Find three branches from a blooming shrub or bush. A branch that has not done any budding or blooming, a branch that has buds just beginning to appear and a branch with full blooms. Compare the three. If you keep them in water they will last a bit longer!
To show the rain cycle to my pre-k’rs, I put 1/2 cup water in a sandwich size plastic bag. I explain to the children that this is a pretend puddle that will help us to find out where water goes. I hang it with some tape on a window in the sunlight. Now we will wait and see what the sun does to puddles. After the bag has hung for a few hours, we look on the sides of the bag for condensation. I will tell the children that clouds are made of little drops of water like those on the bag. After condensation has occurred, I will hold some ice against the top of the bag and then additional water should condense. Some water will drop from the top of the bag while the children watch. The cool air high in the sky does the job of the ice and makes rain fall out of the real clouds like we can make “rain” fall from our pretend clouds.
Go on a signs of spring walk. In some areas of the country you may do this as early as mid February. What do you see? Are there any sprouts coming up? Flowers blooming? Bugs flying/crawling? Do you hear birds singing? Do you smell the freshness in the air and in the earth? Use all your senses and ask open ended questions. I guarantee that you and the children will become quite excited as you discover the earth’s awakening when spring is in the air!
Every year we plant pumpkins in the spring. The children make a pumpkin shaped journal to record our progress. We germinate the seeds inside, track the weather and when the time is right (we look for signs of spring) we plant, recording by hand drawn pictures and “new” words what we are doing. While they are growing we weed, measure the vines, plant flowers around our pumpkins and add compost. Everything we do is in our journals. We also talk about roots, stems, leaves, vines, flowers etc. Each child waters their own plant. During the summer we also build as scarecrow for our patch. In our journals we record any bugs in our patch. I take photos during the growing season for each child’s journal. During October we cut our pumpkins in time for a pumpkin theme but we always “clean up” our pumpkin bed.. by digging in the leftover vines for next year.
I got an incubator from 4-H. My second graders have had lots of science, art, cooking, and writing activities from this. The best thing is they are very excited as they watch our graph when we turn the eggs and water the incubator. We will candle the eggs this week on the tenth day and see if our hypothesis of how many eggs will develop was correct. This project takes only 21 days for the eggs to develop plus a week before and a week + after. It is great for these difficult days after Groundhog Day and before spring.