Mushrooms | Spring classroom ideas

Sharing some spring nature-based classroom ideas from our windowsills and grounds to yours.  The weather prediction for Cos Cob was pretty chilly, and there are still piles of snow and layers of clothes to put on in the Pinetum.

Here are four steps we took to prepare for our toddler explorers on a cool spring day, before enjoying the surprises we found together.

 Step 1:  WINDOWSILLS

We take our windowsill planters off the windowsill to the crates below, so they can be watered (we feel the soil and dampen with a spray bottle), the plants observed (those paperwhites just bloomed), and plants groomed (we check for insects and leaf damage or new healthy growth towards the sunshine).
We take our planters off the windowsill to the crates below, so they can be watered (we feel the soil and dampen with a spray bottle), the plants observed (the paperwhites just bloomed), and plants groomed (we check for insects and leaf damage or new healthy growth – fun for chores, but also to inspire stretching our own limbs towards the sunshine).

Step 2:  COMPOST STATION

See the yellow leaves on the windowsill kale?  They can be removed and fed to the worms in the green vermicomposting bin.  A little compost observation station is set up on the desk.  The two little red wigglers in our station are ceremoniously removed their temporary station and returned to their home bin before we leave our classroom for a hike.  They've got work to do, and they like the dark bin.
See the yellow leaves on the windowsill kale? They can be removed and fed to the worms in the green vermicomposting bin. A little compost observation station is set up on the desk. The two little red wigglers in our station are ceremoniously removed their temporary station and returned to their home bin before we leave our classroom for a hike. They’ve got work to do, and they prefer the dark bin.

STEP 3:  A STORY STATION

We packed our snowy white story blanket away for Spring, then we had to take it out again, for a surprise snow.  Today we took out a new brown soil-like blanket to sit on for our story.  Now we like to pretend we are bulbs, sitting on the soil, we ball up underneath the soft white snowy blanket and wait for the sun to melt it all away.  Some soft reading buddies hid under the snow with us today, and they were so excited for spring sunshine, we took them on our hike with us today.
We packed our snowy white story blanket away for Spring, then we had to take it out again, for another snow. Today we took out a new brown soil-like blanket to sit on for our story. We still kept our snowy blanket out though, we like to pretend we are bulbs, sitting on the soil, we ball up underneath the soft white snowy blanket and wait for the sun to melt it all away. Some soft reading buddies hid under the snow with us today, and they were so excited for spring sunshine, we took them on our hike with us today.

  STEP 4:  A CRAFTY HANDS-ON TABLE

this table of supplies is ready for some ideas.  we can cut off daffodil blossoms, maybe leave a couple on so we can watch the seeds develop. The pussy willow branches we'll cut the end off of and see if they root in water or blossom!
This table of supplies is ready for some ideas. we can cut off daffodil blossoms, maybe leave a couple on so we can watch the seeds develop.
The pussy willow branches we’ll cut the end off of and see if they root in water or blossom.  What will happen after they spend a week in water?
each branch a bud can be explored closely at.
each branch a bud can be explored closely at.
inspired:  small soft paintbrushes are fun, but what about using a full branch as a giant paintbrush!  What a great idea, mushrooms!
inspired ideas: small soft paintbrushes and using a full branch as a giant paintbrush! What a great idea, mushrooms!
    color inspiration nearby - and look how our daffodils have changed since last week!
color inspiration nearby – and look how our daffodils have changed since last week!
A collecting jar to look closely at a spider find - before releasing it.  What kind of spider is that, we wonder?
A collecting jar nearby so we can look closely at a spider find – before releasing it. What kind of spider is that, we wonder?
Some sparkly patches of snow crystals. two favorite moments: picking up icy cool crystals and listening to the sound of it in our hands, and visiting the pond to see if the ice has melted.
Some sparkly patches of snow crystals. two favorite moments: picking up icy cool crystals and listening to the sound of it in our hands, and visiting the pond to see if the ice has melted.  P.S.  in some places, it has!  We remembered seeing deer tracks that went clear across the frozen pond a month ago.  We think the ice is too thin for them now, they’ll have to go around.
We hope you are all finding some special enjoyable moments of nature-based playtime during these early days of spring in your indoor and outdoor green spaces.  Happy Spring!
We hope you are all finding some special enjoyable moments of nature-based playtime during these early days of spring in your indoor and outdoor green spaces.  We encourage you to enjoy the Montgomery Pinetum as Spring wakes up and please share little finds (like these snowdrops in front of the greenhouse) that you think our Mushroom explorers will enjoy.  Happy Spring!

Cos Cob, CT:  April 1:  Sunny, with a high near 48. Wind chill values between 20 and 30 early. Northwest wind 9 to 11 mph

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