6 Nature-Based Projects for Spring

Spring Projects

We’re off to on Spring Break next week (can grown teachers squee?), but before we go, I thought I’d show you some of the ways I’m thinking about incorporating the upcoming season into my classroom.

Over here in Southern California, we don’t get much in the way of a winter, but we’ve had a bit of rain to get the green going. Things feel refreshed in the way that they should this time of year, even if we did just have some uncommonly hot weather recently. I was delighted, however, to notice that we got enough rain for my students to do something we weren’t able to do last year: flower pressing:

Stocking Up: Pressed Flowers from Playful Learning

When I participated in the Art of Teaching online workshop at Playful Learning last year, I was so inspired by the way Mariah Bruehl incorporated pressed flowers into writing, art and, of course, botany, that I was dying to send my students outside with little baskets for some quality flower picking. Last year–no dice. This year? We’ve got flowers a-pressin’ as I type.

Pressed Flower Projects:

Another project I love doing in the spring is sprouting wheat grass. Last year, I bought planters from the dollar store. This year, I’m recycling milk cartons:

DIY Recycled Hanging Planter from Oh So Very Pretty

I like to sprout a little wheat grass because it brings a little green into the classroom, but also because the students get to see their seeds grow–literally–from the ground up. Furthermore, each student is responsible for his or her own planter. I like to see them give their plant a little TLC or offer to take care of a classmate’s. And it’s fun to see how the wheat grass grows.

Other planter ideas:

Shiitake Mushroom Log from Williams Sonoma

My students have been asking for a class pet and I’m very reluctant. I finally agreed to a Class Fungi, which has made everyone happy. I happen to think mushrooms are very cool, and once I discovered you can grow them in logs, I was even more in love with the idea than ever before. There’s a fantastic element of practical life with this (using the drill! Care of our mushroom log! Cooking with the mushrooms we grow!).

Other mushroom ideas (that aren’t as cool as growing them on a log, but still):

Spring Bird Seed Eggs from Mindful Lifestyle

There are plenty of birds out right now, and what better way to attract them to your doorstep than with a homemade bird feeder? There are plenty of ideas out there, but I happen to think these little eggs are pretty cute–not to mention seasonal. It’s also time to put your binoculars in a prominent position in the classroom, along with a Backyard Bird Guide and a maybe some copies of the local Wildlife Preserve’s Bird Watching Checklist.

Other bird (and butterfly) ideas:

Cloud Inspector from The Techy Teacher

If you want my advice (and you’re reading my blog, so I’ll take it as read that you do), cloud-watching opportunities should be seized whenever they present themselves. It’s not often you’ll find a sky full of the puffy white stuff–instead of a white haze or that boring blue sky everyone raves about. Last week, I took my class out for an afternoon of cloud-watching that morphed into a writing activity and eventually into a rash of haiku:

Cloud Haiku by Room 8

Finally, I’m going to end with something I remember fondly from my childhood–something that’s a little magic and a little science (okay, pretty much just science) solar prints. Also known as cyanotypes, these pieces of blue paper visually demonstrate the photographic process using blue, white and the strength of the sun.

Celebrating the Sun from Purple Twig

Other sun print ideas:

Whatever you do, I hope you get out there and acknowledge the season. Enjoy the green while it lasts!

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