Signs of Spring

Detective Spring!

Teachers… this is a great activity to do with your class on your school grounds.

I call it the ‘Signs of Spring’ worksheet.

Spring flowers –
Typical spring flowers out now would be Lesser Celandine, Herb Robert, Dandelion, Daisy, Primrose, Chickweed, Common Speedwell.
An excellent website I could highly recommend is
www.wildflowersofireland.net

The next item I ask the class to look out for is nest building materials. The children love to build their own nests out of material that they find i.e. feathers, loose moss, and sticks. Birds are great recyclers of all materials found in nature and if they have heat value they will be used.

Most trees are just in the stage of ‘bud burst’ right now – interesting to ask the children what emerges out of the buds –
the answer should be leaves, but often you will get an answer such as ‘apples’ or the like. It is helpful to explain the process of “bud burst” with the children.

Habitat Map - specifically dealing with 'Trees for Bees'
Habitat Map – specifically dealing with ‘Trees for Bees’

Often the buds and the bark are the only distinctive features at this time of the year, so doing bark rubbings can be useful so they can really study and feel the texture of the bark on the different types of trees.

The insects will all be hiding at this time of the year – the temperatures are only starting to warm up to get them moving. Any ladybirds that have survived will start moving around. You might see Bumblebees / Butterflies if you are lucky.

2 7-spot ladybirds overwintering in under cover of a fennel plant in the local allotment
2 7-spot ladybirds overwintering in under cover of a fennel plant in the local allotment

In our recent workshop because the school garden had great woodland trees in their garden they had a great selection of local garden birds that we were able to study. This ranged from the Blackcap, Chaffinch, Robin, Goldcrest, and Goldfinch, along with the common starlings, blackbirds, pigeons, and rooks.

An excellent website I could highly recommend is
www.birdwatchireland.ie

Wherever you find all these animals – you have found their habitat – and you are ready to draw up the spring habitat map! If you find it difficult to find any animals on your school grounds you will need to create more habitats for them to live in!

The children love finding spiders & their webs!Detective Butterfly

Just to note**
Top trees for nectar production:
Most of the honey is collected between mid-June and the end of July when many flowering plants such as white clover and blackberry are in bloom. Trees and Ivy are also rich sources of nectar. The top trees for nectar production are Willow, Apple, Hawthorn, Maple, Pear, Cherry, Lime, Horse Chestnut, Alder, Hazel, Sycamore, and Holly.