As winter makes its exit and spring bursts onto the scene with its warmth, color and signs of new life, pre-k children will be excited to engage with the changing season. Through crafts and other activities, they can observe and begin to understand nature in action. With your guidance and their imagination, you can both see seeds germinate, butterflies evolve and other notable springtime happenings take place.
Faces of Springtime
Watch the growing process of seeds and style a great hairstyle, too, by making grass heads with your pre-k child. First, help her decorate a clear plastic cup to make a silly face. Provide her with stick-on googly eyes, pom-pom noses and crescent-shaped smiles, cut in advance from construction paper. Use craft glue as needed to apply the facial features, and allow the glue to dry before proceeding. Together, fill the cup with potting soil. Sprinkle a small handful of quick-seed grass seed over the top of the dirt and water until the soil is damp. Place the cup on a sunny windowsill and, over the next week, watch as the seeds sprout into grass "hair." Allow your pre-k child to observe each day how tall the grass has grown above the soil line, as well as how long the roots have grown below the soil line. Water the cup as needed. When the "hair" has grown between 3 and 4 inches long, help your child "style" it with child-safe scissors, paper bows and other creative hair accessories.
Life of a Butterfly
Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly with your pre-k child by crafting each stage together. Represent the egg stage with a single pom-pom. If desired, use craft glue to add a tiny pair of googly eyes to the pom-pom. Create the caterpillar stage by gluing a row of four to five pom-poms to a strip of card stock paper that has been cut to size. Add a pair of googly eyes to the first pom-pom. Decorate a single clothespin to represent the chrysalis stage, using washable markers in muted colors, such as brown or gray. Help your child draw "sleepy" eyes near the top of the chrysalis to convey this stage as a time of stillness. Make the final butterfly stage using another clothespin decorated by your pre-k child with washable markers of any color. Provide a coffee filter to decorate with markers, as well, and when he has completed the design, spray the filter lightly with water, causing the marker colors to spread and blend. When the coffee filter has dried, cinch it together in the middle and clip it with the clothespin to make the butterfly's wings. Add a pair of googly eyes to the clothespin for the final touch. Attach a self-adhesive magnet strip to the back of each craft and display all four stages together, in a row, on a refrigerator or other magnetic surface.
Hunting for Spring
Discover signs of spring with your pre-k child on a nature hunt. Chose a set of six or 12 springtime items your child will be able to find and safely gather in your yard or at a local park, such as grass, green leaves, dirt, flower buds, feathers and dandelion or helicopter seeds. Print small pictures of these items, or hand-draw them on a piece of paper, and cut them to size. Paste each image into the bottom of an empty egg carton, which will serve as the holder for the nature hunt. Explain the hunt to your child and help her look for and collect each sign of spring, taking care to avoid potentially harmful items, such as prickly or poisonous plants. When the hunt is complete, look over the items with your child and discuss the features of each.
Make a pair of binoculars with your pre-k child to observe birds in spring. Allow your child to decorate two empty toilet tissue rolls with stickers, glitter, washable paints or markers, and other age-appropriate crafting materials. When the rolls have completely dried, use a hot glue gun to join the rolls together, side by side, for your child. After the hot glue has dried, punch a hole near the outside top edge of each roll. Measure a length of brightly colored yarn that will be long enough to fit over your child's head and string the yarn through each hole, knotting securely. Have your child wear the binoculars outdoors and, together, look for birds. Note the various colors, sizes and sounds of each bird that you observe, as well as their activities. Discuss spring as a time for baby birds and use the binoculars to try and spot nests.
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