“From small beginnings come great things.” Proverb
Spring is a time of beginnings, for all living things. Children and adults can engage together in this exciting season of rebirth– observing the growth and celebrating the feeling of renewal.
Baby Animals and Insects are Born
The animal world is full of activity in the spring. New arrivals include many more species than the chicks and bunnies we think of in connection with Easter.
Monarch butterfly life cycle as photographed for the Chicago Nature Museum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AUeM8MbaIk
Here a stick insect emerges from his egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiV-DsfoJwA
At the Seymour fish hatchery in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, salmon eggs wiggle out of their eggs to become alevin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgp6OjpfrQo For more on the fascinating life cycle of a salmon, check out this informational page from the hatchery. http://seymoursalmon.com/lifecycle.php
Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings is a delightful story of a family with babies. If you don’t have access to a copy, here’s a nice reading of it, on-line. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0fQpliJJQI
This short video shows a baby robin hatching from its egg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKgLfWheoI
ZooBorns is a blog which shows the photos and stories of animals born at accredited zoos and aquariums from all around the world. There is always a cute new addition. http://www.zooborns.com/
Just for fun, here are some cute baby animals sure to make students, parents and teachers smile. http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/70-cutie-baby-animals-bring-your-a-good-mood/
Seeds Sprout and Buds Blossom
One of the main things we all think of in spring is the growth and rebirth of the plant world, and there are many ways students can use and hone their science and observation skills in the springtime. Both nature study and gardening offer opportunities to learn about the life cycles of plants.
Enjoy these neat time-lapse videos of seeds sprouting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d26AhcKeEbE , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKx4ZwoJqXY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nvAzt9sWIg , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN8c_X0LNcg
Even the lowly dandelion, spring and summer scourge of the suburban lawn, takes on rare beauty when we concentrate on its complex composite flower opening in the sun and closing with the dusk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrUdOYZfV4I
The Beauty of Pollination shows hummingbirds, butterflies, bats and other creatures helping to pollinate a variety of flowers. (If you have a good internet connection, check out the HD version link on this version. It’s beautiful!) http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xHkq1edcbk4?rel=0
How a Plant Grows is just one interesting book on the life cycles of plants. http://www.workshopplus.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=605&idcategory=0
If your students will try their hands at growing their own plants, here’s a quick overview of the differences between hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, including a little information about genetically-modified seeds. http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetable1/f/Heirlooms.htm
In the past few years, all around the world, there has been quite a bit of discussion about the comparative merits and problems of open-pollinated vs. hybridized seeds, including a lot of controversy over genetically-modified (GMO) seeds. Wherever you stand on this complex issue, it involves an interesting mix of scientific, medical, philosophical and ethical considerations which students can research and ponder for themselves.
New Scientist offers a round-up of interesting articles both for and against genetically-modified foods/seeds. http://www.newscientist.com/topic/gm-food
This article from Clemson University gives a fine overview of what constitutes an heirloom seed and how seeds are saved in home gardens. It also lists and describes some famous heirloom varieties. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/gardening/hgic1255.html
One of the neat things about heirlooms seeds is that children can grow the same seeds as children from a hundred or more years ago and/or children from other countries/continents. Heirlooms allow us to combine horticulture with history (and sometimes geography). They also often have interesting sizes, shapes, colors and flavors which may not be commercially profitable but may be especially fun or interesting for children.
Here are just two of the many dependable heirloom/open-pollinaed seed companies with a wide variety of interesting vegetable and flower seeds: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds http://rareseeds.com/ and Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/
The Littlest Learners Start Strong
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays over, it is a great time to have preschoolers make some of their own new beginnings, too.
Books make great “gift” additions to Easter baskets. Find a great assortment of early learning books at Farm Country General Store. http://www.homeschoolfcgs.com/index.php/cPath/7
Little ones with visual and physical learning styles may especially enjoy these free video resources.
Here’s a cute version of the traditional ABC song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCDxiJm-FX4
KidsTV123 has a cute alphabet song with graphics that show many examples of every letter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_-lz2BI2Co
This interesting video tries to help kids learn the alphabet in 15 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyBuYclBSwI
Sing along and fill in the blanks with “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_0HWkYnJ20
Early number and counting lessons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsKpazuC0RY , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5Ak50dFse8 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO1K1bspH_8 , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOrTsCpemo
This is a short overview of Montessori theory and classroom activities from Australia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZLq5Uttq8M
Although not Montessori-specific, for some interesting information and examples of language skills are connected to the daily life and learning of preschoolers, check out Language for Learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AL1IDGCVAo