Sugaring Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.

Learn about the science and history of maple sugaring by spending a morning or an afternoon observing the maple sugaring process from sap to syrup. By the end of this sweet experience, your group will not only know the science behind the process of maple of sugaring, they will also know how to identify a sugar maple tree and be more aware of the effects of changing seasons.


  • Maple syrup production is one of America’s oldest crops.
  • The tradition of producing maple syrup began with Native Americans.
  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
  • It takes 40 to 50 years for a sugar maple tree to be big enough to tap.
  • Quebec produces two-thirds of the world’s syrup.
  • If stored properly, a sealed container of maple syrup can last for several years.


  • Visit the PBS LearningMedia website for some intriguing discussion questions on maple syrup and maple sugaring.
  • Begin a conversation about the traditions and customs of American Indians.
  • Review the vocabulary of maple sugaring.
  • Call ahead about to schedule an in-season trip for your class, scout, or homeschool group.


  • Sap (n): the watery fluid that circulates through a plant and contains sugar and minerals.
  • Cambium (n): the green, living part of a tree.
  • Sapwood (n): the outer, new layer of wood found between the cambium and the heartwood; sap runs into it.
  • Bark (n): the tough, protective outer sheath of the trunk, branches and twigs of a tree or woody shrub.
  • Xylem (n): the tissue in plants that conducts water and nutrients upward from the root; the tissue that helps to form the woody element in the stem
  • Photosynthesis (n): the process by which green plants and other organisms use light to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water.
  • Tap (v): to drill into a sugar maple tree to draw off some of the sap.


  • Field Trip lesson connections provide a range of opportunities for learning how to locate a sugar maple tree during maple sugaring season without its characteristic leaves, the effects of changing seasons on the plant life, and how maple syrup is made.
    • Discover the impact of temperatures (lows and highs) on the growth of living things.
    • Learn about photosynthesis, the process that occurs in green plants when chlorophyll, activated by sunlight, converts carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen.
    • Explore how sugar is not only a plant’s food but is also produced through photosynthesis.
    • Learn how sap is distilled into syrup through the chemistry of the boiling process.
    • Learn about the layers of a tree (bark, cambium, ect…) and the functions of the layers.
    • Identify winter trees using branches, buds and bark.
    • Learn about the importance of maple syrup to Native American cultures.



  • Bring the sweet science and history of maple sugar production back to your classroom with:
    • Make a visual chart that depicts the various steps of the maple sugaring process. Divide the class into small groups and assign each group one of the steps of maple sugaring. Hang the finished chart where everyone can see it.
    • Have students write a letter discussing their favorite part of the maple sugaring experience.
    • Discuss the traditions or customs of American Indians.