Abel Bernstein, coming up from the back yard. Photo copyright Chris Bernstein.

Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, skunks are prowling — spring is here! With longer and warmer days now upon us, I am enjoying explorations of the outdoors with my almost-four year old son. We don’t need to travel far to see daffodils emerging from the earth, or leaves beginning to form on trees, or worms squiggling around in the mud. While commonplace to me, these are little wonders for a boy who is just beginning to understand the world around him.

In preschool, Abel is learning a lot about springtime, which means I am learning too. So far, my son has taught me how to sing like a titmouse “Peter! Peter! Peter!” and has reminded me how fun it is to imitate a “chicka-dee-dee-dee.” In his classroom, he’s getting to know the lifecycles of caterpillars and butterflies, and closely watching insect larvae to see what happens next. I’m delighted that the natural world plays a significant role in his early education.

I am curious about how young children perceive the seasons. To find out, I sent a request to other parents in my circle: to ask their own kids what spring means to them. I expected some wacky answers, but instead the responses were quite literal and accurate. Here’s a sampling.

The question “What happens in spring?” elicited the following answers.

The robins come out. The leaves come back on the trees.
Audrey Leith, age 3, Marshfield

Birds fly back from the south.
Isabella Leith, age 4, Marshfield

“Flowers pop right up! And everyone goes outside and plays.
Thalia Shanahan, age 4, Whitman

It gets sunny out. There are lots of bugs.
Nora Kelly, 5, Marshfield

The air feels warmer. Snow melts. Flowers come up and they bloom. Trees get green leaves. All kinds of plants grow; even vegetables!
Charlie Simpson, age 6, Marshfield

It gets warmer. There is leaves on the trees. We get to play outside more.
More grass. Sun. More trees. More nice flowers. It doesn’t rain that much.
Corinne Johnson, age 6, Pembroke

Spring turns into flowers. You can plant flowers in the spring. Some stuff grows. Dig a hole for treasure. You can plant a log. The birds eat some food from the bird feeder. The birds fly.
Sam Horton, age 5, Marshfield

Flowers grow, it rains a lot and the sun comes up.
Samantha Looney, age 5, Marshfield

Mamma’s Birthday!
Sasha Christensen, age 4, Hanover

Rex tracks mud in from the yard and it makes you mad.
Sydney Christensen, age 6, Hanover

Lawn mower.
Savannah Brangan, age 2, Middleboro

Nathan Looney, age 3, of Marshfield, just tried to spell it: “s . . . b . . . r . . .g.”

I also posed the question “What do you like about spring?” Here are some of the replies.

April vacation! And it’s much warmer and the Red Sox start playing again. The days are longer so I can play outside later!
Ben Baker, age 8, Duxbury

We can wear short sleeve shirts and flip-flops
Isabella (4) & Audrey (3) Leith, Marshfield

That you get to swim and I love to swim but I can’t swim . . . but I can swim with swimmies.
Nora Kelly, 5, Marshfield

It gets warm and it’s nice out. And I like leaves. I like big trees. I like to play on the swings because it’s so warm out.
Corinne Johnson, age 6, Pembroke

I like that flowers grow. Some of my friends picked dandelions yesterday and me & my friend discovered them. They had stems.
Samantha Looney, age 5, Marshfield

Want to learn about the natural world with your own children — or grandchildren? You don’t need a glamorous destination or any elaborate equipment. Start by stepping outdoors and simply see what there is to see. Notice the trees, the birds, the bugs, the flowers. So much of our surroundings go unnoticed, especially by adults, because we’re accustomed to them. But to children, the world is still new. For a refreshing perspective, try regarding the world around you through a child’s eyes.

By Kezia Bacon-Bernstein
April 2010

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit To browse 13 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit