Do You Define Spring?
"One swallow does not make spring, nor does one
Sample Spring Survey
Results of Spring Survey: Blank
Form and Sample
Pencil & clipboards or cardboard to lean on
think about the signs that tell them spring has arrived in their region.
Next, they survey others, organize their data, and try to interpet it.
According to the calendar, the Spring Equinox in this hemisphere marks
the first day of spring — the day in March when the most direct
rays of the sun are above the equator. After that, they appear to head
north. On that day, daytime and nighttime hours are about equal everywhere
on earth. (Equinox means "equal nights.")
But people tend to have very different ideas about spring. Some say it's
"spring" when the dogwoods bloom or first robin appears, or
when they can finally go outside without a jacket. Of course, ideas about
spring's arrival are also influenced by where we live.
Laying the Groundwork
- Ask, What
signs tell you when spring has arrived? What do you see, hear, smell,
feel, and do? Have partners write or draw responses and then exchange
- Each pair
can contribute items to a Signs of Spring list on the board
or chart paper. Ask students to try to put a general date or month when
the event happened or usually happens.
- Ask the
class to group the answers into categories as they see fit. They might,
for instance, suggest plant signs, animal signs, calendar events,
and human activities.
- At this
point, you can go on to discuss patterns students notice (see Making
Connections, below), or challenge the class to conduct a survey to find
out how other people define spring's onset.
can design their own survey questions or use the sample
form. Ask, What kinds of data or information shall we gather?
How should we word our questions? (Encourage them to routinely
ask interviewees the approximate dates at which their selected signs
of spring occur.)
- Ask, How
should we go about gathering our information? Who should we interview?
Discuss the interview plan and survey techniques. For instance, Will
you ask open-ended questions or give people items to choose from? How
will you record answers? How will you avoid influencing people's responses
(e.g., don't ask leading questions or suggest answers).
- Pair students
up to practice survey techniques. Get back together and refine your
survey questions and form, if necessary.
can work individually or in pairs to interview families, neighbors,
friends, and students and teachers in other classrooms. Remind them
that the more data they collect, the more reliable it will be.
- Have students
compile and organize all the data they collected. They might, for instance,
tabulate the most frequent responses by age or geographic location,
average dates for each event, and so on.
Connections — Discussion and Journaling Questions
- How does
the definition of spring vary from person to person? From region to
- What was
the most frequently mentioned sign of spring in your region? Why do
you think so many people notice that one?
signs of spring do you think occur at about the same time each year
regardless of weather? For which events does the date vary from year
students to arrange the "signs of spring" for a region in chronological
order as defined by interviewees. You might also list them on a calendar.
- What patterns
do you notice?
- What general
statements can you make based on your survey?
- In what
general sequence does spring seem to unfold (i.e., Which types of activities
Discuss whether and how items near the beginning of the list (e.g.,
longer days) affect items lower on the list. Help students identify
how the chain of seasonal events unfold beginning with an increase in
and compare your results with a partner class in a different geographic
region. Go to our Maps page and
click on any map. Click on the map's "i" tool and then on
any dot (report). From there, you can read about and e-mail the observer.
- Save the
surveys. At the end of the school year, have students respond again
to see how their views have expanded and changed.
that students' statements and conclusions are based on evidence from
students to try to write a definition of spring for a dictionary.