The sunny and warmer days of spring are a welcome change after the long, cold winter. Find ways to introduce fun activities and explain spring to your children to break up those winter blues.
Celebrate Earth Day
Earth Day is celebrated April 22, usually as spring's warmer weather is beginning. You can teach your child about conserving resources and taking care of the planet with some recycling games and demonstrations of how to save energy.
Recycling and Conservation
Walk through your house and talk about shutting off the lights, helping a younger child by lifting her up to reach the switch. Discuss how to conserve water when brushing his teeth and help him turn the faucet off and on. Collect old clothing to donate to a shelter or consignment shop to keep it off landfills. Make recycling fun by purchasing colorful bins, and then make a game of who can sort the cans or paper faster.
Planting a Garden
Nothing says spring like fresh flowers or a vegetable garden. Take your child in the backyard with a shovel and watering can, pick an area of your yard to start, and dig some holes to plant easy to grow flowers, like zinnias or peonies. You can plant in a small pot or flowerbox with potting soil if you do not have a large yard or live in an apartment. Discuss the colors and sizes of the flowers with your child for a learning experience. Give her the responsibility of watering the plants and making sure they get sunlight everyday.
Seedling Hair Salon
Use Styrofoam or plastic cups your child can decorate to create her own plant friend. The cup canbe decorated as a face by using markers, mount of potting soil, and then purchase small seedlings or packets of seed to plant in them. As the seedlings or seeds grow, you can help your child trim the "hair" on her plant friend.
Sneaking in Healthy Food
Planting a vegetable garden is an exciting activity for your child, since she can see and eat the fruits of her labor (and you can sneak some extra healthy food into her diet). Choose hearty plants, like tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots, and let your child take part in daily watering and weeding. You can use this opportunity to talk about how the plant grows, why growing your own food is healthier and even let her help cook a new recipe when the vegetables are ripe.
New Animal Watching
Spring is a time when animals come out of hibernation, birds build nests and baby animals are born. Insects are crawling out of the ground and can be found in trees or on the lawn. Getting outside to look at all the new life can be interesting for you and your child. Buy a magnifying glass or bug collecting kit and take a walk around your neighborhood. Collect some ladybugs or beetles if your child is not squeamish about picking up insects. Observe the different birds flying and try to find a nest to look at. Use a pair of binoculars to look into trees and help your child identify the different species he sees. Take a trip to a nearby zoo or animal shelter to teach your child about the different animal species.
My Bug Buddies
Have your child create his own bug family with a fun craft you can do together. You can have a younger children draw pictures of the insects or birds and explain the different parts (for example, birds have wings, bugs have six legs, and so on). Use a Styrofoam egg carton, pipe cleaners, craft eyes, pompoms, construction paper and hot glue to create a variety of bugs your child can display and play with. Use several links of the carton to make a caterpillar, two or three for a butterfly and one for ladybugs or beetles. Use a cleaned out milk jug to create a bird feeder by cutting a small section out of the front. Fill with birdseed and hang from a tree or pole in your yard. You can also leave out straw and pieces of cotton batting for the birds to make their spring nests.
Many zoos offer adoption programs to help your child learn more about animals in the wild. The National Zoo in Washington D.C. has the FONZ program for adopting a variety of endangered species, and the World Wildlife Foundation has over 100 species of animals available to adopt.
Rainy Days and Sunny Skies
Warmer weather, rainy days and sunny skies with rainbows give you the opportunity to teach your child about the Earth, colors and cause and effect. You can place a cup or other collection device outside during a rainstorm then measure the rainfall with a ruler. Point out the colors of a rainbow to your toddler or explain how a rainbow is made from reflective light to your school-age child. Put on your rain boots and slickers, splash in some puddles and take a break from the doldrums of winter. Use dishwashing liquid and water to make homemade bubbles for your child to run though. Your child will appreciate being outdoors after a long, cold winter.
Other Ideas and Resources
Take advantage of books, particularly ones that provide lesson plans or activities for you and your child. What Makes A Rainbow by Betty Schwartz is a cute book that teaches children the colors of the rainbow with corresponding colored insects. It's Spring by Linda Glaser offers your child a variety of information on this season of new beginnings. Explore Spring: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring by Maxine Anderson provides you and your child with experiments, activities and vocabulary centered around springtime.