It's An Early Spring!
by Jay Davidson
With our early warm weather this year, spring has come sooner than usual. It's a rejuvenation process that we can see all around us, as well as feel inside ourselves. It's a wonderful time to plant seeds.
This is an activity that is easy to work on together at home and it can be a fun lesson for children to learn about the way things grow.
You may buy seeds, but you can also sprout several things that you probably already have in the house, such as a potato, sweet potato, or carrot top. You could also see what happens when you plant seeds from fruit or vegetables you eat at home.
The Tiny Seed is a wonderful book by Eric Carle. It chronicles the cycle of a seed being planted and growing into a flower. This is but one of many cycles of life that children can learn about in order to appreciate the wonder of the world around them.
Another Eric Carle book, Pancakes, Pancakes, chronicles the steps it takes to be able to put pancakes on the breakfast table -- from harvesting wheat to making the pancakes themselves. It is a great example for showing children that what they eat had a beginning in nature and didn't just pop out of a box purchased in the grocery store. It's a wordless book. As such, you may describe each picture to your child. On re-tellings, your little one will be able to "read" the story to you.
Many other books explain the benefits of plants to people. I have found that children as young as first graders can understand the process through which plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, while people do the opposite. This is an example through which we explain to children the relationship that people have with plants, and how important they are to us.
Planting seeds and watching them grow puts children in touch with a vital force of nature. It is an easy way to give them this connection, and leads to a respect and understanding of the process on which we all depend for food and oxygen.
by Jay Davidson
I was reading a story to my class. It took place in Paris, and the
Eiffel Tower appeared in the background. One of my students surprised me
by knowing the name of the Eiffel Tower, that it was in Paris, that Paris
is in France, and that France is in Europe.
He distinguished himself among his peers, as many of them had no similar
sense of geography.
Parents are in an excellent position to help children become aware of
geography and the terms associated with it. For example:
- When you shop for groceries, look for labels on fruit, vegetables, and
other food items to indicate the country or region of origin.
- Look on the labels in your family's clothing and other household items.
- Talk to your child about your family's country of origin.
- When you hear people speaking other languages, teach your child to be
respectful of this. Most people, if approached in a friendly way, will be
delighted to teach you and your child a few words of their native
- When communicating with family members who live outside your immediate
area, talk with the children about the city, state, or country in which
- Whether your favorite source for news is television, newspaper, radio,
or the Internet, the media is rich with references to other
- Use direction words such as north, south, east, and west to describe
where you are walking or driving. Relate these words to the directions
used on maps. The same principles are involved whether you are using a
road map or atlas.
- Use geography terms with your child. Hundreds of them are attached to
place names. Children who understand common terms such as bay, delta,
foothills, mountain, peninsula, swamp, and woods may enjoy learning less
familiar terms such as continental slope, escarpment, isthmus, shoal, and
veldt. (On my website, I will include more than 200 terms, from alpine
tundra to zone, with this column.)
When your child shows deeper interest, move from the atlas to books that
cover history, language, and customs of other peoples. In so doing, you
will have a child who is well prepared for geographic references wherever
she encounters them.
Use the following as an example of the magnitude of words that are
related to geography.
These geography terms appear on page 111 of Teach Your Children Well:
A Teacher's Advice for Parents, by Jay Davidson.
Visit www.jaydavidson.com for more information about Jay Davidson.