Spring Cycles March 09 2010

Spring is a time for studying the cycle of life. There are many ways to study these cycles in nature, and once you begin to observe them, you'll notice more and more the cycles prevalent in the world around us.

Use the following classroom activities to lead your kids in the observation and study of nature's cycles.

Reading and Writing Activities

Using a beautifully illustrated printout for your students, Carol's Hopping Into Writer's Workshop post contains a great lesson plan for studying the life cycle of a frog. To go along with it, Carol's also created a Frog Race Life Cycle game.

Spring Into Poetry is a collection of poems along with reading and writing activities that focus on Spring's place in the cycle of the seasons. Included in these poems are references to the plant cycle of growth, which includes the seed, sprout, seedling, plant, flower and fruit. Use some of these poems with the "Grow Your Own" activities below to reinforce the life cycle of a plant.

Grow Your Own

The best way to illustrate the life cycle of plants is to grow some. Space Saving Sprouting is an article packed with tips for growing plants with your students, even if you're short on space. If you want to extend the study of plant growth, use  The Plant Race science lesson plan to study how organic material aids plant development.

Study The Water Cycle

The process of condensation, precipitation and evaporation is a cycle we can study all year round. For a simple object lesson about the water cycle, put 1/2 cup of water in a sandwich-sized plastic bag and seal. Hang it on a classroom window secured with tape, and ask your students what they think will happen to the water. Write their predictions on a piece of  chart paper.

After a few hours, direct your students' attention to the bag and write down their observations, which could include whether or not there's less water in the bag than before. Have your students predict what will happen when you hold ice against the top of the bag, writing down their predictions. Then demonstrate and discuss, again writing their observations.

Ask your students how their observations compare with their predictions. Using the water in the bag, explain how the sun warmed the water so that it evaporated into a gas state, moving up into the atmosphere (or bag) where the air is colder. Once it gets up their, the gas state cools and the water condenses into clouds (these are the drops on the sides of the bag). When the clouds get heavy (the ice), rain falls from the sky like the liquid falls from the ice cube in the form of precipitation.

To bring the lesson to an end, have students demonstrate their understanding of the terms evaporation, condensation and precipitation by using the Predict, Define, and Sketch chart, using the Predict column for students to write their version of the definiton of each word and the Define column to write the dictionary definition.

Another great lesson plan to use with students is Carol's Water Cycle Lesson Plan, Poster and Science Experiment, which will build on the above activity while giving your students another way to study the Water Cycle.

A Teeny Tiny Life Cycle Science Project

Although unintended around your kitchen's fruit bowl, Fruit Flies are an easy way to study a life cycle in your classroom. You can do this activity in partners or small groups, or you may just want to stick with a couple of jars for your whole class to observe.

Before you begin, consider having your students fill out the The Fruit Flies Observation Chart. As part of the Procedure, have your students place pieces of ripe fruit into two open glass jars. Place one jar outside and one in a science center or another special spot in your classroom. Ask children to predict and observe which jar will attract the most flies. Once tiny fruit flies have appeared, cover the jars with cheesecloth and watch closely with your students. The eggs left by the flies will mature and hatch into new young flies and then grow into mature flies, thus completing their life cycle.

Take advantage of the natural Spring Cycles to study this aspect of nature with your students, and celebrate Spring in the process!