Posts tagged ‘spring’

January 28, 2014

Little Sprouts Have Fun in All Seasons!

by Melissa Harding

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We just finished our latest four-week Little Sprouts program, My Four Seasons, and we had so much fun! Campers learned all about the four seasons and how they affect plants and animals, from how a plant makes a seed to why animals hibernate in the winter. Campers sang songs, played games and read stories to help them understand seasonal change in nature.

Week one focused on the falling leaves and dropping temperatures of fall. Campers made leaf prints in play dough and leaf rubbings on paper using differently shaped leaves from around the Conservatory. After they were finished, campers explored tree bark, branches, buckeyes and acorns from our tree bin, as well as played with animal puppets and tree cookies. Campers learned about the different shapes and colors of leaves and why leaves fall off the trees. Finally, campers decorated collecting pouches made from recycled newspaper and used them to collect fallen leaves, seeds, acorns and more during a walk through the Conservatory.

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Week two was about winter and hibernation. Campers created snow scenes on dark construction paper using paint made from dissolved Epsom salts and made salt dough snow men. Using animals puppets, campers learned why animals hibernate in the winter. Finally, we went on a winter scavenger hunt through the Conservatory.

Week three focused on spring, learning about the birth of new plants and animals. Campers made a set of binoculars out of toilet paper rolls and explored the soil, pots, and seeds in our spring bin, as well as our animal puppets. Campers learned about the life cycle of a plant and the inside of a seed by pulling apart pre-soaked lima beans and pretending to be plants in a life cycle pantomime. Finally, we went on a bird hunt through the Conservatory using our new binoculars.

DSC_0117-001Week four was about summer and the colors of the season. Campers created picture frames out of composted leaves and played in our soil and sand sensory bins. We learned about the plants and bugs that are out and about in the summer. Campers planted bail, a delicious summer herb, and went on a color scavenger hunt in the Conservatory.

Little Sprouts programs are a fun way to learn about nature with your child; studies show that exploring nature and the outdoors with a trusted caregiver creates positive attitudes towards nature in both the child and the adult (Louise Chawla, 2006). However, you don’t need to visit the Conservatory to get those benefits. Playing the in backyard or going to the park and observing seasonal changes is a wonderful way to increase both your and your child’s connection to natural cycles.

 If you want to read some great stories about the seasons with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
Time to Sleep  by Denise Fleming
Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall
When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

To see more images from the program, check out the slideshow below!

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Our next Little Sprouts: Single Servings program, My Tropical Adventure, is scheduled for February 20 and 21, 10:30 am-noon. If you would like to sign up your child for a future Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, please visit our website. We hope to see you there!

The above pictures were taken by Science Education Staff.

March 15, 2013

Home Connections: Color Observers

by Melissa Harding

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It may not feel like it, but spring is almost here. Daffodils and tulips are shooting tentative leaves up above the ground and the small, nodding heads of snowdrops are becoming a common sight. Soon, the world will be awash in the bright colors and scents of early spring and winter will seem like a distant memory. This time of year is muddy, warm and just asking to explored! One way to make the most of this time and to promote increased attention to nature is by using a color observer. Color observers are easy to make and incredibly effective at encouraging children of all ages to stop and really look at the world around them.

A color observer is a simple device that children can use to compare the colors they see in the world around them. We make them out of paint chips from the home improvement store; we gather different shades of one or several colors, punch a large hole in each and then bind them together with a ring. Children hold the color observer up to leaves, tree bark, flowers, and even the sky, trying to match what they see through the hole with a colored paint chip. The more choices you put in your color observer, the more closely it will match something in nature. For older children, we use paint chips with multiple colors per chip and make sure there are plenty of options. For younger children, a simple of rainbow of colors can be enough. It is up to you how simple or complex you would like to make your observer.

