The sun is shining, tulips have sprouted and the warm breezes of spring are almost here. The winter has been a whirlwind of stresses with twists and turns, but with the new season upon us, it’s a great time to get inspired — and maybe find new ways to entertain or teach the kids at home.
Sounds simple, right? However, does your whole family have a spring cleaning routine for the outside? From toddlers to teens, have your kids help clear away the branches and leaves to make room for the summer flowers. If you want to be really adventurous, have your kids plan a section of the yard.
Dig for Worms
Yes, worms. When my kids were young, they dug in our yard and had fun filling buckets with dirt and real worms. (Maybe it’s something boys do, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.) If you are squeamish about the real thing, Learning 4 Kids has an idea: parents can put the “worms” (aka cooked spaghetti) in a dirt box for kids to dig in. Don’t stop there; go online and learn about worms — what they do for the earth, what they eat and what they do all day.
Spring brings a lot of rain, so going outside might not always be an option. During the dreary times, it’s a good opportunity to let the kids’ creativity shine. Paint, draw and cut paper to create your favorite spring flowers. For little kids, get them moving. The Ohio Department of Education’s Early Learning and Development Standards for preschool-aged kids suggests, “Talk to your child about how plants grow and then have them demonstrate with their body.” For older kids, start your garden by planting flowers in pots and then transfer them to ground in May.
Birds and Other Creatures
The spring brings wildlife out of its winter slumber and birds back from their southern vacation. Want to help your children know more about nature? The Ohio Division of Wildlife is a great place to start looking for resources. It has a book on the birds that call Ohio their home and where to view different wildlife. There is a variety of creatures to learn about and view from a distance in local park systems and even around your home.
Butterflies and Bees
Our insect friends arrive in the spring. There are so many kid-friendly crafts on Pinterest to decorate your home to celebrate the fluttery friends. Also, you can have your kids learn about the butterfly’s life cycle and then put on a play to demonstrate it.
This spring has been more stressful for everyone. The outdoors helps to revitalize the soul and body. You can do many things outside, such as take a walk or go for a bike ride as a family. But when was the last time you just sat down and took in the spring air? Stark Parks suggests, “Consider picking up your mat and taking your practice to a park. While formal yoga classes aren’t happening for the time being, you can still experience meaningful meditation at any one of our parks. Deep breath, take in the scenery and namaste.” Even if your family doesn’t know how to do yoga, you can still get outside as a family to relax and rejuvenate.
Have you looked around your neighborhood lately? Are there enough trees? Trees are essential to our earth for oxygen, but as trees get older or interfere with wires or developments, they get cut down. If your home is treeless, it might be a good time to think about planting one. At our house, we have a maple that has grown to be a teenager and we remind our boys how we planted it when we first got married. It’s fun to see it fill out along with our children. If you want to donate or plant a tree, good information is available at arborday.org.
Have your kids ever wondered about the spring storms? How do lightning and thunder work? There are a lot of fun craft ideas on Pinterest to help teach them, but you also can make up projects on your own. If you can stand the noise, have kids simulate a storm with your phone’s flashlight and good old-fashioned pots and pans. If it’s raining outside when the weather gets warmer, as long as there’s no storm, have them slip on their raincoats and boots for a 15-minute puddle jumping adventure.