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Celebrate Spring with Some Fun Educational Nature Activities

Nature’s Workshop Plus! 

Copyright 2015

All Rights Reserved.

Website:  http://www.workshopplus.com/

Spring! What a wonderful time of the year. The sunshine becomes warmer, dormant grass awakens from its necessary winter nap,  trees seem to wake up and wave hello to all who take notice, and life springs from nearly every place we look.  We also get to experience the spring rains which boost the season into its new identity. Your students might like to start a nature journal during this season.  There is so much to record!  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Begin by noting the daily weather patterns and discuss how it relates to the greening of the grass. Make a grid in the journal and record the daily temperature, rainfall quantities, amount of sunshine, types of clouds, etc. Reinforce the journal concept with a study of cloud formations.
  1. Sketch a tree and the growth of its leaves. Look up the scientific name of the species and record it in the journal along with its common name.  Leave space in the journal for revisiting that section during the season and resketch the leaves as they grow.  Once the leaf is full grown, leave enough space for a sketch of the colorful Fall leaf. You could even begin a leaf collection of several species beginning with the smallest leaves in the Spring and ending with a colorful Fall collection.
  1. Record beautiful poetry about the spring season in your journal.  Perhaps adding appropriate Scripture, personal thoughts, and beautiful artwork could complete each entry.
  1. Plant seeds and record their growth.  Small children love to plant bean seeds.  Plant the bean seeds in a glass jar so that the growth is visible. They grow quickly, and the seeds are so large that the shoot, growing up, and the root, growing down, are very easy to see. Draw the growth stages in your journal. Label all parts of the plant. Older students might like to plant flower and vegetable plants.  Record the growth data in your journal using Metric measure. Keeping careful records now allows the children to gain experience in recording data.  Once they enter into the upper level sciences, lab reports will be required.
  1. Have an insect section in the journal.  It wouldn’t be Spring and Summer without our little “friends”.  Again, look up and record their scientific and common names, draw the species, label its parts, record where the insect lives, and what it eats. Study the metamorphosis of the insect.  Does this species experience complete or incomplete metamorphosis? Draw its life cycle. Start an ant farm and observe the diligent activity of the ant. Observe in nature or via video a butterfly leaving its chrysalis. The video “City of the Bees” examines the life of the honey bee.  This video shows the inside of the hive, how the bees gathers nectar, how the bees communicate, and more.  It is fascinating to watch. Don’t forget to serve toast and honey!  Using colorful photographs as your guide, sketch the bees and their hive into the journal. Label as mentioned before.
  1. Begin a rock collection.  Draw what you see.  Hand magnifiers or stereo microscopes allow for more detailed viewing. I haven’t met a child yet who didn’t have a touch of “rock hound” him or her! This activity just about requires a field guide for proper identification.  A beginner guide works better for children than an overwhelming larger volume which might be harder to use.
  1. Go on a nature hike and record what you do and see.  Take a pair of binoculars for bird watching.  Make sure to begin a bird section in your journal.  They are so beautiful.  Set up a bird feeding area in your yard and keep a field guide handy for quick identification. Learn the common birds of your area.

These are just a few ideas for you nature journal.  Allow your imagination to help you plan.  Your children might enjoy this activity better if they can decide which area in their journal to develop first. Always include art and poetry in the journal. Supply your students with a set of colored pencils, drawing pencils and a good eraser. One thing we have found is that children don’t want to “mess-up” a page in their journal, so we recommend that each page be completed in a loose leaf format then placed in a binder when the child is satisfied with the page. If you use a binder with a clear plastic cover, the students can decorate a page and insert it into the cover for a custom look!  For upper elementary and middle school students, look up the taxonomy of the species being studied and note it in the journal. The more you do toward preparation for high school biology the better.

Nature journaling will also require nature studying.  The “Handbook of Nature Study”, by Anna Botsford Comstock, http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=734&idcategory=0  is an excellent resource for a teacher or parent who needs to know more about topics in nature.  The book was originally published in 1911 and contains 887 pages. It is divided into 4 major sections: The Teaching of Nature Study, Animals, Plants,and Earth and Sky.  It is a store house of information to help you teach you children/students about nature.  Please see.http://www.workshopplus.com for information about both this book.

