We went on a field trip with other homeschoolers to a local university that teaches people about making maple syrup. We went on a similar trip two years ago to a local syrup producer, but this trip was more hands-on.
The kids got to choose a tree to tap and help drill the hole.
The most important information they offered was where to buy supplies to do it ourselves. For some reason, I've never looked into it. Turns out, a hardware store right by our home sells everything we need. Spiles (the little spout) are three dollars. That's all you really need, since we already own a drill, but we bought two jars and buckets, too. Within an hour of the field trip, we had three trees in our yard tapped.
I tried two different buckets and one milk jug. I like the milk jug option; it's easier to keep little pieces of bark out. After this first experiment, we might buy some filters, too. Or maybe the spiles that use a plastic bag to collect sap.
I'm very happy with the results. We had about two-and-a-half gallons of sap and made two small bottles of syrup in three hours. It's really good and very sweet. It's lighter than I expected, but I've had some experience making candy and could tell when the syrup was ready. If I were judging just by color, the syrup would have burned.
Ironically, the syrup is so sweet, it reminds me a little of corn syrup. It tastes better, though. It's amazing that it came out of our trees!