Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Signs of Spring!

The change from winter to spring is one of our favorite times of year! As nature lovers, we have missed seeing the plants and the critters moving around.

Tiny details can be a clue that spring is coming — even if it’s still cold!

Maple buds beginning to swell and open.
Tree buds swell (get bigger) in spring

, getting ready to send out leaves. Left: Closed red maple bud. Right: Swollen maple bud. Photo: USA-NPN

Activity: Finding signs of spring

Darcy talks about why we use all 5 senses when we are outside. Finding plants and animals outside may seem simple, but you’d be surprised what people miss!

You will need:

  • Paper/pencil or a camera
  • A yard or outdoor area

What to do:

Go on a hunt for the following things! When you find something, draw it, write it down, or take a picture (whatever works for you).


Can you find something that matches each of these three shades?


  • Three different shades of green
  • As many different flowers in bloom as you can
  • A bud that isn’t open yet
  • Something that has camouflaged itself (made itself the same color as things around it, so that it’s hard to see)


  • How many things can you hear while sitting in nature? 
Zella, a 1st grader at Nelsonville-York, shares everything she can hear in nature.
Some plants are very soft. This plant is called Lamb’s Ear. Can you guess why?


  • Something smooth
  • Something fuzzy


  • Some leaves have different smells when you crush them, like onion grass. Can you find an interesting smell?

Anything else?

  • What unique things can YOU find?

Don’t taste anything, because some things are not safe to eat. We will talk how to safely eat wild plants in another lesson.


  1. Look for the items above
  2. Draw, write, or take photos of what you find
  3. Post some of your pictures in the comment section below to share! *

(*if you prefer not to use the comment section, email your photos to, and we can share them in a later post).

By Darcy Higgins

Environmental Education Program Manager, Rural Action

22 replies on “Signs of Spring!”

This plant is young and fragile. We found it in a watery place. Its called horsetail. This is its flower!

Thank you for sharing, Juni! What a cool find. I love horsetail because it is an ancient plant known as a “living fossil,” and makes spores like a mushroom. I’ve never seen one that is quite those colors before!

These ants are camouflage because that blend in with their habitat! This ant hill has been here for at least 12 years! It is very big and is still growing!

oooh, this is interesting to me, because while I was looking for a spot to make this video, I found what I think is the biggest ant hill I’ve ever seen in Ohio! It seemed like it might be the size of a soccer ball. I will have to take a picture of it to share.

I also didn’t know that ant hills lasted in the same place for a long time. Thanks for teaching me something.

Juni and Darcy,

There is an ant hill on my property that has been here since I was a kid (probably at least 20+ years)!! No joke…I will send a picture. For now, here is a picture of an unfurling Poplar bud.

Love this blog and am excited to participate with Annabelle (4). Getting outside in nature has really been our source of grounding and sanity during this crisis.

Thanks Darcy 🙂

That is so cool! I am so happy that you are joining in, Carrie! Hopefully the activities will work for little Annabelle.

Looks delicious! I will have to get out and look for some myself. Are you going to eat it?

We are officially calling ourselves the South Jersey Chapter of the Young Naturalists Club 🙂 Max Lattimore White is 10, Cedar Lattimore White is 3, and Isabel Miller is 11. Here are the signs of Spring we’ve seen in Cape May Court House this week!

The Southeast Ohio Young Naturalists are honored to have South Jersey Chapter! Thank you for sharing your awesome finds.

This must be the first time that Isabel’s hair has served as camouflage.

It is tricky to identify a bird egg just by the shell, if you haven’t also seen the nest or the bird! It looks like it was from a bird at least as big as a robin, though (maybe even a mourning dove). Have you seen any birds regularly near where you found the egg?

Here is a baby bird egg– we can’t tell what kind, we know not a robin because it is just a plain white shell.

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