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Below are some additional resources that you can use for your spring lesson planning.  You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser.

Garden Pirate

http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4069&idcategory=0

Make the world a little greener by depositing seed “bombs” in forgotten outdoor spaces. Using fun shape molds, you can cast seed bombs from fast-growing flower seeds, growing medium, plaster gypsum, sand, and water. Once the seed bomb shapes have dried and hardened, they can be distributed in appropriate outdoor places. After a while, a beautiful cluster of flowers will explode in those spots. Learn about botany, flowering plants, seeds, nature conservation, tree planting, and more.

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Nature Kaleidoscope- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3127&idcategory=0

A make-your-own kaleidoscope kit.

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Hanging Bird Feeder Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3893&idcategory=0

Adults and children will enjoy building this old fashion, hanging bird feeder.

Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4166&idcategory=0

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This  Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit includes a 12 x 18 inch insect display case, professional grade 10 inch Safety Glo insect net, foam spreading board, 100

Love Plant (Great for Mother’s  Day!  http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4176&idcategory=

loveplantgrowing(1)_1831_generalThese carefree plants are easy and fun to grow and will thrive in any terrarium.

With so much to see and do this Spring, don’t forget to take time for simple, peaceful, observation. Children need quiet time in their lives to reflect, think and form opinions about life. They can learn form observing nature, listening to nature, studying nature, drawing nature, planting, being outside, getting dirty, splashing in a creek, and chasing butterflies! If we can teach them to enjoy these lovely God-given gifts, we are giving them an enormous gift that no mass media gimmick can ever match.

Blessings to you,

Diana Ruark

Nature’s Workshop Plus!

For free catalog or more information:

(888) 393-5663

http://www.workshopplus.com/ 

All resources mentioned in the article are available through Nature’s Workshop, Plus.

Editor’s Note: For additional springtime articles, lesson plans, recipes and more, please visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

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Spring Forward 2015 with AMC Lesson Planning

I recently revised and uploaded the new 2015 AMC Montessori Lesson Planning Springtime Newsletter. To see the contents of this newsletter please see below.

Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

Peruse through the entire lessons.

Then, download the new AMC Montessori Hands-On Creative Lesson Planning Newsletter. You can also access this newsletter by visiting http://www.amonco.org and clicking on the new eBook Library.

Below, is just a partial listing of the offerings included in the newly uploaded AMC Montessori Spring Hands-On Newsletter.

Part I – AMC Spring Newsletter

Sandy R. Wilbur answers general as well specific questions which will help you to understand the benefits of bird-watching with children. You’ll learn how to get started, what types of products to buy, and what pitfalls to avoid, to name a few. Sandy is also sensitive to the concerns educators may feel about presenting lessons on this topic

Montessori Dianne Knesek reminds us that numeration is the basis for all math concepts. An important aspect of that understanding is the ability to sequence numbers from least to greatest. Exercises are very easy to make.

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The Language Salons are the brainchild of Director François Thibaut, who’s been a foreign language teacher since the late 1960’s. Thibaut’s best known for founding the renowned Language Workshop for Children and the Cercle Franco Americain French of Adults program in 1973. Read about this program in Part I of this newsletter.

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Part II – AMC Spring Newsletter

Rae continues to show us why we should visit the Creative Process website. Her innovative ideas will greatly add to your spring lesson planning.

Dr. Borenson shares some free Hands-On Equations® Basic Algebraic Concepts.

 

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Montessorian Richard Lord offers free Downloadable “Simple Reading Books” & Free Geography Set of Land and Water Form Cards.

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Learn also how to make a flannel board from Fun Felt.

Part III – AMC Spring Newsletter

John shares his entertaining as well as educational activities entitled “I CAN’T TAKE THE PRESSURE and The Needle Proof Balloon.”

