Spring Activities for You and Your Family
Posted on March 1, 2018 by CHS
During the spring season, children usually learn about the weather and how things grow. They may also celebrate Earth Day at school by planting trees or practicing conservation habits such as picking up trash and recycling. You can support and reinforce your child’s learning by reading books together about springtime and having fun with the activities below.
Explore the Season of Spring
This is the time of year when the earth springs to life. Flowers are in bloom, animals are having babies, and seeds are being planted. Visit your local library to check out children’s books about spring. Visit the Reading Rockets website to see a list of books. Make Newspaper Sunhats, and walk to a nearby park to see what flowers are in bloom. Talk about the different colors you see and make a Flower Tape Bracelet. Gather nature items in a bag that can be used to make other art projects later.
Once you are home, invite your child to use the collected nature items to decorate their newspaper sunhat, glue them onto paper to make pictures, use them for Nature Weaving, or explore The Fine Art of Flower Pounding. Infants and toddlers can also explore nature with close supervision. Take some of the gathered items and create these Nature Inspired Sensory Bottles for infants and toddlers to explore safely. Make sure you glue the lids on! If you do not have plastic bottles, you can also make Sensory Bags.
Encourage your child to explore how colors can blend together in order to make new colors. All you need is a plastic eye dropper, red, blue, and yellow food coloring, water, three containers, and some coffee filters. Click here to see a video of the activity. Red, blue, and yellow are Primary colors. Your child can discover the secondary colors of green, purple, and orange by mixing primary colors (red and blue make purple, blue and yellow make green, and red and yellow make orange).
When you visit a park, bring an old sheet with you and do a Sheet Shake to look for bugs. Learn about which bugs and insects are beneficial to gardens, and which ones are harmful to gardens here. Insects and bugs can be beneficial to gardens for two reasons. Insects like lady bugs are beneficial to gardens because they eat the aphids that destroy roses and other flowers. Bees and butterflies are beneficial to gardens because they are pollinators who help more flowers grow.
Children can draw the bugs and insects they find, make lists of which bugs help gardens and which are harmful, and tally how many times they see each type of bug. School age children can create bugs, insects, and animals with their thumbprint. You can find more activities for learning about insects and bugs on the Buggy and Buddy website.
Make birdfeeders and hang them from a tree so that your child can observe the different birds in your area. Save lint from the dryer, hair from hairbrushes, or scraps of yarn and place it outside for birds to find and use to make their nests. If you’re lucky you might get to see baby birds hatch!
Encourage your child to notice changes in the weather. He can explore how wind works by creating homemade wind chimes or wind socks. He can also learn about rain by making a rain gauge to measure rainfall, or by having fun with these activities.
Children of all ages enjoy learning about farm animals and growing food. Start by planning a trip to the library to look for books. Click here for a list of books about farms by Reading Rockets and take a look at their Kindergarten Reading Adventure Pack on Farms. Plan a day trip to a local farm or farmers market. Find a location near you here. Visiting a working farm is a wonderful way for your child to learn where fruits and vegetables come from.
Preschool aged children may enjoy this simple Farm Sensory Play Activity where they use recycled items to make a barn for plastic animals. An activity that will help children build their finger strength and dexterity is to Weave Wooly Sheep. School age children might enjoy making animals using the ancient Japanese art of Origami (paper folding).
Holidays to Celebrate
If your family chooses to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th, you can find some fun craft projects on the Activity Village website or the PBS website. You can also give your child an engineering challenge by asking her to create the perfect Leprechaun Trap. Celebrate the day by making this delicious and healthy Shamrock Shake, or make Shamrock Juice by adding green food coloring to any light colored juice such as apple or white grape.
The purpose for celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd is for children to learn about ecology and develop a sense of stewardship for the Earth. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.” Research shows that when children have positive experiences with nature and spend a lot of time playing outdoors, they are more likely to care about what happens to the Earth when they grow up.
Your family can participate in an Earth Day Event, or you can celebrate at home by starting a garden. If you are new to gardening, you will want to start small. Your child can plant Beans in a Baggie and watch them grow in a window, or you can use old newspapers to make paper pots for planting one or two seeds. Once the seeds grow for a few months, you can plant the entire paper pot in the ground to create a garden. Click here to see a video from Life Lab on how to make paper pots to plant flower and vegetable seeds that you can purchase from dollar stores. Tape the seed packet to a stick and put it in the paper pot so you remember what is growing. Help your child keep a journal of how often they water the plant and how it grows. She can draw pictures of the plant each time it changes.
Encourage your child to help you recycle and repurpose items you would normally throw away. Take a look at some of the ideas for repurposing items from Hands On As We Grow. You can also use containers to catch rainwater for watering plants or take a trip to the recycle center to drop off glass, plastic, or tin items. Talk to your child about how simple things like turning off lights when we leave a room, or turning off the water while you brush your teeth, can help make a difference. These are activities that help us conserve or protect our resources.
Visit your local library and read these books to your child. They will help you explain the importance of conservation (preservation and protection of the environment) and ecology (studying how living things interact and affect each other).
- A Cool Drink of Water by Barbara Kerley (ages 4 to 8)
- Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals (ages 3 to 7)
- From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons (ages 4 to 8)
- Recycling Is Fun by Charles Ghigna (ages 2 to 5)
- Ten Things I Can do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh (ages 3 to 7)
- The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry (ages 4 to 7)
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (ages 3 and up)
- The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca (ages 4 to 8)
- What Do You See? A Lift-the-Flap Book About Endangered Animals by Stephen Krensky (ages 2 to 5)
- Where Do Garbage Trucks Go?: And Other Questions About Trash and Recycling by Ben Richmond (ages 6 and up)
For more learning ideas read our blog on Learning from Nature, or investigate the resources below.
References and Resources
- “Children Who Play Outside are More Likely to Protect Nature as Adults” by Patty Wellborn: https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2017/03/17/children-who-play-outside-more-likely-to-protect-nature-as-adults/
- Easy Origami by John Montroll: https://www.amazon.com/Origami-Dover-Papercraft-simple-projects/dp/0486272982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519152182&sr=8-1&keywords=easy+origami
- Ed Emberley's Complete Funprint Drawing Book: https://www.amazon.com/Emberleys-Complete-Funprint-Drawing-Book/dp/0316174483/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518643369&sr=8-2&keywords=thumbprint+drawing
- Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn Kohl https://www.amazon.com/Good-Earth-Art-Environmental-Learning/dp/0935607013/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1518822466&sr=8-16&keywords=maryann+kohl
- Life Lab in Santa Cruz, California (garden activity videos and resources for starting school gardens): http://www.lifelab.org/
- The Best-Ever Step-by-Step Kid's First Gardening: Fantastic Gardening Ideas For 5 To 12 Year-Olds, From Growing Fruit And Vegetables And Fun With Flowers To Wildlife Gardening And Outdoor Crafts by Jenny Hendy: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Ever-Step-Step-First-Gardening/dp/178214191X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1519151641&sr=8-4&keywords=wildlife+gardening