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New Beginnings

on January 25, 2013

“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.

Here a stick insect emerges from his egg.

At the Seymour fish hatchery in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, salmon eggs wiggle out of their eggs to become alevin.  For more on the fascinating life cycle of a salmon, check out this informational page from the hatchery.

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.

This short video shows a baby robin hatching from its egg.

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.

Just for fun, here are some cute baby animals sure to make students, parents and teachers smile.

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. ,  , , and

Fruit trees bud out and bloom. . , and

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.

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!)

How a Plant Grows is just one interesting book on the life cycles of plants.


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.

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.

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.

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  and Seed Savers Exchange

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.


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.

KidsTV123 has a cute alphabet song with graphics that show many examples of every letter.

This interesting video tries to help kids learn the alphabet in 15 minutes.

Help toddlers learn their colors with these cute videos. and

Sing along and fill in the blanks with “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”

Early number and counting lessons. , , , and

This is a short overview of Montessori theory and classroom activities from Australia.

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.

Happy Spring!

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