Signs of spring: what to look out for when outdoors in spring
It can be hard to encourage little ones to spend time outside, especially when the days remain a bit chilly and the sun still rises late and sets quite early. Sitting on the sofa with an iPad may be a more attractive option – for them and perhaps for you too. However, the health advantages of playtime and the benefits of getting children to spend time outdoors and in nature are well-documented, so sometimes you need to find a new way to motivate the family to embrace outdoors activity.
One fun way to persuade youngsters to step outside is to give them a challenge. Why not ask them to investigate the first signs of spring at their local park?
Finding the first flowers of spring
Did you know that snowdrops symbolise hope? Their Latin name is Galanthus nivalis, which means ‘milk flower of the snow’. That sounds very wintry, but these little white flowers, usually the first wild flowers to bloom in the year, are a very encouraging sign that spring is on the way and the days are starting to get longer. Although all snowdrops are white, there are lots of different types too, and close inspection will reveal the differences between them. Young children, who are just learning to count, will find it fun count how many snowdrops they can find in the shortest length of time, while older ones will enjoy locating them and identifying them too. Crocuses, in shades of white, purple and gold, will soon start to push through the grass as well. How many can everyone find, and in how many different colours too? Who can take the best pictures to capture the first signs of spring this year?
Budding hope that spring is on the way
Trees start to bud very early in spring. Ash, beech, oak and rowan trees are usually the first ones to show signs of spring being on the way as their leaf buds start to appear. It can be hard to identify different trees before their leaves fully unfurl, so why not turn to technology for some help – always a popular choice for youngsters. There are a number of different apps you can use to help identify which tree is which, using their bark as your first clue. Perhaps everyone can guess what colour the blossom will be and enjoy finding out who was right in the months to come.
Birdsong starting up is another sure sign that spring is just around the corner. Early birds start to sing to find a mate and defend their territories against their rivals. Again, there are some very handy apps for finding out the difference between the song of a blackbird, a robin, a song thrush and many more.
Frogs or toads?
Does your local park have a pond? If so, have a careful look for frog and toad spawn around the shallow edges. It’s quite easy to tell the difference between them. Frog spawn is laid in clumps, while toad spawn is found in long chains. Who will be the first person to spot a tiny tadpole wiggling its way through the water?
Spring officially starts in March, but you can find the first signs that spring is on its way much sooner. Why not visit your local park today and see what you can find?
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