drill bit, the thermometer, maple syrup filters and cheese cloth, and a glass container for your final product. There are multiple kits available. This one is for families wanting to tap more than one tree!
Resources for Elementary Studies on Maple Sugaring
While we may live in south Georgia where it’s too warm for much sugaring, these wonderful resources will light up your elementary winter studies! For projects that use Maple Syrup, we recommend Grade B from Thrive Market. It’s got a stronger maple flavor and it makes amazing candy! I’m excited for all the great books and activities we are going to be doing. We’ll be sharing more as we get further into our studies. The boys are especially excited to use the syrup, but who wouldn’t be?
It’s Maple Syrup Time unit from Currclick
There are many possibilities for a unit on Maple Sugaring! Making maple syrup offers learning opportunities in many areas: Science, Math, History, Art, Writing, Cooking, and Nature. There is a Lesson Plan included in the Teacher Kit that goes into more detail.
Did you know? It is well documented that native Indians in the United States and Canada were the first producers of maple products. Native Indians were more likely to either drink the sap or make maple sugar products, as there was no easy way to store a liquid syrup. Early European settlers learned maple sap collection and processing skills from these native Indians. Over the years, the process of collecting and processing sap has been refined.
This winter is looking more and more fun. Now if it would just get cold . . .
Find Tap My Trees online:
See our results and how to make maple candy here: