During her years as a teacher and mother, Ms. Meyers discovered that not all praise was equal and some kinds were even deleterious to kids.
Celebrate New Beginnings and Warmer Days
Ducklings at the pond. Fawns rising on shaky legs. Daffodils emerging from the soil. Marshmallow Peeps in the aisles. Spring brings new life, renewed hope, and fun times for families to share. It's time to celebrate, get creative, go outside, and embrace nature. Here are 8 of my family's favorite things to do in spring:
1. Do a Scavenger Hunt
When my sons were little, I wanted to take them on walks in nature because we lived in a spectacular part of the country with oodles of lakes, mountains, and forests. Growing up a city girl, I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me. But, as soon as we'd head down the trail, the whining would start: “I'm tired. Can we go home now? This is B-O-R-I-N-G!”
To correct the situation, I created Scavenger Hunts before each walk and my sons loved them. Now being in nature was an exciting game and they were the contestants looking for cool stuff. I'd give them a clipboard (a piece of cardboard with the list taped to it and a crayon attached with yarn). They would cross off the item when they spotted it. When they were preschoolers, I used a list with pictures only. When they were older, I used words to build their reading skills.
I tailored the Scavenger Hunts to fit the time of year, the place we were going, and whatever we were studying (mammals, trees, bugs). A spring Scavenger Hunt might include: birds, flowers, butterflies, the sun, salamanders, lizards, a bunny, blooming trees, rosebuds, and crocuses. It was hands-on learning at its best and the boys developed a new-found appreciation for nature, improved their vocabulary and, best of all, spent time with their family.
2. Celebrate the Birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2nd by Making Green Eggs and Ham
Celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss on March 2nd has become a tradition in our family. We read lots of his books including: The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, and our favorite, Green Eggs and Ham. In the morning, we start off the day by making green eggs and ham for breakfast. This is how we do it:
- Stir eggs and green food coloring in a bowl (for a healthier option, use spinach purée instead of food coloring).
- Add to a hot skillet and scramble.
- Warm slices of ham on skillet.
- Dig in!
3. Composting in Honor of Earth Day, April 22nd
Earth Day is fun to celebrate with your kids because it empowers them to protect our planet and its animal inhabitants. One year my sons and I brainstormed ideas for Earth Day and decided to start composting our food waste. Each person in the U.S. throws away about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage each year, needlessly filling up our overflowing landfills. This organic garbage can become rich nutrient-filled compost to be used in our gardens. Plants love it, and it helps them grow bigger, stronger, and healthier. Plus, composting is easy to do and makes you feel good about helping the earth. Here's how we did it:
- We bought a large compost bin at Home Depot and put it in a shady spot in our yard.
- We added grass clippings, leaves, and food scraps (fruits, vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea bags are great but milk and meat are a no-no)!
- We watered our compost to keep it damp but not wet (dry material does not compost well).
- We added some large red worms (bought at the bait shop) to speed up the composting process.
5. We turned the compost over once a week with a shovel.
6. When the materials had broken down into rich compost, we moved it into our garden to help our plants flourish.
4. Create Marble Paintings
Making marble paintings will engage your children for hours, and they'll be thrilled with the results. Best of all, marble paintings are easy to make and there's no mess.
Here is what you need:
- an old cardboard box
- printer paper cut to fit inside the box
- Tempera paints (2-3 different colors – if you use more than that, you'll wind up with brown)
- bowls for each color
- plastic spoons for each bowl
- 1 marble for each bowl
- colored construction paper for mounting (optional)
Here's what to do:
- Place a piece of white paper in the box.
- Put a tiny amount of paint in each bowl.
- Place a marble and plastic spoon in each bowl of paint.
- Take the painted marbles out of the bowls with the spoons and place in the box.
- Pick up the box and move it from side to side so the marbles roll.
- Keep rolling the marbles in the box until the painting looks pleasing to you.
- Let the painting dry and then mount it on colored construction paper.
Your kids will want to make LOTS of these so have plenty of paper on hand!
