Sprout Some Beans

Sprout Some Seeds (5)

Spring is the classic time of year when elementary school kids learn about gardening, parts of the plant, and the process behind sprouting seeds. Although we’ve planted seeds in the past, Travis and I tested out a step-by-step method this year for a scientific spin on the activity.

To start, soak kidney beans in a cup of warm water for about 3 hours. Drain.

Travis selected a few of the beans to place on a wet paper towel. Fold the towel up over the beans, then place inside a zip-top plastic bag and seal. We set this inside a cabinet for 2 days. (Note: Any similar warm dark place will work fine).

Sprout Some Seeds (1)

Two days later, we checked to see if the roots had started to grow.

Sprout Some Seeds (3)

They sure had! Travis was amazed at the curly root we could see coming from each bean.

Sprout Some Seeds (4)

Now, plant the seeds in a bit of dirt with the root pointing down. Set some place sunny and add a little water each day. Then just watch the plants grow!

Sprout Some Seeds (6)

In addition to the hands-on portion of the activity, I had Travis write down a few things about the experiment, to work on conceptual knowledge. First, he listed all the supplies that were needed. His list included:



Paper Towel

Plastic Bag

He also answered conceptual questions, like what happened after each consecutive step, or his observations at the end. A perfect project for a budding (ha) scientist.

Springtime Coffee Filter Art


With some leftover coffee filters in our craft bin, Veronika was able to make two lovely crafts today, both of which felt just right for springtime!

The first was a riff on classic butterfly art. Big brother Travis recently made a version involving lots of fine motor skills… All well and good for big kids, but I kept this toddler version simpler. First, Veronika covered the white filters with dot markers. Dot dot dot!

Once they were mostly covered, I handed over a spritz bottle for her favorite part. Veronika loved spritzing and watching the colors run together. Make sure to saturate completely, then set aside to dry.

Meanwhile, we painted old-fashioned clothespins for the butterfly bodies. I thought purple and yellow would be nice springtime colors, but hadn’t bargained on her mixing them together. The color ended up a bit muddied, as a result, but they were still pretty. Set those aside to dry as well.

To assemble, carefully slide a coffee filter onto each clothespin, scrunching as you go, then fan out the wings. What a pretty flutter of butterflies!

The second project was a bit more involved: coffee filter flowers! This time, we started with spin art, an old favorite. Place one filter in the bottom of a salad spinner and dribble a little paint on with a plastic spoon. We used a mix of purple, pink, and red paints.

Close the lid and let the spinner spin! Veronika loved being charge of making the spinner go and then stop with the brake button.

Lift up for the lovely reveal! We repeated to make four flowers, then set these aside to dry.

To help mold them into the shape of flower petals, we used this neat trick from Hands on as We Grow: press each filter over an empty soda can, then spray with liquid starch. Although not an item I’d normally use for a craft, it worked quite nicely.

Let dry, then glue down onto a construction paper background. We painted craft sticks green for flower stems and added a few green button leaves and a pom pom in the center of each.

April showers brought May flowers!

Building a Bird’s Nest

This beautiful activity can help toddlers (or older kids!) engage with nature in springtime, in particular the way birds build their nests. After gathering nature treasures, seal the whole “nest” together with mud, talking all the while about the amazing way birds construct their homes with just beaks and feet…no thumbs!

Of course first up is the chance for a nature walk, collecting items that a bird might use for a nest like twigs, grasses, and flower stems. Once home, we arranged all these in a couple of shallow cardboard boxes.

I told Veronika that birds also used mud for the walls of their nests, to hold everything together, and that now it was her turn to make mud! You can use dirt from the yard, but we actually used potting soil mixed with water until it was nice a goopy. Veronika loved stirring with a stick!

We poured the mud all along our sticks and flowers, resulting in beautiful little nests.

It turns out these nests didn’t just stay for the birds! It wasn’t long before Legos and other toys were playing in their springtime nests, too.

Cardboard Flower Prints

Don’t toss those latest bxoes from Amazon just yet! Flaps of corrugated cardboard curl up to make a print that looks just like a flower, letting even a toddler paint a full spring bouquet or garden! This trick from The Toddler’s Busy Book is so simple to put together, with lovely results.

To start, cut flaps from boxes that are ideally about 10 inches long by 6 inches tall. Rip the cardboard slightly to reveal the corrugated ribs inside, if needed. Don’t worry if it isn’t exact; as long as the corrugated groves are evident along the 10-inch edge, the project will work.

Roll up tightly and secure with a rubber band. You can see already how the cardboard is now the shape of a pretty rose!

I set out paint for Veronika in red and purple, and then showed her how to dip the rolled edge of the cardboard in the paint before pressing onto construction paper.

“Flowers!” she said with such delight. She experimented with one color or mixing them, and soon had a field of blossoms.

Once the paint dried, I connected them together with green marker for flower stems, and she was so proud to see the garden take shape up on our fridge.


