February 16, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am having a hard time sitting here writing this post.
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about spring — I do.
It’s just that spring seems to have hit today, and as I sit here, listening to the snow melt through an open window, I am having a hard time sitting still at all.
My children are overwhelmed with an urge to get outside, to pull down bikes, to see grass!
And it is contagious. It is distracting as all get-out peeking at the tree outside — seeing sunlight; hearing a bird. So I can understand how they feel.
It is easy to forget in the bustle of getting things done, that all that is homeschooling — trees, sunlight, birds! It doesn’t get much more hand-on early science learning than that, especially for little ones.
During the past year or so, we have begun to embrace a new approach here that I like to call Seasonal Learning. Following this kind of yearly rhythm allows for us to embrace nature and find a place for family projects that are important to us (like building a compost bin and starting our garden).
And it also brings out something deeper in all of us — we all have a need to feel connected to something, and living and learning with the seasons helps us to truly experience the topics were are studying.
Spring is the perfect time to explore the natural world with little ones. Children have a natural fascination with baby animals and the tiny plants that begin to poke through the last of the snow.
So in the spring, we try to:
- visit a farm or two
- meet some baby animals
- begin planting our garden
- take longer hikes
- leave out ribbon and yarn baskets for nesting birds
- begin taking everyday events outside, like drawing or even lunch
- search for the first signs of flowers and buds
- watch for all the B’s — birds, butterflies, bugs
- hang out the laundry and watch the wind make it dance
- make seedy bread
- visit a pond, lake, stream or creek (or preferably all four!)
- listen: for the breeze; raindrops; frog sounds; birdsongs
- play in the mud, jump in puddles, find other ways to get filthy!
- begin a new nature journal
- dye eggs
- rediscover parks
- celebrate Earth Day
- and in general spend more time out in nature.
We also will collect books from the library on topics like tadpoles, bird eggs, baby animals, trees, flowers, butterflies, insects and all that is beginning or beginning again this time of year. Gail Gibbons has written some wonderful guides. We just invested in these too.
Of course we still spend time sitting at the dining room table, and doing endless art projects at the breakfast bar. But as spring finally springs after the long months of winter, we also look forward to getting outside and seeing all that Mother Nature has to offer.
In fact, that’s exactly what we are off to do right now.