The science of spring

Short stuff: Education

Celebrate the warmer temperatures this month with three easy hands-on projects that will help your kids better understand the science behind spring.

Make a rain gauge and track the showers that bring May flowers. Sprout your very own herb or flower garden in an egg carton. Mix and mold your own sidewalk chalk and decorate your sidewalks with colorful drawings and hopscotch.

Be sure to check out the recommended books and Web sites to round out your fun learning experience.

Measure rainfall with your own rain gauge

You’ll need a jar with straight sides, a ruler and rainy days. Tape the ruler to the outside of the jar. Place the jar outside.

Make a chart and graph the rain level each day.

Check out:

Rain by Robert Kalan, illustrated by Donald Crews

Let’s Read about Rain, from the Let’s Read about Weather series, by Kristin Boerger is a Web site devoted to fun weather facts, created by meteorologist Crystal Wicker.

Create an egg carton window garden

You’ll need a biodegradable paper egg carton, seeds (basil, marigolds, pansies, sunflowers), potting soil and a sunny window.

Cut the lid off the carton and add soil to each egg pod (until about¾ full). Add the seeds and the cover with more soil until the pod is filled. Remind your child to keep the soil moistened—a sprayer filled with water works best.

When your seedlings are hearty and warmer spring weather has arrived, send your children off to plant the entire carton in the backyard.

Check out:

From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons

The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book About How Living Things Grow by Joanna Cole, John Speirs and Bruce Degan

Help Detective LePlant and his partners Bud and Sprout unlock the amazing mysteries of plant life at (created by the University of Illinois Urban Program Resources Network).

Make your own colorful sidewalk chalk

You’ll need Plaster of Paris and powdered tempera paint (available at craft and art supply stores) and molds (ice cube tray, toilet paper roll, paper/plastic cups, candy molds).

Mix 1 cup of Plaster of Paris with one cup of water. Add color using the tempera paints—you can even experiment with swirls by lightly mixing the paint powder in with a stick. Pour inside molds and dry for 24 hours. Remove from mold and let dry another 24 hours. It’s time for hopscotch.

Check out:

Sidewalk Chalk: Outdoor Fun and Games by Jamie Kyle McGillian

Sidewalk Chalk: Poems of the City by Carole Boston Weatherford and Dimitrea Tokunbo

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