Some people are still getting blasted with snow and we’ve seen more rain than sun in months, but when March arrives, no matter the current weather, we know that Spring is around the corner!
If you have older children, they are probably itching to get outside (and will soon enough be itching because of bugs)! They can feel the fresh air and sunshine calling their minds and bodies. After months of being cooped up inside, they are ready to embrace the outdoors and longer days ahead. So out the door they go.
For those of you with young children, YOU may be ready to get outdoors! There truly is something to be said for sunshine. But what can you do with your young children who may not be ready to shoot baskets or ride down the street on their bikes?
It’s time to introduce Spring to your littles! Some of your children may not even remember the previous Spring, so getting a jumpstart on the changing seasons is perfect for explaining new growth and coming changes they will begin to notice outdoors. Plus, there are so many things you can do to make daily outings exciting for your young ones! For example, as soon as those daffodils peek their heads up from the ground and you notice color starting to pop out on bushes and trees, take your child outside to observe. Start with things she can see with her eyes…”What color is that flower?” “Look how tall the tree is?” “What color is the sky today?” You can move on to what she smells. “Can you smell the flower? Do you like that?” Try various flowers or grass or mulch. (My allergies are starting to kick in just from writing this!) Or maybe focus on sounds you hear as you walk in your yard. Listen for birds, bees, wind, etc. Every day is different, and as Spring arrives, changes will take place right before her eyes.
One of my children’s favorite activity when Spring rolls around is our Spring scavenger hunt. You’ll need a chart and t’s easy to make and reuse! Take a piece of printer paper and with a marker, draw a line down the middle. Then, draw 5 lines horizontally, so you will end up with a grid of 12 empty rectangles. In each rectangle, draw a picture of something (no artistic abilities necessary) you might see or hear on a walk. I draw things like birds, lawnmowers, dogs, mail trucks, etc. Once you make your chart, laminate it, so it can be reused. Then grab your stroller or your child’s hand and bring a dry-erase marker on your walk. Let your child mark each item he sees or hears. He’ll be excited to try and complete the chart and when he’s begging to do it again the next day, all you have to do is grab tissue, erase the marks made and it’s ready to go again!
But what if you’re already noticing the seasonal changes in the air? You may need limit your outdoor time until the itchy eyes and scratchy throat goes away. That’s rough, but there’s still plenty of things that can be done from indoors to introduce Spring to your little ones. Make a quick outing to your local library and you’ll have piles of books with information and stories about Spring. One of our favorite picture books is The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. The story starts in a dreary city just waking from winter. A young boy notices a few weeds and flowers just starting to grow and he’s curious. It’s a beautiful book and a perfect example of how seasons change and yet each spring, with a little help, things begin to grow again. Check it out if you get the chance!
Once you’ve read all you can read about Spring, but aren’t quite ready to head outside, consider craft time! With volatile spring weather approaching, you never know what to expect from day to day! My youngest child enjoys our daily ritual of opening the curtains in his room each day to see what the weather is like. Lately, he’s been saying, “It’s a rainy day again!” 😩Ha! Something we have enjoyed in our house is a weather wheel. Grab a paper plate and with a pen, divide it into quarters. In one pie section, draw a sun (again, no artistic skills needed, your children will be able to decipher!). In another, draw rain clouds and/or an umbrella. In the other sections fill in as you choose. You can play meteorologist, you don’t need me to tell you! After your drawings are completed, if you have a brass brad laying around, you can poke it through the center of your wheel and add a “pointer” with construction paper. Or, you can keep it simple and use your child’s finger as the pointer! Talk about what kind of weather they see outside. See if they are able to draw any conclusions about what kind of weather may be on its way (gray clouds often mean rain, etc). And often, in the spring, your weather wheel will change multiple times a day!
Whether it’s with books, crafts, scavenger hunts or any other ideas you find to welcome spring with your little one, enjoy making the memories. Your child will follow your lead!