Time for Spring Ephemerals!

Ohio Ephemeral Flowers

by Lee Hamzy

Now is the time to hunt Spring Ephemerals. Spring Ephemerals refers to perennial plants that emerge quickly in the spring and die back to their underground parts after a short growth and reproduction phase. In a deciduous forest, like ours, they grow before the trees have their leaves allowing sun to reach the forest floor. This is a very short amount of time, so take advantage of the timing, and head out today and for the next week or so.

Here is an excellent Ohio Spring Wildflowers downloadable field guide from the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Please remember, these flowers only grow once a year. Please stay on the paths while out searching and do not pick them! We want them to be there for many springs to come. Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.

How many can you find?

Here is a list of the ephemerals that we often see here at the Little Schoolhouse in the Woods or in nearby parks. Refer to the field guide for pictures to help identify them. Remember to look at the leaves, several flowers have look a likes. Happy Spring hiking!

Harbinger- of -Spring
Spring Beauty
Blood Root
White Trout Lily
Rue Anemone
Red Trillium
Jacob’s Ladder
Virginia Bluebell
Wild Blue Phlox ( can also come in pink)
Marsh Marigold
Lesser Celandine (highly invasive, not native)
Wood Poppy
Dutchman’s – breeches ( one of Ms. Lee’s favorite 😉 )

A Note from Mr. Jay- Are you interested in a formal lesson plan for grades 1 through 3, but easily adapted for older and younger students? I use Ohio New Learning Standards and the National Geographic Learning Framework to create a formal lesson plan. This is good for any teacher whose administration requires formal lesson plans, or for alternative educators who seek academic language to support their strategies. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I love feedback!

Ephemeral Flower Lesson Plans

Thanks and I hope you enjoy getting outside with your children!

A Fun Activity for Promoting Fine Motor Skills: The Magic Cord

If you would like an activity that is simple, fun and helps promote following instructions and perseverance while developing fine motor skills, try making a Magic Cord with your children!

Magic Cord
Our daughter, Faith, holding a Magic Cord

This activity is excellent for teaching children how to follow instructions and develop their fine motor skills. They must hold on tightly to the ends while they are twisting them together. Watch out! The strings tend to fly out of their fingers as they practice tightly grasping with their fingers while alternating hands. You have to start over, sometimes several times. They also must grasp tightly as they pass it back to the teacher. Don’t get discouraged, but laugh and enjoy the process. Model how much fun it is to try and how the next time, it will be easier. Keep doing it until it is well twisted.

  1. Take three or more pieces of colorful yarn at least 2 feet long, or more, depending on your preference, and tie them together at one end.
  2. Have child hold the knotted end while you hold the loose end.
  3. Have the child begin twisting their ends in one direction. You begin twisting your end in the opposite direction. You can count to 100 or sing a song, but twist it a lot. It will start to fold, so you’ll have to hold on tight and keep it pulled straight while you continue to twist. If you drop it, pick it up and start twisting it again.
  4. Grab the middle of the twisted string and have the child hand you their end. You hold both ends and countdown “3, 2, 1”. Then you let go  of the knotted end while holding onto the loose ends and the knotted end. The yarn twists up into a thicker string. Tie all the loose ends and the knotted end so that it won’t come undone.
  5. Voila! A magic cord! 
The Finished Magic Cord
The Finished Magic Cord

This is a great open-ended object for playing with or makes a cute necklace or bracelet.

NOTE: Actively supervise children so that they aren’t napping with it, putting it around their neck or putting it in their mouth or wrapping it tightly around their extremities.

If you would like a formal lesson plan for your administrators or because you’d like more details, click here: Magic Cord Lesson Plan

The knotted end of the Magic Cord
This is the end of the Magic Cord after you have tied the loose ends together.


Fossil Hunting Lesson Plan (Cincinnati region)

A collection of fossils from a recent creek walk.

I recommend this lesson plan for folks in the Cincinnati region. These fossils are common in the creek beds all around southwest Ohio. In this time of school closures and physical distancing, getting outdoors in nature is the perfect way to beat the house bound blahs! Steer clear of the playgrounds and go out into the woods or creek walk.

Here are some  beautiful natural places in Cincinnati you may want to explore:

  1. Caldwell Preserve
  2. McFarlan Woods in Mt. Airy Forest (scroll down the page to see)
  3. Winton Woods
  4. French Park
  5. LaBoiteaux Woods

I wrote this lesson as part of my National Geographic certification, and I am sharing it here with you. I hope you get outdoors with your child or students and enjoy learning a little bit about the history of this area while doing some hands on, fun, nature-based activities.

Some great places to check out would be:

These three links will take you to some ID sheets to help you sort. Laminate them and reuse them!




This link will take you to the lesson plan. Use this if your administrator requires formal lesson plans or if you just want some additional guidance.

NatGeo Certification Lesson Plan_Fossil Sorting

I hope this helps you find some enriching time with your student and that you stay safe and healthy.