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Using this tool encourages children to look closely at objects in nature. They begin to notice not just colors, but nuances in shading and texture. This is a great technique to develop observation skills, which are important skills to have. Scientists are great at observing and so are artists; children are naturally curious and tools like color observers help them to see both the science and the art in nature. Closely observing the natural world (and the man-made one, too!) helps children to better appreciate and understand it. It also shows them the beauty of nature, which creates a sense of place. As Rachel Carson wrote in A Sense of Wonder, “If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which seeds must grow.”

Using a color observer is a fun activity to do together; make two and compare your guess with your child’s. You can also work together to create fun color-based art projects that use objects from nature. Find items that match all of the colors in your observer and then use them to make a nature weaving or a diorama. Create monochromatic display jars or match your paint chips to water colors and paint a nature picture. The options are endless!

For some more fun activities to do with paint chips, check out these links:
Paint Chip Matching GameInner Child Life (this is where we got the idea for our own color observers)
Fairy LoomsMoment to Moment
Paint Sample StoryEducation.com
Paint Chip GarlandChocolate Muffin Tree

The above pictures were taken by Christie Lawry.

October 23, 2012

Little Sprouts Have Fun in All Seasons!

by Melissa Harding

We just finished our latest four-week Little Sprouts program, My Four Seasons, and we had so much fun! Campers learned all about the four seasons and how they affect plants and animals, from how a plant makes a seed to why animals hibernate in the winter. Campers sang songs, played games and read stories to help them understand seasonal change in nature.

Week one focused on the falling leaves and dropping temperatures of fall. Campers made leaf prints in play dough and leaf rubbings on paper using differently shaped leaves from around the Conservatory. After they were finished, campers explored tree bark, branches, buckeyes and acorns from our tree bin, as well as played with animal puppets and tree cookies. Our tree puppet came back for a repeat performance and we learned about the different shapes and colors of leaves. Finally, campers decorated collecting pouches made from recycled newspaper and used them to collect fallen leaves, seeds, acorns and more during a tour of the Outdoor Garden.

Week two was about winter and hibernation. Campers created snow scenes on dark construction paper using paint made from dissolved Epsom salts and experimented with melting “icebergs” by pouring warm water over them. Using animals puppets, campers learned why some animals hibernate and played a hibernation dancing game. Finally, campers explored through the Conservatory with magnifying glasses.

Week three focused on spring, learning about the birth of new plants and animals. Campers decorated mosaic picture frames using flowers and petals; when they were finished, they explored the soil, pots, and seeds in our spring bin as well as our animal puppets. Campers learned about the life cycle of a plant and the inside of a seed by pulling apart pre-soaked lima beans and pretending to be plants in a life cycle pantomime. Finally, we took a flower tour of the Conservatory and planted spring flowers to grow at home.

Week four was about summer and vegetable gardens. Campers painted on a big garden mural, using “popsicle” paints made from frozen Kool-Aid and played in our sand sensory bins. We learned how to plant a garden and why gardens are important; we also explored many different vegetables that grow in the garden and even sampled a few! Finally, campers took a tour of the Edible Garden and searched for different vegetables in our Gallery market.

Little Sprouts programs are a fun way to learn about nature with your child; studies show that exploring nature and the outdoors with a trusted caregiver creates positive attitudes towards nature in both the child and the adult (Louise Chawla, 2006). However, you don’t need to visit the Conservatory to get those benefits. Playing the in backyard or going to the park and observing seasonal changes is a wonderful way to increase both your and your child’s connection to natural cycles.

 If you want to read some great stories about the seasons with your own Little Sprout, check out these books:
Time to Sleep  by Denise Fleming
Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall
When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Mitten by Jan Brett
My Spring by Anne Rockwell
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Our next Little Sprouts: Single Servings program, My Favorite Fruits, is scheduled for November 16, 10:30 am-noon. If you would like to sign up your child for a future Little Sprouts program, please contact Sarah at (412)441-4442 ext. 3925.

For a complete list of all our Little Sprout offerings, please visit our website. We hope to see you there!

The above pictures were taken by Christie Lawry.

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