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Using the 5 senses to discover signs of spring with children


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Updated: 6/28/2012 2:41 pm Published: 6/28/2012 2:41 pm


(ARA) - From the moment a groundhog looks for his shadow in February, until the new baby bunnies, chicks and birds appear, the arrival of spring is marked with celebrations and excitement across the country. Spring fever usually sets in well before the warmer temperatures and green grasses return, making this the perfect time to start looking for signs of the coming spring season with kids. These signs return every year, so teach children to experience Mother Nature using the five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell and sounds. Touch: For colder regions, winter must leave before spring can arrive. Melting snow is one of the very first signs warmer weather is around the corner. Rising temperatures is a big change everyone can feel. The earth slowly warms, bringing plants to life anew. For a "hands-on" experience, gather spring garden elements. Soil, water, seeds and light all work together to help plants grow - the basics of photosynthesis. Even if it is still too cold for an outdoor garden, get kids gardening indoors by planting a small tabletop garden. Miracle-Gro Kids has developed a series of small gardening kits for kids that make this process rewarding. Simply plant the garden, place it in a sunny area, water and watch for sprouts. Taste: Spring greens are some of the first tastes from the garden. Pot a "grown-up" table-top container garden or visit the first local farmers market selling home-grown ingredients for salads this spring. Maple syrup is another great taste of spring. The first maple tree sap flows right before the leaves appear, sometime between late February and early April. This is when maple sugar and maple syrup production is at its best. Celebrate by learning how to tap a tree or visit a sugar house. Kids will love seeing how much work goes into making the syrup they put on their pancakes, and might even get to sample maple candy or maple sugar for a delicious treat. Sight: In spring, flowers bloom, leaves bud, birds build nests and the backyard fills with life. One of the most obvious signs of spring's arrival is the appearance of flowers. Even before the snow has melted, tiny crocuses can often be seen peeking out, making the statement that spring is, indeed, approaching. Make a scrapbook or photographic diary of which flowers are spotted first in your area. Flowers and blossoms are only part of the colorful sights. Many animals are returning from migration. Most people are not aware that earthworms migrate, so be on the lookout. Earthworms make one of the shortest annual migrations, coming above ground only when the earth begins to thaw and the soil is ready for new root growth. Their appearance above ground is a gardener's reminder that the ground is almost warm enough for planting. Animals and birds will then return to gobble up these tasty morsels as quick forms of protein. To further explore the underground world of gardening, try the Miracle-Gro Kids Root Viewer to let kids experience what goes on underground in spring before plants appear above ground. Children can watch as seeds germinate and roots grow right before their eyes. Smell: Spring brings soothing scents like lilacs, apple blossoms, hyacinth and daffodils. Sweet aromas turn a stroll through the garden into a delicacy for the nose. The smell of fresh, cool air wafting into an open window or the scent of laundry that's been hung out to dry in the sun are some of the greatest moments of spring. And, of course, the pleasant smell of freshly cut grass after that first mowing of the year is a reminder of all the summer fun just around the corner. Sounds: In the spring, birds returning from long migrations are busy building nests, looking for food and laying eggs. Their singing and twittering are a welcomed signal that spring has truly arrived. Set up a bird feeder in the backyard or patio and take turns documenting which feathered friends visit most frequently. In addition to the birds, frogs are also making their spring appearance in many parts of the country, filling the night air with song. Listen for their high-pitched calls in the evenings, especially around wet areas like lakes and ponds. The signs of spring are popping up all around. Using your five senses to discover them will lead to hours of fun for the whole family. With a little luck, it may actually help make the time go a little faster and spring come a little sooner.

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