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Spring Into May

Spring Into May
Sherry Jennings

This year the last nor'easter occurred in the first week in April, dampening the spirits of those who were sure that those mid-March 50-60° days were the beginning of "real spring." Now it seems "real spring" is here. Though the daffodils were bent flat under a foot of snow, they managed to pick themselves up and trumpet forth the glory of April early mornings. Forsythia is spraying yellow across the edges of lawns, and magnolias, flowering quince, and apple trees are beginning to show hints of color. Meanwhile, the air is filled with birdsong — the clear call of the cardinal, the cheery "Good Morning" of the robin, and the insistent caw of the crow.

In the meadows, the lambs have raced out of the barns where they were born. The foals are chasing one another around the pastures. Bees are buzzing in the warm sunshine and yes, the ants have started to appear in the kitchen. After the stillness of winter, across the land in New England the world of nature is in movement. Even the rocks and mud are sliding along in the rushing streams.

After the constraints of freezing winds and innumerable layers of winter gear, the children too are ready to be set free — to get into motion. They are longing to stomp through puddles, reshape the course of any flowing water whether it be rushing stream or tiny rivulet. Oh, how joyful to drag a stick through a mud puddle and watch the swirls and spirals appear! Or later, take that same stick and drag away the leaves in the roadside swale to set the water free! Maybe later in the day it’s a turn on a swing or simply running around the yard picking dandelions.

Your toddlers too want to be free to move. Whatever movements entice your children — as long as they are safe — set them free to explore. They will not only drink in the natural world with all their senses, the physical activities will contribute to building strong bodies and prepare them for academic learning. Your task is to encourage the natural movements — running, jumping, hopping, balancing, twirling, swinging. If your children are reticent about engaging in physical activities, turn outside time into a game you can also enjoy — become hopping bunnies, racing squirrels, and galloping ponies with them. Later plant some radishes, pansies in a pot or window box, or string beans to later dry and shell. You are only limited by your imagination and your love of play.

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