Teaching children about seasons

What is summer like in your hometown? If you live in Phoenix, summer means temperatures of 100 degrees or higher before the end of May followed by monsoons, dust storms and other intense weather patterns until late October. But if you live further north in Montana or Wyoming or west in California you would have a very different experience of summer.

While the days get longer and the weather warms up, experiencing seasons varies a great deal depending on where you live. While this seems obvious to adults, kids may struggle to understand the four seasons when they do not experience them in their archetypical form.

For children who rarely travel, the idea of snow and constant rain can be mystery. Because of it's desert landscape and proximity to the equator, Phoenix is said to only experience two seasons: summer and winter. These waterless weather patterns can make teaching about four distinct seasons very difficult.

The change of the seasons is a great learning opportunity for children. While learning about the seasons, kids in Phoenix also get the chance to learn about geography, and why seasons look different here than they do in books and on TV. Here are a few clever ways for us to teach children about the changing seasons in the Phoenix area.

Year-round activities

To measure the gradual transformation between seasons we can start year long projects with children to keep track of the changes. Consider keeping a daily weather journal from January on through the year so you can keep track of the slow rise in temperature and the sunset and sunset times to track the length of the day. You can even play games like guessing when the first 100-degree day will come!

Local Activities and Exploration

Despite the desert climate, there are a number of places to explore around Arizona to help your kids understand the changing of the seasons like the Arizona Science Center.

Spring

Springtime in the desert is just as gorgeous as anywhere else. Rare flowers bloom on cacti and local birds begin to gather. 

To see the desert changes, bring the kids to the Desert Botanical Garden and explore the orange blossoms and other native plants. The garden is filled with colorful plants many non-natives would never dream of seeing, and the kids can spend time in the butterfly exhibit. 

While you’re looking at the flowers, Teach the children about cacti. Cacti will hold the water inside their stems to combat the harsh conditions. This is a great time to explain why the desert has less water than places like Michigan. 

Summer

Arizona in the summer can be a hot subject. When the kids want to go out to play, take them to the pool. Explain to the kids that other cities like Reno have rivers running through town. This is a great way to explain how other cities are built around bodies of water. 

One fun art project is to create melted art masterpieces. While you wait for your crayons to melt in the sun, explain how Phoenix’s closeness to the equator brings the city into the direct line of the sun’s heat. This could help children appreciate just how powerful the sun’s heat is.

Fall

During October, bring the kids to take part of the harvest season at one of the many fall community festivals like the month-long Mortimer Family Farms Pumpkin Fest and Corn Maze. This will teach the children about how different vegetables grow better in certain climates. 

Consider taking a drive up to Flagstaff to see the leaves change colors. A quick road trip is a great way to show the kids that not all of Arizona is a desert. This is a great opportunity to explain the importance of mountains and how they affect the weather. 

Winter

Although states like New York and Wisconsin may be filled with snow during December, kids in Arizona will notice the distinct lack of snow on the ground. We should take advantage of the weather to take the kids on a little hike and explain the difference between areas that experience four seasons while Phoenix only sees two. 

Another great winter activity is visiting the penguins at the Odysea Aquarium. The penguins are a great example of animals that can only live in certain regions based on the weather. This is a great way to teach the kids about the importance of climate. 

No matter where you live, experiencing change in the weather is a wonderful time to learn something new. The weather is a tool to explain to children the environmental importance of diversity. 

Most Family Friendly Restaurants in Phoenix

Photo by Abhishek Vashistha

Photo by Abhishek Vashistha

Nothing says “bonding” like going out to eat and connect with your family, friends, etc. While going to dinner or lunch may be considered a traditionally adult activity, kids enjoy going out to eat, too. It gives them a chance to see parts of their hometown they may never get to see otherwise, and helps them develop an image of their community. It provides a new setting for parents and nannies alike to bond with kids. And, of course, going out to eat is usually pretty fun for all parties involved. 

However, parents and caretakers both struggle to find quality places to eat and explore with children.Taking a child to a normal, “boring” restaurant may seem like a terrible idea for those hoping for an easy lunch or dinner. Luckily, Phoenix is full of family friendly restaurants that are both fun and delicious. 

Culinary Dropout at The Yard

One of Fox’s fastest growing concepts, Culinary Dropout, is a great place to bring the family for sporting events or to meet up with others. While the original Phoenix location is just off of 7th St and Missouri,  the concept has expanded into Tempe. Their menu is centered around a traditional gastropub menu. And to keep the kids - and the adults - entertained, they have ping-pong tables, cornhole boards, and foosball tables out on the spacious, covered patio. 

MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain

Close to Downtown Phoenix is a Coronado neighborhood staple, McAlpine’s. Stepping into this soda-fountain themed restaurant is like stepping into a time machine. The shop is chiefly known for its ice cream, shakes, malts, and sundays, but hamburgers and hotdogs make a menu appearance, too. Sit the kids at the bar and enjoy your tall glass of sweetness before  ending your visit by wandering through the antique shop next door

Sugar Bowl 

Love the soda shop vibe? Don’t forget to check out Sugar Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale. This iconic pink building specializes in the traditional soda-fountain selection of ice creams, burgers, and sandwiches. Don’t miss the chance to share some literary history with the kids by showing them Family Circus comics featured all over the restaurant. Sugar Bowl has gained much of its notoriety from being featured in the newspaper classics. And no kid can resist being happy surrounded by such bright pink decor! 

La Grande Orange

One of the best places to bring the family in Arcadia is La Grande Orange. Located on the corner of 44th Street and  Campbell Ave, LGO is a beloved artisan grocery, complete with a bakery, pizzeria, and agelato shop. While you wait for you food, browse through their eclectic gift shop collections, filled with fun toys and specialty food items. The whole family will love to find their own unique treasures to take home! 

Lou Malnati's

Have you ever heard of a kid turning down pizza? Of course you haven’t - pizza is a natural staple in a child’s diet! But going out for pizza doesn’t have to be a pizza-and-arcade games extravaganza. Instead, take your family to try some of Chicago’s famous deep dishat Lou Malnati’s. Hidden in the corner of the Uptown Plaza, dive into some cheesy, saucy goodness and finish the meal off with a trip to the neighboring science themed ice cream parlor, Creamistry. 

Camp Social

Another great themed restaurant for families is Camp Social, located off of Bethany Home Road and 7th Street. This summer-camp themedis full of wacky decor, including tire swing chairs and mason jar glasses. Kids can wander to the activity section, filled with arcade games, movies, and a pingpong table. Don’t worry about not sending the kids to summer camp this year - nannies can simply bring the kids to Camp Social!

Organ stop pizza

Home to the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa is one of the best places to bring the kids for dinner and a show. As their name suggests, the menu at Organ Stop consists of the typical pizza shop’s fare - pizza, pasta, and salad. But the main attraction is the Wurlitzer organ, originally built for a theater in Denver. Stop by in the evening to hear one of the four in house organists play first hand, and take the time to learn all about how the wind instrument works. 

The Perch

Looking for a more wild experience? Take the kids to The Perch Pub and Brewery in Chandler. In addition to a delicious pub menu, the store is filled with over 50 rescue birds. Visiting the store is a great way for nannies to explain the importance of taking care of animals properly, understanding their habits, and learning their histories while the kids interact with the different types of macaws and cockatoos. . Adults and kids alike are sure to love this experience!