On March 20th, the first official day of spring, the sun was shining and the birds were indeed chirping. Mother Nature was without question celebrating the end of winter, and so were we! My mom was on her way up for a three day visit, and we had a morning to kill with the woods in our yard and on our street beckoning for us to come and play.
Thus I printed out a fabulous worksheet brought to me by The Educator’s Spin On It and their Afterschool Express–worth a weekly visit, I assure you!–and the kids and I set off to search for signs of spring.
I am a humanities girl at heart, but even I enjoy this kind of delve into the scientific realm. The art of observation is not lost on me, and it does more than thrill young children. The mere acts of looking, listening, touching, and smelling, which are so mundane as to be unconscious to us adults, are actually beyond stimulating and exciting to kids, and my three- and one-year-old bought in on this springtime expedition hook, line, and sinker.
First, we sat on our steps and observed. What did we hear? What did we see? Jax was quick to make things up, but once he realized this activity was not just a game but actually served a purpose, he quickly changed his attitude and got with the program. Birds, clouds, animals, grass–everything became very interesting, and the kids became very present in their surroundings.
The hunt began for things to touch, see, hear, and smell. We checked in on the bird’s nest that has rested secure in a fallen tree since Hurricane Irene last fall.
Jax loves to wonder: where did the birds go? Were there eggs in there when the tree fell? Would they come back? I sincerely hope some animal moves in their someday–it would be the highlight of the year!
Em was definitely the more adventurous of the two–maybe because this is the first spring she can really understand, and maybe because Jax has the jaded superiority of a three-year-old. “Those are pine needles. That’s moss. That’s tree bark.” Whereas Em found the entire process miraculous.
Jax was more interested in what kind of animal probably lives in here:
He opted for skunk, so now we call it The Skunk House. In my limited, based-on-Animal-Planet kind of knowledge, I saw no evidence of any type of animal habitating there, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be soon!
The other main attraction of our Signs of Spring walk, as it is every day, is the waterfall that spouts from the culvert across the street.
Notice the ice still lingering around it? We went down there a few days later and it was all gone. Nothing explains the wonders of nature to kids better than when something just “disappears,” even if it is ice. The water cycle, right before our eyes.
After we traipsed about for a bit, the lure of the unpaved road and its muddy splendor was too strong to resist.
So sticky and gooey that his boot got sucked clean off! Just stuck his dirty sock in my pocket and carried on. That’s how we roll in Vermont during Mud Season.
Then we headed home and finished filling in our chart.
Jax’s favorite sign of spring was “squirrels chattering.” At first it was “seeing a rainbow,” but when I reminded him that we had not, in fact, seen a rainbow, he chose something a bit more accurate. We did a similar walk a few days later, this time armed with good friends, two magnifying glasses, a bug catcher, and a kiddie camera–it was just as big a hit as it was before! I think taking the time to observe and enjoy nature and our surroundings is going to be a recurring scene this year! We’ll see if any remarkable discoveries come our way!