Take a Hike into Spring

Being at home together doesn’t mean you have to be inside. Now that spring is here, take a moment to explore the world outside, whether it’s a hiking trail or your own backyard. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, harness observation, problem-solving and engineering skills, and improve communication skills, as well as help them engage in imaginative and cooperative play. Each theme comes with recommended literature and video connections. Feel free to add your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share! 

Science Activity: Dissect a Daffodil

As we took a virtual walk with MB through her flower garden, we discussed the different parts of the flower. Check out this cool interactive site if you want to dive deeper.

If you want to dissect a daffodil, here’s what you need:

  • Permission from your adult to pick a daffodil
  • A plastic knife
  • A paper plate or paper towel
  • Your nature journal (see below) or a piece of paper
  • A pencil, crayons or markers
  • Watercolors if you have them

As we saw in our garden walk with MB, dissecting a daffodil lets us take a careful look at the parts of the flower. It also gives you a chance to bring out your inner artist as you draw or paint a picture of your daffodil in your nature journal.

Start by taking a close look at the daffodil you picked. What do you notice about it? Describe what you see to someone in your house. What do the petals look like? What do you see on the inside of the daffodil?

Time to dissect the daffodil! You may need your grown-up to help you. Put the daffodil on the paper plate and use the plastic knife to carefully cut right through the middle of the flower and stem. What do you see? What parts of the daffodil do you notice? Can you draw and label what you see in your nature journal?

ART BONUS: 

Based on your observations in the garden, on your walk, on our walk with MB, or looking at the pictures, can you draw or paint your own picture of a daffodil?

If you need inspiration, here are some botanical sketches of daffodils, as well as a step by step drawing tutorial.

Keep a Nature Journal:

SAMPLE NATURE JOURNAL PAGE

Start a nature journal with your family. It’s super simple. All you need is a notebook, something to write with (pencils, crayons, markers), your five senses, and your curiosity!

What are some things you might notice on your walks that you could include in a nature journal?

The Weather — you can always start by recording your observations of the weather. Here are some words and ideas to get you started.

  • It’s windy (Hace viento). 
  • It’s hailing (Hay granizo). 
  • It’s snowing (Nieva). 
  • It’s sunny (Hace sol). 
  • It’s raining (Llueve). 
  • It’s cloudy (Hay nubes). 
  • It’s cold (Hace frío). 
  • It’s hot (Hace calor).

More ideas, but really you are only limited by your imagination….

  • Leaf and tree rubbings
  • Sketches of flowers you’ve seen
  • Pressed flowers
  • Lists of birds, animals, or insects you’ve noticed
  • Bits of favorite nature poems
  • Pictures or descriptions of the same tree, flower, spot — done once or twice a week over several months.
  • Describe animal tracks you’ve seen in your yard or on a nature walk. Try to identify them.
  • Watercolor paintings of how the things you see in nature make you feel.

TAKE A HIKE CHALLENGE:

Go on a Scavenger Hunt outside and try to find 7 Signs of Spring. What animals, birds, fish, reptiles, or insects do you see around you? Can you find their homes? Where would they live? What kind of plants do you see? Do you notice things budding? Are there new flowers? If you need help identifying plants or birds, check out these apps.

Write or draw your observations in your nature journal!

Questions You Can Ask Your Family:

Who loves to be outdoors? What do you like to do outdoors? What is your favorite type of outdoors environment — mountains, deep woods, fields, beach, river/lake? What animals, birds, fish, or insects might you see there?

Need Inspiration for a Spring Hike?

Shenandoah National Park live webcam and hiking maps

Shawnee Springs Preserve — maps and trails

Jim Barnett Park — family friendly trails

Third Winchester Battlefield Park — beautiful family friendly hiking trails

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club — site offers a wide variety of trails for different ages and experience levels

Can’t Get Outside? 

Check out these live streaming camera feeds of animals and habitats, national parks, and the national zoo.

CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECTS YOU CAN DO TOGETHER!

The Great Backyard Bird Count: Learn more about birds, discover how to participate in counting and recording birds in your backyard as part of a global study. 

Nest Watch: Learn more about how to respectfully monitor birds’ nests, as well as discover how to participate in counting and recording birds’ nest activities in your backyard as part of a global study. 

Cloud Observations: Work with NASA and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) to join cloud observers and citizen scientists across 120+ countries.  

Collect Weather Data: Volunteer to collect rain, hail, and snow data as part of a national citizen science project.

Take Mountain-Top Photographs: Be a visibility volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club. If you live or hike in states from Maine to Virginia, you can take photographs from a mountain view to help scientists study air quality and haze pollution.

Observe Plant Life Cycles: Join Project BudBurst to gather environmental and climate change information in your local area. Observe the life cycles of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses to see when they have their first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening.

SciStarter: This website allows you to search for the citizen science project that is just right for you and your family.

Welcome to Spring!

Seasons and Sorting Activity

TRY THIS! 

Read A Book of Seasons by Alice and Martin Provenson or Seasons by Pat Cummings.

Use the pictures below to talk about the seasons. What is the weather like in the summer? What is the weather like in the winter? What is the weather like in the spring? What is the weather like in the fall? 

Go on a treasure hunt around the house. Gather lots of random clothes and props (make sure you have things like sweaters, boots, swimsuits, sunglasses, coats, jackets, shorts). The clothes can be yours or they can belong to your adult. Try to find clothes you might wear in each of the four seasons.

Can you sort the clothes to match the seasons? Why did you pick the clothes you did to go with them?

Reminder: Fold and put away the clothes and treasure hunt items when you are done. 

SpringPrimaveraSummerVerano
FallOtoñoWinterInvierno

Art Activities: 

spring nature table

Nature Table: While you are exploring spring on your walks through your neighborhood or park, think about things you can collect that make you feel happy and help you think about your time outside! Be sure to ask your adult before you pick anything or collect anything.Tweet

A nature table is a great way to bring a little outdoors inside, allowing the family to reflect on the current season. It can be a shelf, a pan, or a tub where family members can share and play with the nature treasures you’ve found on your hikes.

For spring, you can include flowers, rocks, seeds, small pretend baby animals or butterflies — anything that makes you think of spring. 

As an added bonus, you can paint or draw illustrations of spring to decorate your nature table!

When you’ve created yours, take a picture and share it on social media with us @discoverymuse!

Soon it will be time to start thinking about planting our spring gardens. For inspiration, read the following:

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown