There’s no better time to start spotting the signs of the changing seasons with your children than whilst on the journey to nursery. Spring arrives on the 20th of March* each year in the UK and is a wonderful antidote to the cold winter months and short, dark evenings. It’s a time when you know warmer weather will soon be on its way. Evenings are getting slowly longer too. Best of all, a myriad of little miracles are starting to happen around you, as flowers and shrubs reawaken and plants can be seen shooting up from the ground. Many birds will also return to the UK from their foreign travels around springtime, often having travelled thousands of miles to get back to the UK. So, why not make your child’s journey to and from nursery a bit more exciting — and educational — by encouraging them to spot and identify some of these natural delights. Below are a few plants and creatures for children to keep an eye out for around the end of winter, signalling the welcome start of springtime …
Snowdrops flower early in the year and quite literally look like little drops of snow. Like the crocus, which is shown in the main image at the top, snowdrops are one of the very first flowers to bloom in the first part of the year. When you see them first start to shoot and bloom, you and your children can be sure that spring is just around the corner. Soon there will be flowers, buds and shoots everywhere, as spring finally arrives and everything starts to reappear after the cold winter months. Children will be able to spot snowdrops often in small bunches of about 10 or so stems, in gardens, parks and wooded areas. They’re delightful little flowers, perfectly formed to visually appeal to little ones. Teach your child to admire them, but not pick them, as they are poisonous if consumed. In any case, they’ll be there for all to admire when left alone, so that they can grow and flourish. Learn more about snowdrops here.
Daffodils are a classic sign of spring in the UK with their bright, blooming buds breaking through the gloominess of winter. Daffodils begin to grow and flower during the month of February and should be in full bloom throughout March and all the way into May.
On your walk to nursery with your children, perhaps ask them how many different types of daffodils they can see. Many people will be growing them in their gardens and in flower pots on balconies and windowsills. And, of course, many flourish in open countryside along hedgerows and often in shaded woodlands. See if your child can spot yellow, trumpet-like flowers, yellow petals with an orange inner, daffodils with white petals or the tiny daffodils called tête-à-tête. As with snowdrops, be aware that daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so it’s best to teach children not to pick them, which will also allow others to enjoy them as they pass. Where else to see daffodils.
Winter can be cold, dark and desolate. However, a sure sign that spring is on the way is birdsong. As the mornings get lighter, birdsong starts earlier. This can be made up of robins, blackbirds, wrens and other birds native to the United Kingdom. The beauty of such sounds is often overlooked, so when you first step out of your door on the way to nursery, get your children to stand still for fifteen or twenty seconds to listen to the birds, counting how many they can hear if they are able to. Even better; see if they can gradually work out what type of bird is making each of the sounds. Visiting the RSPB’s interactive birdsong identifier is a fabulous place for children to start learning about this wonder of nature.
Bees are incredibly important for pollinating plants across the world. They’re also incredibly cute — especially bumblebees! As spring begins and flowers start to blossom again, the UK sees an increase in the number of bees in gardens and the countryside. This increase continues throughout the summer and autumn. On your walk to nursery throughout spring, you and your little ones may see Tree Bumblebees, which can be easily spotted by their distinct colouring. Whilst a regular garden bumblebee has bright yellow areas, a Tree Bumblebee has a tawny head and upper body, a black lower body, and a white tip/tail.
It’s important to teach little ones that bees are friendly when left in peace (many do not even have stings) and must be protected in order to keep ecosystems functioning and growing. And, of course, they should be protected and nurtured because they’re simply adorable little creatures. Learn more about bees here.
Frog Spawn & Tadpoles
If you live near a park with a pond or happen to have one in the back garden, a definite sign of spring arriving is the presence of frog spawn. Initially, this can look like hundreds of little black dots sitting on the surface of the water. If your little one keeps an eye on these over the course of March (under supervision, for safety, of course), they will see these dots gradually turn into tadpoles, which will get bigger and bigger. A fun activity for your children is to get them to look at the frogspawn twice a week, under supervision, and to draw it on a piece of paper. Then, once the tadpoles have turned into frogs, they can look back at their own artwork to see the journey of spawn to fully-fledged frog! Alternatively, if your children aren’t at drawing age, you can take a photo on your phone each week and then compare them together once the tadpoles have grown. It’s a great way for them to learn about nature and life itself.
A very easy-to-spot sign of spring is buds on trees. Buds are often growing flowers or leaves which will come into bloom across spring and summer. Whilst on your walk to nursery, get your children to look up at any trees that you pass to see if there are any buds on the branches. If there are, a fun challenge could be to check that same tree every week and count how many weeks it takes to bloom. There are some very interesting buds and blooms for children to look out for, for example catkins, which have dangling yellow fronds and pussy willow, which has beautifully soft ‘fur’ on its buds. Indeed, the soft hairs are there to protect and insulate the buds from cold, since they bloom so early in the year. Many people liken the soft pussy willow buds to tiny cats’ paws. Both varieties are sure to delight and fascinate young children!
The above signs of spring are just a few that you can spot whilst on your journey to nursery or pre-school. Learning about and appreciating nature are excellent ways of enriching the lives of your children and may spark an interest in wildlife and plants as they grow up. Nature will teach them so much and benefit them in so many ways — educationally, cognitively and spiritually.
Nature & Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston
Children learn about and enjoy nature at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. As well as having our own seed, herb, plant and vegetable area for the children to enjoy and learn from, we have our own Forest School in Edgbaston near Birmingham. There, children are able to spend time in natural open spaces like woodlands, where they will learn and benefit from nature in so many ways. As well as being educational, spending time in a natural environment is very good for children, as many studies have shown.
Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham
Are you looking for a good nursery or pre-school place for your baby, toddler or child under five in Edgbaston or near Birmingham? Get in touch with us, if so, and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around, so you can see how well they will fit in. We support all Government-funded places, including their ‘free hours’ schemes for eligible children aged 2 to 4. We’re also located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick, so may be conveniently located if you live or work in any of those places nearby. Please choose a button below to get started:
* Spring starts on 20th March according to the astronomical calendar. There are other definitions of the start of spring, but the astronomical calendar is the most commonly recognised by the general public. In contrast, the meteorological calendar, for example, has the seasons starting on the first of the month in March, June, September and December, rather than 20 or more days in.