I know better than to say Spring is here in Michigan, but it’s definitely waking up. Right now our maple sap is boiling, ewes are showing and we even heard a peeper in the woods! Phenology, a big part of our Outschooling journey, is the study of how the biological world times natural events. I like to think of it as nature’s calendar. Every Sandhill Crane call, lime green shoot and cherry blossom we celebrate brings us closer to our wild community and each other.
One way we are bearing witness to and marking the season is through our Signs of Spring art wall!
What Is a Signs of Spring Art Wall?
It’s a collaborative art project where we record all the signs of Spring as they unfold. The Art wall is where we document our nature sightings (i.e. the return of the geese, thawing of our pond or blooming of the crocus), and other cyclical events/experiences that are exciting or relevant to the kids. The sky is the limit on what you want to record together!
What You Need
1. A big piece of butcher paper and tape to hang it
2. Crayons, markers, paints or your kids’ favorite art materials
3. (Optional) Sticky velcro and laminated pictures of signs of Spring in your area
4. (Optional) Pictures of your kids playing and discovering signs of Spring outside
What You Do
1. Tape the butcher paper to a vertical surface where the kids can reach.
2. Put the art materials and laminated items somewhere near the Art Wall.
Note: We laminated our Spring signs because we will be creating an inventory for years to come.
3. Explain the project and how to look for signs and evidence of Spring in the environment.
4. After spending time in nature, write, draw, tape or velcro some of the signs you encountered onto the Art Wall. To denote the season’s progression, we are attaching and drawing our images/art from left to right. But, of course it’s fine to just let the kids write anywhere on the canvas – just do what works for you!
5. The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education has been transformative for us (more on this soon :). Documentation, or “making a child’s thoughts visible” is an aspect of the Reggio-inspired method. To that end, I’ll be attaching photos of us playing and exploring in nature around the Art Wall. “Documentation is not about what we do, but what we are searching for.” – Carla Rinaldi
FREE PRINTABLE: Signs of Spring, Phenology ABCs
The Wild Child is starting to show a bit more interest in reading and the alphabet. We’re not pushing that agenda on her, but thought this might be a fun way to explore that interest. We’ll write or draw a picture of a Spring sign in each corresponding box (i.e. A dandelion would go in the “D” box). Feel free to be creative, “Z” could be Zinnia seeds, or “H” could be the heat of the sun.
Just click on the image below to get this free Signs of Spring, Phenology ABCs printable.
Here are some books, websites and a free printable that are perfect companions to this experience:
1. The National Phenology Network
2. Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives and Nature’s Calendar
3. Project Budburst
5. The Great Backyard Bird Count
6. Nature Journaling & Phenology via Playful Learning
7. “Scats, Tracks and Signs” by Leslie Dendy
Also, a huge thanks to my dear friend Sally of Grow Wise Learning for this idea. She first introduced me to the idea of a seasonal writing wall, and it was a huge inspiration for me!
If you do end up creating this, I would love to see it in progress and follow along with your family or class as the season unfurls! Please tag your Art Wall #signsofspring so we can find each other.
Your Woman Gone Wild,
PIN FOR LATER!