Let's Talk About: Noticing neighborhood changes

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Late spring and early summer can be a period of rapid transformation for children, especially if they are transitioning from a daily preschool classroom to summer activities and childcare. Other daily routines are changing too -- we're not bundling up for the snow any longer, but now we have to remember our umbrellas. The return of warm weather brings an opportunity for your early learner to observe the changes happening in your neighborhood. Try taking a walk around the block together to see what's new.

By encouraging your preschooler to use his or her five senses while exploring, you are helping to strengthen a crucial skill all scientists must master -- observation. Conversation is also important. As adults talk to children about what they see and hear, they support the acquisition of new vocabulary children can use to express themselves. For example, you might ask your child, "Does the tree bark feel rough or smooth?" You can promote your student's learning by putting your words into context, saying something like, "The sidewalk feels rough on my fingers, like sand, but this blade of grass is smooth and slippery -- my fingers slide right off."

As you walk, your student is sure to find many interesting things to look at. You may want to bring along an empty egg carton to collect small specimens for later observation and comparison. What is visually different about your neighborhood now that winter has ended? Your child may see butterflies, puddles of water or even a bird's nest. What can you notice together with your other senses? You might hear sounds that are absent in winter, such as lawn mowers, rainwater trickling in a gutter or buzzing bumblebees. Maybe you'll find some flowers to smell or pass a neighborhood barbecue.

Many fruits are in season now -- celebrate the taste of spring with a citrusy snack when you return home.

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