With your garden filled with spring flowers most of which have grown from bulbs, it’s a fantastic time to look at these and the garden as it awakens in spring a little bit closer. Following on from our Spring Art with Toddlers and Preschoolers this is an activity that builds on similar skills but introduced more science. Pick which aspects you want to teach your kids and focus on exploring bulbs and the flowers they produce with this Spring Bulb Nature Study activity.

Spring bulb plant investigation and nature study for kids inspired by Up in the Garden down in the dirt

Spring Bulb Nature Study

We have included links to the books and materials we used for this nature activity with the kids. If you purchase via our links we may earn a small commission.

Before doing this activity as a family we picked up the book Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and read through it.

I only recently discovered the author and love the books which focus on nature and exploring what happens in a habitat. This one focuses on a year in the garden with each alternative page spreads focusing on above and below the ground. It introduces what animals appear throughout the seasons and although there is an American focus to the animals (not many Skunks in the UK!) we were able to think of animals that would take their place in the ecosystems at home.

Exploring Bulbs – Dissection and Nature Journal Drawings

If you have a budding botanist or biologist in your home as we do then one of the biggest skills I can pass on is the need to make observational drawings. I hadn’t realised how much art was involved in following a zoology career until I started university. Every dissection had to be recorded with accurate drawings labelled and observational notes made.

I was very glad that growing up my parents had encouraged us to conduct nature studies and now it’s something that I do with my own kids.

Starting nature journalling with preschoolers - a great way to explore the natural world and develop observational skills

From when they preschoolers we did nature journals and always had drawing supplies in our nature kit.

This nature study includes a dissection because not everything that goes on within a plant can be seen from the outside. Because many bulbs have toxic sap on them you can either wear plastic gloves or like we have replace your flowering bulb with an onion as it’s safe to handle and your child to cut.

Materials Needed for Studying Bulbs with Children

Bulb – Onion or other (if you use another make sure that as you touch the bulb you are wearing protective gloves)

Cutting board

Sharp knife

Flower from a bulb we used a tulip

Watercolour Paints

Watercolour paper

Paintbrushes

Sketch and drawing pencils

How to Set up your Bulb Nature Journal Study with you Kids

set up for a nature study investigation looking at bulbs
  1. Start off by setting up your area for dissecting your bulb and recording the observations.
  2. Make drawings of the bulb.child using watercolours to nature journal
  3. As your children draw, point out the roots, where the shoot would come from. You may want to explain the functions of the roots and look in more detail at them.
  4. Next, draw the flower. child using watercolours to nature journal
  5. After both have been recorded.
  6. Cut up the bulb in half. dissecting a bulb to see inside for nature study with kids
  7. Draw the half a bulb.child producing drawings of bulb in science activity for homeschool
  8. Next, chop off the flower and cut along and open up.dissecting spring flowers from bulb for nature study
  9. Again explore what the functions of the different parts of the flower are.Child pointing out parts of a flowering plant
  10. Then draw this as well.
tulip showing the parts of the plant

My kids wanted to look at the stem and see the “water” inside as they knew from our celery experiment that the water was drawn up so they expected there to be visible water inside the stems.

They were quite surprised that it was empty and after looking with a magnifying glass we could see some of the vessels that draw the water up from the roots.

simple nature study activity for kids

More Activities To Do Inspired by Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt

If you read this book as part of your nature study with your kids then we have a few more ideas that would work as well as our Bulb Dissection and Nature Journal here.

A simple how to make wormery from a plastic drinks bottle to help children understand what worms do. Ideal for home or classroom to explore habitats.

Looking at what happens under the soil can be difficult but we have a simple to make Wormery that let your children observe what happens under the soil and the function of the humble earthworm.

bean growing experiment

Grow beans in a jar and look at roots and shoots in more detail this is an ideal experiment to do with kids to see what happens with seeds under the ground when they start to grow.

Tips on growing garden salads with kids to eat. From successful planting of seeds to top tips on the varieties to grow that kids will enjoy.

It doesn’t matter if you have a lot or a little space you can grow a salad with your kids easily and then enjoy the eating of the salad leaves as well.

Stone Plant Markers to make with kids

If you are growing with your kids this year then why not make some stone markers for your plants they are easy to make and we still have our stones 6 years later and reuse them each year to mark our vegetables out.

Explore different soil samples to discover the rocks, sediments and natural materials that make it up with this simple earth science experiment for kids ideal for Key Stage 2 Rock Science Units.

Getting down in the dirt you can find a lot about the type of environment it is. Have a look at our Soil Science for Kids where we walk you through how to explore soils with your kids a great activity to do whilst you read Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner.

Storybook Science

Storybook Science - science experiments for kids inspired by children's books

If you are looking for more ways to connect books with science then check out Storybook Science. This is our 4th year of joining in with this fun series run by Trisha over on Inspiration Laboratories.

Each week for 4 weeks there is a science topic focus and websites and blogs run by teachers and parents around the world join in sharing a book and a science activity inspired by the book.

See these other plant science activities from the Storybook Science Series

Spring nature study for kids inspired by the book Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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