Preschool at Home–Seasons and Bulbs

Planting Bulbs 2
This week, we focused on the seasons of the year. In particular, we focused on planting spring bulbs. We partly did this, because my spring bulbs have gotten very sparse since Dora was born and also partly because Dora loves gardening. Mostly, however, I am obsessed with flowering bulbs. I was inspired to do a unit on bulbs by the book, Science is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers, and then read about a cool experiment in The Usborne Book of Science Activities, Volume Two, that I wanted to try.

Begonia 2
Bulbs offer a great way to look at the seasons, particularly for a child that is as fascinated with gardening as Dora is. Spring bulbs are planted during the fall. They are small, dried out, ugly, withered-looking things, full of promise. While we humans hunker down in the winter, we forget about them out there, enduring Mother Nature’s worst, just biding their time for the right moment. Then, in the late winter, before the weather even gets nice enough to think of gardening, just when we need cheering the most, the crocuses and daffodils are out, announcing the end of winter, whether it is actually here or not. Again, another riot of color bursts forth, during the middle and end of spring, with the tulips and anemone providing a show throughout the summer. Even now, as I decorate the front of our house for Halloween and store the hoses for winter, my begonias are still flowering in their hanging baskets, as if summer hasn’t ended and they haven’t a care in the world.
Bulb Experiment
So, yes, I am a bit obsessed with flowering bulbs and any excuse to examine them closer is something that I am keen on. The bulb science experiment that I wanted to try comes down to forcing a bulb to bloom by putting it in a jar of water, such that the bottom of the bulb just touches the water. You then put the jar in a dark place and let it bloom (I don’t quite understand why it needs to be dark – mimicking winter perhaps?). The book doesn’t clarify if all bulbs will work with this, it recommends an amaryllis, but thus far our bulb seems to be working (I think I used a daffodil, but we’ll hopefully see soon enough). A bulb stores all of the sunlight and nutrients needed for the plant to grow. The book does not discuss freezing the bulbs, which I have always heard was necessary for bulbs to bloom. I decided to risk that the bulbs that I bought had been through some sort of freeze already. Our bulb has started growing some roots and I will try to remember to post a follow-up on the experiment in a few weeks.
Molbaks 4
We bought all of our bulbs at Molbak’s, which is a nursery in Woodinville, WA. If you are ever in the Seattle area and you like gardening, be sure to check this place out. They now call themselves Molbak’s Garden + Home, as they have added tons of things besides gardening supplies and plants. I haven’t quite determined whether they keep Christmas decorations out all year or not – we’ve just recently started going there frequently, as it right by one of Gohan’s classes. Currently, half the store is devoted to Christmas decorations, and this place is huge. As an idea to how large and varied they are, they have a whole section devoted to origami Christmas decorations, that are actually ceramic reproductions of origami. That sounds weird, but try to imagine how many Christmas decorations a place must carry if they can afford to devote one whole section to ceramic origami Christmas ornaments?!?! They also have a restaurant, tons of plants for sale, varied pots and planters, a huge selection of fountains, and more. Lest, you go in there naively unaware, however, I must forewarn you that they are not cheap. Dora loves the fountain section and I was somewhat eyeballing a fountain that is far too large for our yard anyway, when I noticed this price sticker on it!!!!
Molbaks 7
I would also like to point out that the most entertaining thing in Molbak’s, as far as three-year olds are concerned, is the small section of artificial turf with a hand fertilizer on it.
Molbaks 13
I read several seasonal books with Dora and the only one that really struck a cord with Dora was Leaf Man by Lois Elhert. I hadn’t really planned to focus on leaves this week, but she spied this book and insisted I read it right then and there. The story line is just okay, in my opinion, but the things Elhert does with the leaves is beautiful and Dora was enraptured with the way the page tops formed the landscapes (i.e. jagged for pine trees, rolling for hills and maple trees, etc.).
Leaf Man 2
Immediately, Dora started talking about “Leaf Man” whenever she saw leaves. Currently, we take a walk most afternoons, per her request. We meander here and there and examine what is growing, dying, changing, in our neighborhood. We have been collecting leaves, rocks, pinecones, and all other sorts of nature’s treasures, storing them in a basket. So we decided to try our hand at making our own “Leaf Man”. We used Mod Podge under and on top of the leaves. After doing this art activity, I am even more impressed with Elhert’s leaf art than I was before, it is not so easy to design things with leaves. We also learned that it is best to press the leaves some before Mod Podging, them, else they tend to curl up and not want to lay flat on the page. Finally, I learned that preschoolers and Mod Podge are a very, very, very messy combination!
Leaf Man 1
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Labels: Nature Study, Phonics and Reading, Preschool, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff