Preschool Explorers Celebrate Spring & Sunshine at Sylvan Gardens

Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos courtesy of HCT volunteer photographer Gerry Beetham

On this gorgeous spring morning, we began our Preschool Explorer Adventure at Sylvan Gardens in Chatham with a stroll down a narrow, winding path. We soon found ourselves surrounded by dark green english ivy, trout lilies blanketing the forest floor, and the biggest, brightest displays of daffodils as tall as our Explorers decorating the woodlands. The air was warm and the breezes were perfumed by the fresh blooms all around. A red-winged blackbird sang out “Konk-A-Ree” from a nearby wetland and my crew of adventurers greeted our feathered friend in return by echoing its call. A canopy of pink swept across the blue sky above as we wandered under a flowering cherry tree.

These youthful and energetic Preschool Explorers were blooming as well alongside the array of spring flowers. Their wondrous and curious spirits were eager to explore and move so we pretended to be bees pollinating all the beautiful flowers. We ran around a small, looped trail making buzzing sounds in between bursts of laughter. Friends climbed on stumps, up and down stairs, and bounded across hillsides. It was so fun to step back and follow the kids’ leads, watching on as they celebrated this glorious day, surrounded by loved ones and the incredible beauty of nature. It was such a gift to witness their curiosity and glee while playing in the great outdoors.

We buzzed back to our reading and art mats to learn about flowers, following today’s theme. I read from Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine, an awesome book with amazing flower facts and the most beautiful watercolor illustrations. I also shared Flowers Are Pretty Weird by Rosemary Mosco and The Life Cycle of a Flower by Bobbie Kalman.

Inspired by our readings and blooming surroundings, we decided it was time for our art project. After each child selected washable markers in a variety of colors, they decorated white, paper coffee filters. Once their designs were complete, I misted the filters with water to allow the colors to disperse and meld. We used clothes pins to hang them to dry on a nearby pine branch.

After learning about a flower’s life cycle and the important role that rain plays in the process, we discussed how water moves through the atmosphere and did a few rounds of our water cycle-themed song and dance from our last adventure at Sylvan Gardens.

Time for a saunter to explore the area while our designs dried. Along the way, we came across blooming mayflowers trailing alongside the path, bright yellow daffodils, and cascading andromeda blossoms. We admired the variety of colors and scents and took time to gently caress petals to appreciate their delicate, soft texture.

After our jaunt we returned to find our art projects had dried and each design looked like a watercolor masterpiece. Each Explorer choose a colorful pipe cleaner to transform the watercolor coffee filter into a beautiful paper flower. Quite delighted with their art, Explorers proudly carried their creations for the rest of our adventure.

Following the main path, we exited the gardens and said our farewells. I’m so grateful for this gorgeous morning with my energic group of youngsters and their wonderful caregivers. I am very much looking forward to another adventure together. Happy Exploring!


Ms. Andrea