Maple Syrup

This program is ONLY AVAILABLE February 19th, 2019 - April 5th, 2019.  Schools are chosen on a rotating basis.

The maple syrup program at Forest Valley is offered during the early spring when the ground is starting to thaw and the maple sap is flowing.  Classes who are participating in the maple syrup programming have the opportunity to explore, investigate and take part in this unique Canadian experience.    This is a cross-curricular program which addresses components of STEM, Eco-literacy and Aboriginal Education.

In Grade 3 Maple syrup as a study of…. 
Growth and changes in plants (Plants have distinct characteristics, they are important to the planet) 
How does harvesting sap impact the maple trees? 


  • Plants are a source of food, shelter, shade, oxygen, etc. 
  •  Plants maintain a healthy place for all living things. 
  •  The maple tree produces sugars in the leaves of the tree through photosynthesis. The sugars are used to create cellulose to grow. Some is stored in the roots and trunk of the tree over the winter. The stored sugars are dissolved in water taken from the soil to bring the sugars to the new buds. Humans (and some other animals such as sapsuckers/birds) put a hole in the tree when the sap is moving in order to drink the sweet liquid or to collect and boil it to make maple syrup. 
  • All trees have sap. However, it is the properties of maple sap (higher sugar content) and taste that makes it useful for making syrup. There are a few other types of syrup made from trees (e.g. palm, sugar cane and birch syrup.) Humans can harm maple trees by doing such things as taking too much sap from the tree by putting on too many buckets, tapping trees that are too small, using pesticides, etc . They care by showing respect for the trees in the forest, protecting forest habitat, using energy efficient equipment, etc. 

Soils in the environment (Soil is an essential source of life and nutrients for many living things.) 
How does soil quality impact the production of maple syrup? 



  •  Soil provides the nutrients that trees need to grow. 
  •  It provides a medium for tree roots to anchor into to withstand forces such as blowing wind. 
  •  Humans can maintain the health of the soil by leaving nutrients such as deadfall wood on the ground to decompose, putting woodchips on trails to minimize erosion and compaction around tree roots, not using pesticides, staying on trails, etc.) 

Communities in Canada 1780-1850 
How might your experience of making maple syrup compare to that of settler or First Nations groups? 



  •  In early settler times the whole process of making syrup was achieved using human or other animal power (e.g. early settlers would collect each bucket of sap by hand, each tree would be tapped using a human powered drill, wood would be chopped by hand with an axe, horses used to pull a sleigh). 
  •  The process was labour intensive and very hard work. 
  •  Forest Valley uses many of the same methods used in early settler times (without the horses!). 
  • For most large scale modern day maple syrup producers, the process is much more mechanized. Sap is collected with machines such as tractors, or plastic tubing and vacuum pumps, evaporators run on fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas. 
  •  Making maple syrup was an important source of sugar and in some cases income for early settler families. It was also a lot of work (cutting wood for evaporating, tapping each tree, collecting sap, working long days). 
  •  At Forest Valley, students are introduced to some of the early settler ways of collecting sap. Students explore the idea of the benefits of a sugar source (for cooking, eating) with the work involved with making maple syrup.