Preschool Explorers Celebrate Spring at the Lee Baldwin Memorial Woodlands

Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos courtesy of HCT Volunteer Photographer Gerry Beetham

Preschool Explorers and their caregivers gathered for the first day of Spring at the Lee Baldwin Memorial Woodlands under the bluest of skies. Bundled up in cozy gear we gathered at the start of the boardwalk leading towards the red maple/Atlantic white cedar swamp to review our plans for the day.

Tiny feet pitter pattered down the boardwalk toward the bench for our first story of the morning: Spring Sings for the Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. This book celebrates the joys of spring as animals play outside, the flowers begin to bloom, and everyone is joyous (even the Grouchy Ladybug). Carle’s signature bright collage illustrations feature leaping frogs, buzzing bees, friendly turtles, singing birds, dancing butterflies, and more springtime scenes.

This story was a sweet segue into a conversation about the signs of spring: singing birds, blooming flowers, the return of the river herring, peepers peeping, and the home-coming of our local osprey. We practiced singing the osprey’s signature high pitched “peep peep peep” call and, to our delight, one began circling above us and perched on a nearby pole. Thank you, Mother Nature!

Sauntering down the trails in search of signs of springs, youngsters immediately discovered bright green moss! Mittens were promptly removed so that tiny hands could gently pat and enjoy the soft velvety texture of the ground cover. Additional discoveries included pine cones and acorns, which were added to caregivers’ pockets. Explorers had big plans to gift these treasures to family members, including for an upcoming visit with a Nana and also to be added to a care package for a Daddy serving overseas.

Friends held hands while walking along, admiring the stunning forest all around us and the shimmery waters of a nearby vernal pool. One Explorer wondered why they could not see any frogs so the group decided to call out to our amphibian friends and invite them to make an appearance. No luck, but it sure was adorable to hear children and their parents calling out “ribbit ribbit ribbit” and “peep peep peep.”

Finding a spot kissed by the sun and tucked out of the wind, we settled on our mat to read another story. Hooray for Spring! by Kazuo Iwamura is a precious tale about adorable squirrel siblings exploring the woods and discovering new leaves, cherry blossoms, and hungry baby birds. Our last story of the morning, Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber, is beautifully illustrated and cleverly shares how the main character uses her senses to search for the signs of spring.

Time to create some art together. I handed each child a large piece of recycled brown paper and invited Explorers to draw a tree, with assistance from caregivers. Next, dots of glue were added to branches and colorful tissue paper buds pressed on. Yellow tissue paper created spicebush, forthysia, and witch hazel flowers, white tissue paper created apple blossoms, and pink created cherry blossoms. What beautiful flowering trees our youngsters designed!

We left our masterpieces to dry in the sun as we set off for another adventure. While exploring trails less traveled, we discovered a fallen tree that invited us to play. Each Explorer took a turn (or several) walking across it while focusing on balance and fun! Smiles and giggles erupted as children trekked across nature’s balance beam.

Continuing our journey, we soon stumbled upon another fallen tree, and this time we debated hopping over or crawling under. Some friends sat underneath the tree and pretended it was a shelter or a cozy home in the woods. The path led us to another view of the vernal pool so we admired the shallow waters once more, hoping to see or hear a frog or two.

All this exploration and fun had us feeling blissfully exhausted. Once again gathering on the bench where we began, art projects in hand, I wished everyone farewell and a Happy First Day of Spring. I am so looking forward to our next adventure. 

Happy Exploring.


Ms. Andrea