We gratefully accept the presence of the thawing warmth of spring with gratitude and open arms. The early signs of nature waking give themselves away in the increasingly brown puddles on the mudroom floor. Spring is celebrated with absolute delight in our family, and I’ve included here some of our most beloved spring projects and adventures.
Before our Boston landscape adopts its lush green summer self, we are surrounded in the early spring by mud that carves its way between the tread of our boots and under our fingernails. We embrace the mud, fleeing outdoors to lie on the saturated ground before it is even quite ready to receive us. In my mind, getting dirty is a fundamental right in childhood. I’ve often prescribed dirt therapy to my kids when the obligations and order of regular life seem to be weighing on them. They respond to my gentle nudge with unreserved glee, pouncing on puddles, exploring earth worms, and making mud pies.
Seed-sowing is a wonderful early spring activity that connects children to nature and gives you an opportunity to impart scientific knowledge to them through fun learning at home. You can create the greenhouse seed bed below by saving toilet paper rolls and a plastic cookie bin. Sprouting seeds is not limited to a garden project though; you can also grow your own oak tree or sprout beans or potatoes in your kitchen.
One of our favorite early spring activities is taking a walk in the woods. A walk in the woods that yields a destination, such as a park, is met with bounding, yelling, and singing. But when a walk in the woods is the destination, such as for a scavenger hunt, the journey can be met with more quiet resolve. To be the champion bird-watcher or acorn-finder can be such a treat for a willing child. Observation may seem elusive at first, but patience is a muscle that can be strengthened with use, and I am often astounded at how tender and steady even my energetic toddler can become after a few minutes of calm.
As I relayed in my summer forest scavenger hunt, you can involve your children in creating your list of what you will seek during your walk. There are good ideas online. Your springtime list will differ slightly from summer because there will not yet be many leaves on the trees or singing grasshoppers. Depending on your geographic location, the ages of your children, and when you travel outdoors for this activity, you might include the following items:
Our kids are amateur ornithologists and quite enjoy naming and learning about birds. If you are interested in teaching your kids the simple backyard varieties of song birds, we love the kids’ book, Counting Is for the Birds. If you want to take your learning a step further and learn along with them, I highly recommend investing in a field guide; our favorite is The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. To learn the calls, you might also spend a bit more to invest in a book with songs included, such as this Kindle version that we are currently considering: Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song.
Visit the Animal Babies
If you have a local farm or petting zoo that allows children to be in close proximity to the animals, you can’t beat a visit in spring when the animals are giving birth. The sights and sounds can leave a lasting positive impression on young minds.
Justine Uhlenbrock is an urban homesteader, a minimalist mom, writer, childbirth educator and birth doula living with her husband and two young girls in Massachusetts. She is passionate about sustainable living, health, frugality, and her quest for real food and family heirloom recipes. She blogs at The Lone Home Ranger.