Spring is a time for awakenings, full of opportunities to integrate activities that promote learning in everyday situations. I enjoy taking neighborhood walks with my grandchildren as we can see the new signs of spring: tulips and daffodils arising from the ground and forsythia beginning to bloom. It is also a time to think about what you can do around your home to spruce it up and how the children can help. Begin by planting sunflower, marigold or similar plants near your walkways or in the garden, so that your children can watch them grow. Sunflowers are great plants to measure and graph their growth over time. Using a ruler or yardstick, have your child measure the growth once a week and graph it on a chart. This is a skill that children will need for kindergarten. Watch the blossoms form and measure the different sizes they grow into. In the late summer and early fall, birds will enjoy eating the sunflower seeds.
Spring is a magnificent time to use our five senses: feeling and touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing. Building a spring terrarium not only brings nature inside but as a little garden, children can watch it grow. As you build it, feel the textures of the different mosses (collected throughout the year), the dirt and sand, and other components of the terrarium. See https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/gardening/indoor/how-make-terrarium.
Tasting experiments can include the first vegetables of the season: fresh spinach, lettuce and snow peas. All have different textures and tastes. Though your child may not like something the first time they taste it, it takes 3-12 times of trying something new to acquire a taste for it. Other foods to try include whole grains such as crunchy crackers, apples and other fruits, or make a snack mix of different leftover cereals.
Listening to different sounds helps your child develop phonemic awareness or the ability to differentiate sounds. While taking a walk, listen to the sounds in the neighborhood: cars, birds, sirens, children playing and airplanes. Asking your child to tell you what it is encourages conversations. On the walk, look for bird nests and animal homes, such a leaf nests in trees that squirrels have built.
Mud play is a fun activity. Take a large bowl, pan or wheelbarrow and mix dirt and water. Let the children squeeze the mud between their fingers. They can create blocks and other figures and let them dry. Remember, as a young child playing in mud, wasn’t it fun? Playing with different messy concoctions helps children to develop their sense of feeling as well as to ask questions while they are playing with it. How does it feel? Is it wet or dry? What can they build with it as it dries and can they write their name in it?
Spring is a wonderful time to get outside more, enjoy the changes around us and get ready for the coming summer.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.