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Amazing April
By Sandy Fleming

Ah, April! The air is fresh, and everyone is dying to get outdoors. Whether or not Mother Nature cooperates, there are loads of exciting things to celebrate and try out during this wonderful month. You can begin by celebrating Humor Month. Gather up joke and riddle books from your local library and give your beginning readers a treat. Few things are as fun to read as riddles and jokes, and you¹ll find that even reluctant readers will be drawn to them. Try having a pun contest. Puns are jokes that rely on words that sound similar or that are used in unusual ways. The worst pun can earn the Two-Thirds Prize: two-thirds of a pun is "P.U."!

Another brand of humor to explore is the limerick. These funny little poems have a special rhyming pattern and are invariably silly. See if your kids can create a few limericks of their own after you enjoy some famous ones together. What a perfect set of activities to introduce on April Fool¹s Day!

On April 2nd, you can celebrate the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson. Have a fairy tale festival and delight in some of his many children¹s stories. Can you find any new and unusual ones to share? There are a number of less-famous tales that you can find in collections of his work.

The North Pole was discovered on April 6th. Have a pretend polar expedition to commemorate this event. Set up base camp by putting blankets over tables or chairs to make tents, have a picnic in or nearby, and have an iceberg relay race. Use old newspapers for icebergs. Give each child two pieces of newspaper. Have them try to go from one side of the room to the other by stepping on an iceberg, moving the other piece of paper, then standing on it while the first sheet is moved to the front. Find out about arctic animals with books and encyclopedias, and use references to discover who first found the North Pole and when. Make a picture of a fantasy North Pole to show Santa¹s famous home. If there was an East Pole, what would it be like?

April 4-10 is the Week of the Ocean. Make a super underwater art project by drawing on white or light blue paper with crayons, then painting blue water color or thin tempera all over the picture. The paint will not stick to the crayon marks and will create a wonderful submerged effect. Try choosing an underwater creature to feature each day. Get pictures and information for the kids to discover and try moving like that animal. Sometimes it is fun to design your own animal or write an adventure story about the murky depths. Try this watery game with larger groups: Divide the children into groups of three or more. Make a chalk mark or other home base for all groups except for one. Give each group an ocean creature name. One child is "it." That child calls different creatures to leave their homes and swim in the ocean. When "it" calls "The ocean is stormy," all of the others leave their bases and try to take their group to a new base. Anyone caught joins "it" as a

Don¹t forget to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. Find some way to do a good deed for the environment. Perhaps you could take a walk to pick up trash, or inspect the home or building to find things that are wasting resources, such as drippy faucets or drafty windows.

April 26-30 is Playground Safety Week. This is a great time to shake off the winter doldrums with a trip to the local playground. Make sure to discuss the playground safety rules, like using equipment properly, taking turns, watching for moving equipment such as swings, and so forth. You may even want to have the children inspect their playground for damage, holes, uneven surfaces, or other hazards. If the weather won¹t cooperate (or even if it does!), try making safety posters and see if your local school, church, or library will allow you to display them for a time.

Sandy Fleming is an educator, author and workshop facilitator. She resides in southern Michigan with her husband and three daughters. Sandy leads workshops for daycare providers and parents in the region, tutors students, volunteers for Girl Scouts and her church, and teaches online classes for adults and children. She loves to make new friends, so please drop her an e-mail at


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