Nature Curriculum: The Spring Equinox

This week’s theme for our nature curriculum was the study of the spring equinox. March 20th signalled the spring (vernal) equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere and as the Earth is finally starting to wake up from its long winters sleep we were hoping for some lovely spring sunshine.

What exactly happens during a spring equinox? The word “equinox” means “equal night” so the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the two days in the year where the hours of light and dark are almost equal. We had planned a spring picnic on this day. I did worry that we would miss this given the unpredictable weather in the previous days, but I needn’t have worried. It was a gloriously (unusually hot) day.  So with a quick M&S stop for food supplies and picnic blanket in hand, we headed to our favourite spot in the grounds of Nostell Priory and laid amongst the daffodils under the trees.

Our reading book for the week was a beautiful little book called Crinkle Crackle CRACK It’s Spring. This is the story of a child that during one winter night awakes to a bear in the back garden. They journey together through the snowy forest as other animals eagerly join in, creating a parade to welcome the spring, the ground thaws, and the icy pond breaks, trees begin to bud and more animals join in until… CRACK! Spring bursts! Perfect for our spring themed week.

Our poem of the week was again taken from the book I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree. There were a couple of really lovely poems in the book signalling the start of Spring, but after careful deliberation, we chose the very beautiful Daffodils by William Wordsworth. I found the words and style of writing a more advanced learning level for Neiva. Her hyperlexia means she is a very advanced reader so she does need challenging in this area.

When it comes to maths work, we put aside our paper based maths work this week and signed up to some really wonderful websites specifically catered towards primary school age children. There are quite a few websites ranging in costs, from free to subscription based to suit all budgets.

Our routine now has slightly adapted as the weeks have progressed. Instead of going out to the school house in the garden first thing, we sit in the house and do some maths work on the laptop first. It saves me taking the laptop back and forth and saves a lot of preparation time once we are in there. We downloaded math based apps on her iPad so even in her leisure time she wants to play these games which only enhance her learning experience. As there are so many apps and programs to choose from I should really do a separate post for this, so if that is something that you are interested in finding out more information on, please leave me a little comment below or via Instagram.

The art of the week (as it turned out) is one of my favourite paintings. Well, actually Claude Monet’s entire springtime collection is. He absolutely loved painting outdoors ‘en plein air’ – in the open air and you can feel his love of the outdoors in every one of his creations. An Orchard in Spring by Claude Monet, 1886, features Monet’s daughter sat reading her book in his Orchard. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

One of the extension tasks to complete in the curriculum this week was to plant wildflowers. I had seen a post on the Nurture Nature Kids Facebook group on planting flower seeds using a newspaper potter. The newspaper is biodegradable eliminating the need for plastic pots. Since we had mountains of Neiva’s old Charlie & Lola magazines lying around the house, it seemed the perfect excuse to reuse them. We purchased some sunflower seeds and a small bag of soil and got to work making our newspaper plant pots. I have to say, this was an absolute hit with Neiva. She loved doing this activity.

We finished our study of the Spring Equinox by making these wonderful flower tarts (like jam tarts except flower shaped and filled with lemon curd). We used Jamie Oliver’s sweet short crust pasty filling which I find works every time, and the flower cookie cutters were from Wilko

Once again, I am finding that this curriculum is enhancing Neiva’s learning experience so much. She really is going from strength to strength. Friends and family have noticed in the last few weeks she is so calm, happier and much more conversational. It really is the most wonderful way to learn.

Next week….. Snails!

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