5. Read Books about Spring/Easter and Make Bunny Ears
Experts in early childhood education say our youngsters are losing their ability to think creatively, use their imaginations, and invent new ways to play. They argue that kids have access to screens at younger and younger ages with instant entertainment being handed to them with no effort on their part. That's why it's important parents give their children lots of opportunities for dramatic play. What better way to do that in spring than letting them pretend they're bunnies? Here's what to do:
- Read lots of book about spring/Easter: The Velveteen Rabbit, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny , The Runaway Bunny, Pat the Bunny, and Bunny Cakes.
- Then make rabbit ears so they can pretend they're bunnies like those in the books.
- Cut out a 2-inch strip off the long side of a large piece of construction paper.
- Cut another 2-inch strip off of the short side.
- Staple the pieces together into one long strip.
- Fold the remaining piece of paper in half lengthwise. Draw a large rabbit-ear shape on it. Let your child cut it out, following the lines you made while keeping the paper folded in half.
- Staple the ears to the strip about two inches apart.
- Wrap around your child's head and staple to fit.
- Paint whiskers and a pink nose on your child with face paint or makeup.
6. Create a “Bug Bottle”
Kids get fascinated by bugs and spring is a good time to learn about them. Making a Bug Bottle is a good way to study them up close for a short period, let them go, and find another. Going for a nature walk in different environments (forest, parks, lakes, rivers, mountains) teaches kids about animal habitats and is a wonderful way to get fresh air and exercise as a family.
This is what you need:
- a large jar with holes punched in the lid
- some leaves for your bug to eat (Some bugs need special food to eat: aphids for ladybugs, leaves and lettuce for snails, slugs, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, flies for spiders).
- a little moist soil
- a book about bugs
Here's what you do:
- Put a little moist soil at the bottom of your Bug Bottle. Add some leaves, a twig, and a rock to make it look nice and feel homey.
- Walk through your yard, neighborhood, or a nearby park to find some cool bugs, slugs, and snails.
- Keep your Bug Bottle indoors – out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Add a few drops of water and a fresh leaf every day or two.
- Return your bug to its habitat after a week and find another one.
7. Make Mom a "Groovy Smoothie" on Mother's Day.
t's a family tradition in our home for my husband and sons to bring me breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. My husband found this recipe ideal for the boys to make because it's easy, quick, and tastes yummy:
- 2 ripe small bananas
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened whole strawberries
- 1 8-ounces carton vanilla low-fat yogurt
- 3/4 cup milk
- Remove the peel from the bananas (compost)! Using the table knife, cut the bananas into chunks.
- Put banana chunks, frozen strawberries, yogurt, and milk into the blender container.
- Cover blender with the lid and blend on high speed about 1 minute or until mixture is smooth. Turn off the blender. Pour drink into 2 glasses. Use rubber scraper to get all the drink out of the blender. Enjoy!
Make Dad a Tie for Father's Day
When our kids are very small, it's hard to find projects simple enough for them to make for special occasions. However, my son was just 3 when he started creating a tie for his dad each Father's Day. Now my husband has over 20 ties made by his sons over the years. Here's how to make one:
- Cut out a tie shape from white construction paper.
- Have your child decorate it using crayons, markers, paints, glitter, sequins, colored pencils, etc.
- Punch two holes at the top for yarn so Dad can wear the tie around his neck!
This Book Inspired Me to Get My Kids Outdoors During the Spring
© 2016 McKenna Meyers
McKenna Meyers (author) on April 24, 2019:
Thanks so much! My sons loved doing scavenger hunts, and they were always a hit when other kids came to our home. I was amazed by how many had never been on one and didn't know what they were. Enjoy the spring!
sklar 4-24-2019 on April 24, 2019:
Loved all your ideas, so inspiring. My favorite was the smoothie idea but all of your ideas were cool and awesome.
McKenna Meyers (author) on October 23, 2016:
Thanks, Bill. It's good to hear I did something right with Google. The big G never seems to like me!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2016:
I love this for three reasons, Nancy: One, it refers to spring, and I want spring to come immediately; two, it is well-written; and three, you posted it well-ahead of the season, which is good planning regarding Google. Nice job!