April 2017 | Nature is starting to wake up all across the state, and one of the first things to appear are flowers. Their colorful appearance is sure to put the spring back in your step. Make sure you get outside and enjoy it!
Our State Flower
South Dakota designated the pasque flower as the official state flower in 1903.
Pasque is a solitary tallgrass prairie flower and grows wild throughout South Dakota. Also called the May Day flower, prairie crocus, wind flower, Easter flower, and meadow anemone, the lovely lavender pasque is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, often before the winter snows have thawed. Pasque flowers were used as a medicine by Native Americans for centuries
Color Changing Flowers
This activity is an amazing visual for kids. It teaches them how a plant absorbs water up its stem and nourishes its petals and leaves. The brightly colored water will transform the white flowers within only a few minutes. It’s amazing and creates a great WOW factor for kids.
- White flowers (chrysanthemums, roses or daisies work well)
- Small containers, jars or vases
- Food coloring
Add 1/2 cup of clean water and 10 drops of food coloring to each of the jars. Mix two colors to create secondary colors. Cut the stem of the flowers so are about 6 inches of stem remaining. Remove leaves from the stem as they can go moldy quickly in the water. Place one flower in each of the jars. Set your jars in a safe location that will give them some lovely natural sunlight. Every three days, snip off a bit of the end of the stem, which keeps the flower fresh and absorbing water.
Walking in the rain
April is the time of year when we start to see thunderstorms and rain. They also bring out the colors of spring, such as blue, green, red and yellow. Now is a great time to take a walk with young children and help them to learn to use their senses in the great outdoors.
The Five Senses Walk
- Hearing: What do you hear around you? Birds, cars, buzzing of insects?
- Seeing: What colors do you see around you? How many colors can you find?
- Tasting: What does a strawberry taste like – is it sweet or sour?
- Touching: Find something soft, scratchy, hard.
- Smelling: What does a flower smell like? How about dirt or grass?
The sitting game
Just sitting is so hard for many small children. I don’t think mine ever sat still until they went to school - and even now I question it. But you can make quite time into a game.
Have your kids lay down on the cool green grass in your yard. Tell them to pretend they are hiding from others around them. Give them five minutes to just listen and look around them but to also be quiet so that animals and birds will come by to see them. When the five minutes is up, talk about what they heard. This activity works particularly well in view of a bird feeder, where kids can observe birds eating and flitting back and forth.
Hummus flower snack
Place hummus (or any kind of dip) into a round container. Place cut up carrot sticks or baby carrots around the container like petals on a flower. Use celery to create the stem and leaves. This pretty presentation will have them gobbling the goodies up!
Cut celery stalks in thirds, and then cut them into thin pieces to create flower stems. Cut white and yellow cheese slices into different shaped flower heads, such as roses and tulips. Protect tiny fingers by allowing your child to use a cookie cutter to create petals for each delicious flower. Place the flower heads on top of the ends of the celery stick stems. Serve alongside a fresh pitcher of lemonade for a tasty, warm-weather snack.
Playing, hiking, and swimming in the sunshine helps your body make Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you fell energized. Always wear sunscreen, and make sure you keep playing outside no matter the season.
This month's activities brought to you by
Lynn Spomer, Pierre Central Office
Lynn heads up the visitor services department for the South Dakota State Parks, which means her primary goals is to make the parks fun and inviting for visitors. In her spare time, she works on the family farm, where they are just starting calving season. No matter how busy it gets, she and her three girls always make time to notice the wonders of nature all around them.