Spring fever

With so many natural wonders, spring is the perfect time to encourage budding scientists.

Learning Stages

By Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at http://NaturallyEducational.com. While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.

Spring is all about rebirth and kids seem to respond intuitively with "spring fever"—an urge to get outside and move!

Go with this energy and head to the great outdoors for lots of learning opportunities with your tot. With so many natural wonders, spring is the perfect time to encourage budding scientists.

Plan ahead and plant it

Gardening is great for toddlers and preschoolers because it places the action right at their level. Fast-growing veggies like lettuces, cherry tomatoes, and snow peas will give children the quick satisfaction of seeing early sprouts.

Sunflowers are also a kid favorite and make for beautiful "time lapse" photography if you take a picture of your child next to the tall, growing blooms every week.

You can also plant a garden for butterflies to watch each stage of this lovely insect's growth—from egg to caterpillar to pupa to adult butterfly.

It's the circle of life

Find a local nature spot where you can observe the changes during spring. Visit a local farm to see the hens hatching eggs and the newborn farm animals. Most places will have programs where children can pet and feed baby chicks, bunnies, and goats.

Duck ponds are also a great way to see babies. Children will delight in the progress of the young ducklings as they learn to swim and fly.

The budding trees offer another opportunity to witness a lifecycle as they grow green leaves, flower, and ripen into fruit.

Children will feel a close connection with these growing animals and plants.

Fascinate tiny techies

If your preschooler is attached to your smartphone, there are plenty of educational apps to enjoy in the spring. Geocaching has given us a fun reason to explore local nature trails. My junior birdwatcher loves an app that helps her identify plumage and calls. And my little space man likes to find out which constellations he can see in the night sky.

Opportunities are everywhere in the spring. And local and online resources can turn any interest into an engaging learning experience!