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March 18, 2022
Environment

Springtime in the DC Area

Ah, March in the DC area. Time to experience a magnificent mix of different kinds of weather. The temperature may be in the 70s one day and snowing the next! How fortunate we are to live in a place where we get to experience these fluctuations in seasons and weather. They make life interesting for grown-ups getting dressed for the day and for children to experience the changes in short periods of time.

These short-lived weather periods are a perfect opportunity to help children observe meteorological differences and begin to understand the transition between seasons. When the weather is warm, flowers begin to bloom, trees may start to show signs of new leaves, and our wild animal friends may start to make more appearances. If the temperatures drop and we are lucky enough to witness snow, we get to see the way snow looks on flowers, the effects of ice on new plant buds, and the beauty of icicles. As the weather warms a day or two later, we see the rapid effect of warm weather on those icicles and piles of snow.

To reinforce the observations made outside, we can read books about weather, the seasons, and different climates. Visit the library for stories about the changes that happen in the spring so your child can be on the lookout for those things on walks or trips to the park. Even on short car rides, we can see the transformations happening all around us. Pay attention to both the gradual and sudden changes in your surroundings, including the smells and sounds alongside the sights. If the weather report alerts you to some upcoming drastic weather changes, consider taking some photos of familiar spots in your favorite park and then returning to see the same spot under different weather conditions.

Consult the weather forecast with your child. You can ask your smart speaker or look at a forecast that uses icons online or in a newspaper. Discuss the meanings of the symbols like sun, snowflakes, and clouds. Talk about the numerical temperature. Giving this specific information helps children orient themselves on the temperature scale. Temperature is a way we can experience numbers. We can look at an outdoor thermometer and see that it says 37 degrees Fahrenheit and talk about how we experience that – the feeling of cold, the need for coats, and maybe even seeing our breath. When we go inside, we can look at the thermostat and see that it’s 71 degrees and consider how differently we feel. 

It may feel a bit foreign to embrace the wild weather patterns we experience here in DC. As adults, unexpected snowfall or sudden downpours are the sorts of experiences that cause aggravation. But reframing these experiences as exciting opportunities to see the difference a few hours can make is a great way to instill in your child a love and curiosity about the natural world. As you observe nature around us to share with your child, you may find yourself taking notice of the wonders of the natural world even when your child isn’t with you. Maybe it’ll even change your mind about whether the weather is ever really “bad.”

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