How to Make
Your Own Maple
1. Find a maple tree at least 10
inches in diameter. Drill a hole on
the sunny side of the tree.
2. Hammer a spile into the hole and
hang your container just below it.
A cover over the pail will help
keep the sap clean.
3. Boil your sap (outdoors if possible),
making sure there is always an inch
of liquid left in your pot.
4. Calculate the day’s boiling point of
water by checking a pot of boiling
water with a cooking thermometer.
(Barometric pressure can change it
from its usual 212° Fahrenheit.)
Add 40°. At this temperature, your
sap is 66% sugar and is officially
5. Filter your syrup through cheesecloth and store it in a sterilized
Sugar on Snow—
A Tasty Treat!
Heat 1 quart of syrup and 1/4 of a
teaspoon of butter on the stove, stirring constantly. Boil the syrup to
232° Fahrenheit. Allow it to cool
slightly before pouring the hot, thick
syrup on a snow-filled or crushed
ice-filled cookie sheet. Enjoy!
How does sap
Warm days and cold nights pressurize carbon dioxide gas inside
maple trees, forcing the sap to
move. Since the pressure inside the
tree is greater than pressure outside
the tree, sap will trickle out of any
holes that are drilled.
170 Homeschool Units
Have older students explain the
process of reverse osmosis and how it
relates to large maple sugaring operations.
Discuss the ecological principles of
syrup making and how to be a good
steward of God’s gift of maple trees.
Read Native American legends about
how it was discovered that sap from
maple trees could be made into syrup,
such as the Iroquois legend of Chief
Woksis or the story of Nanabush.
Have students research the syrup
harvesting process from its early days
of collection in clay and bark vessels to
modern-day methods that incorporate
reverse osmosis reduction, steam- and
oil-powered evaporation, and vacuum
Have students research why abolitionist friends of Thomas Jefferson
hoped maple sugar might help end the
slave trade. (See The Maple Sugaring
Story: A Guide for Teaching and
Learning the Maple Industry, 1990.)
Use blank maps of the northeastern
United States and southeastern Canada
to have students show the limited
climate suitable for growing syrup-producing trees.
Discuss the concepts of exporting
and importing, and have students
research and graph which provinces
and states are the leading producers of
Learn about the Quebec culture and
its “sugaring off” traditions.
Introduce or reinforce the concepts of
percentages and ratio. Have students
graph what percent of sap is actually
sugar. Even younger children can draw
forty “pails” of sap to visualize how
they are equal to only one gallon of
Help students apply their knowledge
of temperature to syrup production.
Have them research at what temperature sap becomes syrup and why this
can change from one day to the next.
Enjoy reading Newbery Award-winning
Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia
Read and discuss the maple syrup
process as depicted in children’s literature, using excerpts from classic works
such as Little House in the Big Woods
(pp. 117–130), Newbery Award winner
Calico Bush (pp. 152–155), and The
Birchbark House (pp. 194–208). Have
older students compare and contrast the
sap collection and syrup making
process at the three different periods of
American history and locations with
which they correspond (Maine, 1743;
Wisconsin, 1870s; an island in Lake
Superior, 1847 [inhabited by the
Ojibwa tribe near Minnesota]).
Have students investigate the health
benefits of maple syrup (which not only
has fewer calories by volume than
either sugar or honey, but is a source of
several minerals and even amino acids
Experiment with new recipes that use
maple syrup as the sweetener. Some
worth finding include maple caramel
corn, maple marinated chicken wings,
and maple baked beans. For additional
recipes, see The Maple Syrup Cookbook
by Ken Haednon, 2001.
Spelling and Vocabulary
Spelling and vocabulary words range
from words for the second-grader
(roots, axe, maple, spile) to upper
elementary (syrup, sugar, evaporator,
production) to even older students
(mechanism, hydrometer, commercial,
In comic-strip fashion, have students
illustrate the sequence of events in the
syrup making process.
If you live in a sugar-producing region
and have access to maple trees,
consider applying newfound knowledge
to an attempt at tapping and boiling
your own syrup. Another option is to
contact area nature centers. Many offer
seasonal exhibits you can observe as a
family or with a group of other homeschoolers. Be sure to celebrate the
harvest with a meal together!