Sparkly Spring Tree

Our neighborhood is resplendent right now with the pink trees of spring, dogwoods and magnolias in full bloom. Veronika and I came home from a walk to make our own, thanks to this idea originally spotted at Hands on as We Grow.

First, I drew a brown tree trunk on white paper. Alternatively, you could cut the trunk from brown construction paper and glue down.

Next, Veronika helped tear pieces of pink construction paper to the flower blossoms. You can encourage preschoolers to cut these out with safety scissors, too!

She loved being in charge of the glue for the next step; everywhere she dotted down, we placed a pink “flower”.

We then added a few strands of pink thread for additional flowers.

Of course what’s a spring tree without some glitter? Add a little glue and tap glitter onto it (or in Veronika’s case, dump glitter onto it), then shake off the excess and let dry.

This tree was definitely blooming!

Colorful Butterflies

We spotted our first butterlfy of spring today, a lovely white one fluttering by! It felt only right to celebrate with a little butterfly craft. This was a riff on coffee filter butterflies, and was great for helping Travis hone some skills from art class this year.

First, I challenged him to cut out an oval. He decided it would be best to draw it first, then cut.

I made a few additional ovals so everyone could paint one with watercolor.

Little sister included!

Once the butterflies were dry, I showed Travis how to fold them accordion-style, back and forth until pleated.

Finally, we wrapped shiny pipe cleaners around the middle of each one as the bodies, leaving the tips sticking up for two antennae on each.

Fan out the wings, then add string or ribbon and let your butterflies flutter in a pretty window. Fun fact: tell your child that a group of butterflies is actually called a flutter, and see if they can guess why!

Eraser Stamped Sheep

We recently re-read a favorite picture book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, which had us thinking about other ways to make art from just dots. This sweet craft is easy enough for toddlers to follow along, and felt just right for springtime and baby lamb season!

To start, I set out a plate of white paint, along with a few sheets of construction paper and pencils. I handed Veronika one of the pencils and showed her how to dip just the eraser end in the paint, then dot on the paper.

White dots!

Veronika had fun simply experimenting at first, but then I showed her that if she clustered a few of those white dots together, it began to look like a woolly sheep. She loved seeing the little animals take form.

Of course she couldn’t control her dots exactly, which I wouldn’t have expected from a two year old. Anywhere that gaps needed filling, I added a few extra dots to make the sheep. That meant sometimes we had big mommy sheep, and sometimes baby lambs.

Once the glue dries, just add an eye and four legs for each sheep with black marker.

We loved the ways these looked once we cut them out in individual circles, resulting in a whole little flock.

Paper Plate Sheep Mask

Veronika recently made a woolly sheep from cotton balls, to celebrate March “going out like a lamb”. She loved the fluffy cotton balls so much that we followed up with another sheep craft today. This time, she got to be the sheep at the end!

To start, I cut the center from a paper plate and then added lots of glue around the rim. Veronika immediately began to place cotton balls all over the glue, and loved playing with extras, too!

We let the mask dry, then I cut two ears from sturdy white paper and attached with tape.

Baa baa,” said my little sheep. If you’re able, follow up with a visit to a local farm to see spring’s lambs!

Bunny Tail Pom Pom Painting

Bunnies have those adorable cotton ball tails that kids just love. Today, we painted with the “tails” to make the rest of the bunny, thanks to this cute idea from The House of Burke.

To start, I clipped a few small clothespins onto white pom poms, and set these out for Veronika, along with a plate of black paint. For preschoolers, challenge them to hone their fine motor skills and get the clothespins onto the pom poms solo.

For Veronika, the activity was more about the fun of dipping the “bunny tail” in the paint and dotting onto thick white paper. She also liked dotting two “tails” together!

Little did she know that there was a surprise in store for her once the paper was painted; we were about to turn it into a full bunny head! Let the paint dry, then cut out shapes for the bunny’s head and ears, and glue these down on a construction paper background.

A final pom pom makes the bunny’s nose. Glue down wiggle eyes and add a few details with marker, and this bunny is ready to hop into spring!

Spring Flower Bouquet

Veronika loved pretend flower play to greet the spring a few days ago. Today, she got to craft her own flowers instead! As with the previous project, this is a great way to invite spring into your house as you wait for real flowers to be in full bloom.

And all you need is pretty cupcake liners and pipe cleaners! Pastel shades like pink or lavender would be great for “blossoms”, but I happened to have Easter-themed cupcake liners. That meant our final product will work well as an “Easter Bouquet”, too, to set as a table centerpiece.

To make each flower, poke a hole in the center of each cupcake liner with a pencil. Insert a green pipe cleaner and bend slightly to secure it in place.

If you want to make your flowers sparkly, squirt a little white glue on them first and liberally sprinkle on glitter. Veronika chose purple for this step, which was definitely her favorite part!

Once the glue dried, we gathered the flowers together into a bouquet, twisting the pipe cleaner stems together and securing with a yellow ribbon.