This season offers a bevy of rich experiences for children’s learning in the preschool classroom or family child care home! These inexpensive, ” hands-on” learning experiences will promote children’s understanding of the season across all content areas.
Let’s rake up some learning fun!
Fall is also called autumn. It is the time of year between summer and winter.
Many plants and animals begin to prepare for the winter in fall.
Colors of fall are yellow, brown, orange, and red.
Fall is harvest time.
Using a large leaf outline on Fall-colored paper, introduce words such as ” autumn”, “season”, “harvest”, and color words of yellow, orange, brown, and red to begin the theme. Encourage children to think of other words, and add those, too as days pass. You may also want to begin with a bare tree outline, and adds words on colored paper leaves. Talk with children about how “fall” and “autumn” mean the same time of year, and how many animals and plants begin preparing for winter during this season. Many farmers also harvest crops they grow in fall. Ask children how they know the season is changing (cooler weather, need for coats, trees losing/changing leaves). Incorporate signs and colors of fall into your learning environment.
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
This treasured, simple, lyrical story of the passing of seasons and years of a New England farm family is one that should be shared through the seasons with young children. It’s one of the very best, and now available with an accompanying audio CD. Available from public libraries or www.amazon.com
Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s Read and Find-out Science, stage 2) by Betsy Maestro and Loretta Krupinski
This book has been around a while, but I find none better for the detailed, intensely colored illustrations that allow children to really see and understand what goes on within the changing tree and leaf through fall. The newest editions include places to see the best fall foliage by area.
Music and Movement
“Leaves Tumble Down” Tresa Patterson
Tune: ” Three Blind Mice”
Leaves tumble down (arms up, motion slow falling with children into a pile)
Leaves tumble down (Repeat motion)
First they were green
Now some are red
Others just yellow or brown instead (Ask children to give colors they see.)
But they all tumble down!
“Mrs. Marty’s Farm” Tresa Patterson
How much longer will it be? (Motion pointing to watch.)
When, just when can we see
Everything at Mrs. Marty’s Farm!
The wheat so tall (Stretch up on tip-toe.)
Or cotton low (Reach to floor.)
Apples to eat (Biting pantomime.)
With seeds to grow (Fingers motion planting.)
What animals? (Shrug shoulders.)
A horse? A cow? ,A goat? (Invite children’s animal sounds.)
Ya’ never know!
Grab your basket, grab your sack (Motion holding these.)
Mrs. Marty’s Farm
We’re coming back!
Memories of diving into huge piles of leaves are a treasured part of countless childhoods, as well deserve, but here are a few more outdoor joys for autumn! These experiences can happen indoors, too, as weather conditions demand.
Children should be gathered in groups of 2-3, and the adult or chosen child tosses a leaf into the air. Children can touch and toss the leaf with any body part EXCEPT their hands! This encourages movement of the WHOLE body in very creative, funny ways!
The object is to see which group manages to keep the leaf up in the air for the longest time.
Where it Grows
Many children have no real concept that foods and fibers actually grow from plants! Arrange a visit with a local farmer or orchard, to allow children to touch, feel, and take cotton from the field, apples and other fruits from the tree, or bales of hay. Children learn what they take in through their senses, and this real learning is fundamental! Encourage literacy skills by creating and sending thank you notes to growers visited.
I created this variation of “Mother May I?” years ago, and it always delights! The child chosen to be “It” spins a real apple, using hands or the stem, and announces how many spins the apple made. A child is then called on, who asks “On my head or on my toes?”
And the “It” child declares which it will be. Children either spin in circles on foot or summersault their way forward to lead!
Leafy Collections/Likey Leafy Placemats
Encourage children to collect leaves they find interesting during walks or outdoor play. Place leaves on clear contact paper sheets (about 18′ x 12″) and place another same-size sheet on top, and leave your collection in the science area for investigation. Contact paper allows manipulation without destruction or ingestion of any poisonous leaves.
Placemats can be created in similar ways, leaves can be placed on to colored paper headed with “Leaves I Like”, then covered again in clear contact paper. Placemats can remain in the classroom through the season, or made as gifts for families.
Children 3+ will gladly express their creativity by gluing and placing popcorn kernels, seeds, nut shells or wheat shafts on paper. Be open and receptive to whatever children find representative of the season!
Place large laminated paper sheets of red, yellow, orange, and brown on floor or table, and invite children to sort in groups according to color, then by size, leaf points, etc.
Develop a chart of various leaves collected with children! Investigate whether the largest leaves drop from the largest trees! Chart your findings1
Simple Baked Apples
4 of any good baking apple-Jonagold, Rome Beauty or Golden Delicious work fine.
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup chopped raisins
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 375.
Make a mixture with the brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and chopped raisins in a bowl.
Using an apple corer or paring knife, cut out the core of each apple to ¼ inch from the bottom of each apple. (Adult MUST do this step!). Use a spoon for scooping out seeds.
Openings should be about 1 inch wide. Children can assist with stuffing filling into apples, and topping each with ¼ tablespoon butter. Place apples in 8 x 8 baking pan, and pour ¾ cup boiling water into bottom of pan (ADULT only!). Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender, but not too mushy. Once removed from the oven, use a spoon to baste apples in the rich baking juices-yum!
This recipe is simple, healthy, and can be enjoyed throughout the season!
Apple Tasting Party
Because the fall offers so many varieties of apples, explore the various textures, tastes, and aromas of these by offering a tasting party of diced bits, wedges, or even purees, to children. If children are offered fresh fruit, they usually gobble them, especially when they are made finger-friendly, and served with a yogurt dipping sauce!
Add large baskets, bib aprons with pockets, and mini-haystacks (Can be found at many craft stores very inexpensively.) so as to allow children to role-play their own “picking time”. Children can use the same items with added real and play produce samples to portray grocers or farmers’ markets!
Add numerous tractor and trucks with loaders to the area. Add empty oatmeal canisters to represent silos. Invite children to construct farms or orchards.
Hi-Ho Cherry-O game
Farmer in the Dell
All About Fall (DVD-2008) Available from www.amazon.com