Springtime! It's been a lovely month of gardening and planting, bugs, birds and baby animals. Dear Boy's childcare centre helped us out quite a lot in the baby animal stakes, setting up an incubator and heated glass case for a dozen gloriously golden chicks as they hatched. They watched the eggs for days, catching the first cracks and then glimpses of beak and foot and little faces emerging. They gently stroked the downy fluff and watched as the chicks grew in their feathers.
At home, we cleared out the last of the winter garden, renewed the soil and planted seeds for cucumber, corn, basil and sunflowers. There were quite a few strewn around the garden and it'll be interesting to see if anything grows from what was left behind from the birds that feast across the lawn.
Inside, the themed play took a decidedly buggy turn. It seems we have an awful lot of books that feature ladybirds ('ladybirds, Mummy, not ladybugs') and quite a few versions now of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and caterpillar accouterments. Some favourites from our own collection and the library include:
- Pull-back Busy Bug Book (by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Ben Mantle) - this fat tome that we got as a present when Dear Boy was tiny features a little pull-back ladybird, that wriggles itself along the trail across four scenes/page spreads. You follow the ladybird as she makes her way home, keeping a look out for all the other critters she spots along the way.
- Peppa Pig: Little Creatures (from the Read it yourself with Ladybird series). Peppa and George pretend to be snails and bees, learning where honey comes from. We picked up a handful of these books at the ABC Shop and Dear Boy loves them. They're great for parents too with guided reading questions at the back so you can chat more about what's in the book.
- A Melissa and Doug magnetic/wooden bug-catching game that I picked up on sale at Toys R Us. After science month, Dear Boy has been much more interested in magnets and catching these bugs has introduced him for the first time to grasshoppers, fireflies and dragonflies. He can also identity a Monarch butterfly. Clever clogs.
- Pigs Have Piglets (by Graeme Base). This fold out book was a great library find that we took into childcare a few time when the chicks were hatching. Very different from Base's other books but good learning tools.
- Bug House (My Amazing Pop-Up Treehouse, illustrated by Dudley Moseley). This is the story of the Ladybird family who live in the branches of Big Old Tree. The book comes with press-out cardboard characters and the final pages unfurl into an amazing 360-degree pop-up paper tree house. Dear Boy's been amazing with it, playing for long chunks of time and narrating stories. I've only had to tape one door back on after some aggressive entrances by the younger ladybirds.
For our adventure this month, we headed back to Melbourne Zoo, but hung out for quite a while in the butterfly house. Dear Boy was fascinated, and perhaps just a little freaked out by the enormous ones. Lovely Husband was a butterfly magnet, attracting the randy mating pairs that we had to shake off when we exited. Just outside the enclosure they've set up a new exhibit for the Lord Howe Island stick insect (freaky and weird enough for Dear Boy to check it all out but the exhibit itself was pretty uninspiring). We also had a lovely time in the sandpit near the tortoise enclosure, digging for the (concrete) turtle eggs at different stages of hatching.
We didn't get to watch much in the way of movies this month (Planes and Cars featured prominently) but we had A Bug's Life and Antz on hand. ABC4Kids provided us with: Maya The Bee, Tree Fu Tom, Peter Rabbit, Timmy Time to help us keep the TV spring-themed.
In terms of songs, I had Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on repeat in my head - very hard not to get my Jane Powell trill on. For Dear Boy we had a few loud choruses of
- Justine Clarke's 'Doin' It' - one of my favourites of hers.
- 'Five Little Ducks'
- 'Galumph Went the Little Green Frog'
- Sesame Street's 'Ladybugs' Picnic' - total classic from my childhood.
- 'The Ants Go Marching One By One' - although I'm slightly suspect of the theme or the politics behind this one.
- 'Incy Wincy Spider'
There wasn't a whole lot of craft happening as Dear Boy was preferring free form drawing, but we did recycle some tissue paper packaging and a pipe cleaner or two into a butterfly and a caterpillar. They've been crawling and flying about the small world box with some little plastic critters, our leftover green paper grass/straw and leaves and nuts from a walk through the urban bush nearby. If you're interested in spring-themed activities and craft ideas, check out our Intentional Play board on Pinterest.
I suspect there'll be a whole lotta crafting going on next month. We're all a little excited for our universe theme - stars, planets, comets, astronauts, earth and maps - although daylight savings starting next weekend will make that interesting. There may be one or two late nights to come or a trip to the Planetarium.
Have you been doing any Spring-themed play (or Autumn themed - hey Northern Hemisphere folks)? Do you have any favourite family-friendly spring activities?