Summary ꙳ Objectives
▹ A sure sign of Spring in the forests are the multitude of wildflowers popping out and covering the forest floor before any of its trees wake from dormancy. If you take a walk and then retrace your steps you might even find some that bloomed after you passed them on your way in. In a few weeks, they will have finished their cycle before trees start shading them and pump the water from the surrounding soil. The reason why these flowers bloom early is thanks to their large specialized root system that accumulated food through winter. Early spring, that energy is used to produce leaves and flowers before any flower that grows from seed start their own cycle. Seeing snowdrops, daffodils, and crocuses is the visual joyful bell that winter is on its way out!
Throughout history, humans have observed this seasonal milestone and created spiritual and cultural traditions to celebrate new beginnings on Earth, as with the Earth Day celebrated by some around the time of the March Equinox, while others observe the occasion on April 22 each year. For us, it is a time to reflect, gather together and celebrate this important phase of Nature's cycle...
Type » Lesson
Level » Eco-Artsy + Naturalist
When? » Spring
Where? » Indoors & Outdoors
Time » 2hrs+
Themes & Skills
Celebration ⋆ Focus ⋆ Phenology⋆ Natural processes/cycles ⋆ Systems thinking ⋆ Nature benefits ⋆ Temperate Regions
Internet for accessing documentary videos ⋆ Paper, pencils, crayons, or watercolors ⋆ Scavenger hunt list(s) ⋆ Craft supply you anticipate for the Spring decoration activity...
"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." —Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard's Egg
This Nature lesson is an 'ode' to Spring. It reminds us of the importance of the season both ecologically and culturally.
This lesson's activities are a mix of discussions, nature quests, walks and arts & craft. The intent is to connect us to the natural beauty of Spring and its promises of a fun and beautiful Summer to come. Happy Spring to all! ツ
If we close our eyes, we can smell that Spring is in 'the air'. Signs are everywhere: green plant shoots under the leaf litter. Insects and worms are active under the rocks, the buds feel ready to explode, the birds are coming back and getting louder, and nests in trees are reappearing. For some of us living in the regions away from the tropics, it is often felt like a relief after a cold and harsh winter. It's a time where Life awakens and gets ready to mate, raise families and accumulate food for what's to come...
Discuss animals and plants activities in Spring. For instance, explore:
- the physical and behavioral adaptations of animals, such as physical changes (colors, weight), migration, mating habits...
- the ephemeral changes that habitats can experience and which teem with life such as vernal pools
- the differences and the cycles of deciduous trees and evergreens
Seasons follow the cycle of astronomical events marked by solstices and equinoxes. In the Northern hemisphere, the Spring equinox (a.k.a. vernal equinox) occurs about March 20 or 21, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going North. This marks the beginning of the Spring season. In the South, of course, this is the Autumnal equinox marking the arrival of Fall. At that time of the year, the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal – but not quite. Days will lengthen even more in the North (inverse than what happens in the South).
In many cultures of the North, this equinox marks a time of transition and new beginnings.
Discuss with the group about what Spring represents, and how each celebrates it. Share your best memories...
Find a quiet area and paint a wheel of the colors that you see or associate with the season. Paint the sky and the tree right next to you. Paint the crocuses, daffodils, or the first Spring flowers that you see. Capture the reflection of the sun on a building or a stone. What are the warmest and coolest hues of your palette?
Animals are getting ready for new families. They are busy building nests & dens and finding a partner. Insects that were overwintering as eggs are starting to grow. Plants are getting ready to open and bloom, in order to catch as much sunlight as possible and produce sugars to grow and strengthen. This is truly a perfect time to get outside. Have a Nature walk and observe all those great changes.
Make a list of 6 or more Spring items for your group or yourself to find out there in your city, parks, or local forests.
The list is more fun when its items cover all the sensory realm (sound, taste, shape, color...). Print it, grab your journal and pencils, even your camera, and get outside. Forage for those items in pairs or alone.
Each time that you find one of the items, rather than collecting it (that should be avoided), take the time to sketch it. Take a snap if it's still too cold.
Show your sketches and pics to one another. Share which is your favorite and how you found the item (the bird, the flower...)
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Here are a few items that we like to include in our spring list (in no specific order):
- a pollinator visiting a flower
- a bird song that you haven't heard all winter long
- the sign of nest building
- frost in the morning
- 3 types of young leaves
- the green shoots of a flower through the ground
- a fresh smell
- a rabbit
- the wind rustling in leaves
- a pinecone
- a squirrel
- a worm
- the track of an animal in the mud
- 3 different seeds
- a small wildflower
- a mourning dove
- a Y-shaped twig
- a tree with flower buds that open before leaf buds...
The internet is full 'Spring nature scavenger hunt' ideas. Explore what's out there and create your own list –The exploration activity alone is fun!
Circling back to the first activity and celebrate the season. Gather together (alone is fine too), and create a basket of Spring paper flowers, a nature mobile, or enjoy flower pressing or a nature mandala. Enjoy exploring what the season has to offer and expand our creativity. The spirit of Spring! Think about gifting your craft to someone in your circle, or offer it as a present to someone outside this circle. There is never a better time to give than "now", when we are enjoying the moment.