Just this past weekend I was helping my family cut down old bushes and trimming the trees in our backyard. It was a beautiful day! Lots of sunshine and warm temperatures-the perfect weather for gardening! It felt like spring had finally arrived after a week of colder temperatures and foggy, misty mornings. Dismal weather during a difficult time in our country the last couple of months due to the coronavirus pandemic is not fun. So, it felt wonderful to be able to do something so “normal” like gardening in my backyard instead of being cooped up in the house.

A lot of us are cooped up in our houses right now. Especially our children. Fear not, there are still a lot of fun things kids can do inside their house or in their backyard or garages with their parents or grandparents. Did you know that the second week of April is “National Garden Week?” Well then, one thing families can do together then is… gardening! Whether it is planting seeds in the ground or in pots or cups, trimming trees and bushes, this can be a fun experience for the whole family! Not just a fun experience, but a learning experience too! Parents can do a lesson with their children on gardening, how plants grow, different types of gardens (try your luck at a pizza garden anyone?). There are many digital resources on gardening on the Internet for parents to use for their children, including KidsGardening.org and HGTV.com’s article, “Mini-Gardening Projects Kids Will Love.” Kids will definitely want to spend more time outside gardening and less time on their tablets once they have tried these fun gardening activities.           

Did you know that April 2 is International Children’s Book Day? International Children’s Book Day was created by the Swiss non-profit organization called the International Board on Books for Young People in 1967. This day encourages a love of reading in your child and promotes a love of books for children. It is the same day as Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. Andersen wrote the classic fairy tales The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen (which the mega-hit movie, Frozen, is based on) and many more!

To celebrate International Children’s Book Day read a couple of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales to your kids. After reading the story, ask your kids what they think the lesson of the story is and why that lesson is important. Next, try a science experiment based off the fairy tales such as The Snow Queen. Have kids try their hand at making their own fake snow or learning why water freezes and so much more! Just google, “how to make fake snow” and you’ll find the perfect recipe for fake snow.

If your child loves the story The Little Mermaid, have them research with you the different sea creatures. Children can learn all about the different marine animals’ habitats, how fast the animals grow, what the animals eat and any special “powers” they might have, i.e. why do octopuses expel ink?

A fun website that children and parents can visit to learn about different sea creatures is the Monterey Aquarium! Besides having articles on the different sea animals, the aquarium’s website (www.montereybagaquarium.org) also has articles on the different sea habitats (such as Kelp forests) and live animal webcams, including one for the shark tank! However, my favorite would have to be the sea otters webcam! Sea otters are some of the cutest animals out there! With those webcams, it’ll be as if you’re at the aquarium! The Monterey Aquarium website also has games and printout activities for kids. Many of the printout activities including arts and crafts activities for the whole family!

If you want to learn more about animals, try visiting the San Diego Zoo’s website (kids.sandiegozoo.org/animals) for kids! Not only does the website give articles on all the different animals at the zoo, but also read-along stories for kids, arts and crafts activities, games, and of course, live animal webcams too! It’ll be just like being there! There are so many resources online for families to use right now to continue your child’s education. Check out the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library’s Facebook page to keep up-to-date on the latest happenings and helpful website links!

Children’s Books on Animals:

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Sharks by Sarah L. Fowler

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators that Saved and Ecosystem by Patricia Newman

African Elephants by Gail Terp

Lion’s Lunch by Fiona Tierney

Kelly Liptak is the Young People’s Department Head at the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library.

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