The official first day of spring is March 20. Though it is unlikely that day will actually feel like spring in Chicago, now is the time to start preparing your kids for the change of seasons and eventual arrival of spring (after all, the weather will warm up at some point).
A scavenger hunt is a great way to focus your child's attention on the seasonal changes to come. To make this activity authentic, create a list of sought-after items and distribute the list to each member of the family. Create an incentive for your scavengers by offering a spring-themed prize-like a bike ride along the lakefront or an after-dinner excursion to your local ice cream parlor.
This list can include items commonly found in most Chicago neighborhoods, but consider customizing your scavenger hunt to include signs of spring that are unique to your neck of the woods.
1. Bird nests
During the spring months, many types of migrating birds return to the Chicago area. During this busy time, birds are building their nests, laying their eggs and gathering food for their young. Visit a nearby park or nature preserve to see if you can spot bird nests and identify the type of bird making its home there. Birds of Illinois by Stan Tekiela is a handy field guide to have on hand.
2. Bulbs popping up from the ground
Crocus, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths all start to emerge from the soil-always a sure sign of warmer times ahead.
3. Buds on trees and bushes
In particular, look for the lovely yellow blooms that are abundant in our area in late March and early April when the temperature is still on the cool side.
You know what they say about April showers, right? Throw on a pair of rain boots and splish splash in Mother Nature's water works.
5. Baby animals
Spring is a time of rebirth and there is no better place to observe this renewal than the animal kingdom.
6. The return of warm weather sports
Local parks that were filled with eager sledders and snowmen builders just a few weeks ago are now home to baseball and softball teams. Tennis courts and running paths once again see foot traffic. Active Chicagoans happily take to the outdoors-join them and enjoy another beautiful spring in Chicago.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.