Nan shows us how to make some delicious peanut fudge. See how you can plan extension lesson exercises combining handwriting, cooking and illustrating!!!

Does your middle school student enjoy participating in fun, challenging puzzles? Are you looking for some activities to help your student prepare for the ACT or SAT?

In honor of two major spring holidays, Alan Stillson, the author of Middle School Word Puzzles, invites you to find these words and expressions that are related to Easter or Passover. Alan also offers some fun, challenging food puzzles for middle school students. Check out the new free samples from Alan’s newest book, Brain Warmer Uppers, as well.

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It’s Time to Think Outside the Book and Kindle, Too! Curious? Read this section to find out how you can use the creative ideas of Rita Arpaia from Literatureplace.com in your home and school classrooms right now!

Part IV — AMC Spring Newsletter

Dale Gausman, from North American Montessori Center, offers the timely Introducing a Bird Feeder and Making Grass-Eggshell People. You will also found three additional outstanding Montessori extension exercises – My Family Tree,  Marble Design Paper, and  Montessori Easter Activities: Ukrainian Easter Eggs in Culture and Science Curriculum with free .pdf downloads – all offered by NAMC.

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Part V – AMC Spring Newsletter

Marie and Kim illustrate how drawing helps children develop a mental map. Discover a Montessori extension exercise that is designed for age group 5 to 95. :)

It’s time to get up and “move” with Go Green!, a brand new CD form Kimbo Educational http://kimboed.com/gogreen.aspx#.UtRAIvZVe0e “GO GREEN! Caring About Our Earth contains song about playing outdoors, recycling, planting a garden, stopping pollution, and more inspire children to connect to the Earth and encourage them to be responsible for the Earth. Action fun and singable songs motivate children to be involved and to be aware of the outside world

Look for the Guide/Extension Activities by Dr. Pam Schiller in this section of the newsletter.

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Find the lyrics and directions for the song, “The Alphabet March and Match”, by Pam Schiller, Ph.D., from the new Kimbo Educational CD release, Move and Learn.

The focus of the song is on letters, which aids in literacy knowledge. Move and Learn is a unique resource, providing 17 guided, action-packed educational songs, featuring concepts and skills that are necessary for every child to learn, including numbers, colors, literacy and more.

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Part VI – AMC Spring Newsletter

Dr.Borenson, from Hands-On Equations®, offers more samples of algebraic concepts.

Download free French and Spanish songs with translations from Professor Toto.

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Part VII- AMC Spring Newsletter

Ruth shares a needlepoint lesson which is designed for students 12 years and older.

Marjorie shares a classical music lesson plan for springtime from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

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Download the new, free “Anti-gravity water – is it possible? science activity from Exploration Education.

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Don’t forget to read Part VIII – AMC Spring Newsletter

Celebrating the Personal Life of George Washington

Montessorians will appreciate the imaginative George Washington lesson planning ideas that author Sara Ambarian has provided. Traditional colonial recipes are featured and can easily be incorporated into Montessori’s practical life exercises. Sara has done an excellent job of presenting sufficient information about this subject, without bogging down educators with too much data.

Diana, from Nature’s Workshop Plus, knows that we are all looking forward to the beauty of spring, so she showers us with some springtime nature activities that are sure to be enjoyed in any Montessori environment.

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The late Montessorian Kathy O’Reilly uses eggs as the focus of food related exercises. Her multiple subject integrated approach is supplemented with a Booklist for additional extension lessons.

This post contains only a very small sampling of what is offered in this newsletter.All of the lessons contained in the newsletter are free of charge. Visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html to download the newsletter in .pdf.

Enjoy!

Heidi Anne Spietz
http://www.amonco.org
Celebrating 27 Years of Serving School and Home Educators
Montessori for the 21st Century

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New Beginnings

“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

Fruit trees bud out and bloom.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQyvRtyhMfA . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdpDkulqQ9U , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-6dQvOSYmI

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

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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

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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

Help toddlers learn their colors with these cute videos.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arU-AxEVsi8 and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHer1peKX88

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

Happy Spring!

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