Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spring! and Nature Play. We've been busy.

I have a few toy reviews that I've been working on - more great stuff from Natural Pod, and tea sets, dolls and blocks, but I wanted to share a bit of what we've been doing. Because, especially in spring, play is not all about toys.

We started our seeds for the garden. This is the third year that Arielle and I have done seeds, and Linnea's first year of "helping".

We use our fingers to poke little beds in the soil and then tuck the seeds in and say "good night". We check the soil every few days, and sometimes, we sing to the plants. Our first batch is ready to be planted as soon as the weather warms.

Here's the second batch. We planted basil, chives, tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers, squash and pumpkins. I bet the girls will be excited to eat veggies that they grew themselves.

We've also been spending time discovering the outdoors. For Linnea, everything is new. Simple activities like moving rocks from the driveway to the flower pot keep her attention far longer than many of her toys. The hose is a wonderful play thing as well. I bought a drinking-water safe hose at Lowes.

We spent a whole morning wishing on dandelions.

And flower sniffing - lots of fun for Linnea, lots of picture opportunities for Mom.

Every spring I order caterpillars from Carolina Biological Supply. We watch the little caterpillars grow into big caterpillars. Yesterday, they started making their cocoons. We will transfer them into the butterfly habitat soon, and then when they hatch, we'll release them outdoors.

Arielle has been keeping a notebook about the caterpillars and we read them The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

We also watched ants tunnel through the Amazing Bugs Ant Kit. Arielle was very scared of ants last summer, but now sh thinks of them as friends. Linnea loves blowing kisses to the "nants" at bed time.

And finally, we put up a bird feeder outside our big living room window. When a bird comes to the feeder Linnea yells "Bwoidie" and Arielle asks "What kind of bird is it?" Then I look it up in my bird guide and we write down the time and date.

Sometimes the squirrels climb in and then we have lots of giggles about "squirrel birds." I wish I had a picture.

We talk to our kids about loving and caring for the Earth but the best way to teach them to love and care is by letting them enjoy nature - hands on. Happy Spring!

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