Predicting the Greening of Spring
with Red Emperor Tulips


1-2 periods; revisit regularly during weekly spring updates


As the earth revolves around the sun in its annual cycle we experience seasonal change. Where will spring green-up happen first? What kind of patterns will we see as the wave of spring progresses? Start in the fall to think about these questions, and make some predictions. Then in the spring revisit your predictions with each Journey North news update and real-time map.

Print a copy of the blank map and the Tulip Prediction Chart for each student or student group.

Tulip Prediction Chart

Laying the Groundwork

  • Challenge students to predict a pattern showing how tulips in Journey North gardens will emerge. Ask, In which states/provinces do you think the tulip gardens will emerge first, second, third, and so on? Use different colors to show their predictions on the blank map. Then have students document their predicted order of spring green-up by recording the names of the states in the left-hand column of the Tulip Prediction Chart.
  • Ask students to explain the thinking behind their predictions and respond to one or both of these questions in their journals:

Why do you think the greening of spring will happen in the direction you predicted?
What do you already know about this or what have you observed in the past?


  1. As spring progresses, students can document the order of actual tulip emergence by recording the names of the states/provinces in the appropriate spaces on the chart.
  2. Have students revisit and, if necessary, revise their predictions and explanations when they receive tulip garden updates and new real-time maps.
  3. At the end of the season, ask students to describe the patterns they saw and compare them with their initial predictions.
  4. Finally, ask students to form hypotheses to explain why tulips emerged and bloomed where and when they did. (For instance, "Tulips emerged first in the South, maybe because it warmed up sooner.")

Making Connections — Journaling and Discussion Questions

  • In what ways was the greening of spring similar to your original prediction?
  • In what ways was the greening of spring different than you predicted? Explain what you did not know originally that caused your prediction to be off.
  • Explain what you learned about climate and geography from tracking spring's arrival?
  • What did you learn about what plants need to grow?
  • How could we test our hypotheses?

As you listen to discussions, review student journals, and see how students revise prediction charts and maps, use the Making Predictions Using Data rubric.

Digging Deeper (for older students)
Measure how much heat tulips need to bloom! Spring Fever: Tulips, Temperatures and the Greening of Spring.