Now that we are well into the Spring season, we are all enjoying the emergence of a wide array of beautiful wild flowers. It seems we are greeted to a new bloom every day as the weather continues to warm.
I believe that learning to identify our common native wildflowers is an important learning experience for children. While I think it is wonderful that Chi-Chi can readily identify the peonies and daffodils in my perennial garden, I feel it is just as, if not more important, that he and Muffy learn about the plants growing wildly in the backyard. This knowledge and understanding provides children with a greater appreciation and respect for the natural world. Flipping through a book is one thing. Walking through the woods or meadow provides a completely different experience for the mind and senses. A nature walk to identify flowers allows the children to observe the natural habitat of the plant. Does it grow in the moist, shaded forest or the sunny, windswept field? Is the plant soft and delicate or strong and sturdy? What exactly does the woodsy scent of a fern smell like on a damp spring day?
As new flowers appear each day, the boys and I are documenting our findings with our camera. We are creating a diary of the plants and flowers we discover on our nature outings. I like this idea as it will be an ongoing project we can work on well into the late fall. I'm discovering my own general knowledge is still pretty good, though I do require the odd refresher from our reference library. I have my parents to thank for instilling this curiosity about the beauty around me. I hope to offer the same inspiration to my children.
As any parent of a pre schooler, I'm simple amazed at the little ones' ability to retain information. I've got my 2.5 year old identifying dainty little bluets in the backyard and it simply warms my heart. After our nature walk, the boys spent some time arranging a set of lovely bouquets to decorate our home (I advised them to only choose those plants and flowers that were abundant and to spare the rare varieties, such as our collection of blue bead lilies). We will be dining this evening with a fresh bouquet of woodland ferns! You can't buy that at the flower shop!
In retrospect, I'm now appreciating all those dreary April showers as I enjoy my springtime May flowers!