Autumn may have already begun,
but now we get to experience its height as we transition from the rich greenery of summer to the grey of winter. The leaves change color, the sky stays darker, even the stars switch shifts in the night sky as we turn through another leg of the natural cycle. It’s a beautiful time with so many opportunities to engage your kiddos and better their understanding of the world they live in.
Below are 5 fun activities to expand those curious minds and explore the wonders of the season:
1. Make your own tree with fallen leaves.
One of the most iconic mark of the season is the changing and falling of the leaves. This creates a perfect opportunity to teach your children about the science behind the color of leaves.
“Most of the year, these leaves are green because of the chlorophyll [a type of chemical] they use to absorb energy from sunlight during photosynthesis. The leaves convert the energy into sugars to feed the tree.” (Smithsonian)
This means that when the days become shorter in the autumn, the leaves no longer get the sunlight they need to produce this chemical. When they no longer have enough chlorophyll to keep them green, the leaves revert back to their original colors- the reds, oranges, and yellows we see brazen in the fall!
One of my favorite activities to do when teaching this transition is having the children create their own autumn trees!
Here are the 7 easy steps:
- On a sheet of brown construction paper, cut out the shape of leafless a tree. It doesn’t need to be too complex, just a trunk with some branches will do fine! If you would like a guide, feel free to use this free template!
- Glue the tree to another sheet of paper. In my classroom we layered it on blue construction paper, but you can use plain printer paper or whatever calls to you.
Now here comes the fun part!
- Collect fallen leaves. Make a game out of it! You can do this by making a scavenger hunt for different types of leaves. Another fun game is setting a 10 second timer and challenging the children to collect as many as they can.
- Place the leaves in a bowl or bin. Make sure it’s big enough for the children to get their hands in without making too much of a mess.
- Let them use their hands to crunch up the dry leaves into small pieces. This is a great sensorial exercise, too!
- Next, on the paper with the tree, help the children put glue on the branches. Don’t be afraid to really cover it.
- Lastly, let the children place their crunched up leaves on the glue. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to help them sprinkle it on top, but others may rather be more meticulous in their placement. Whatever the case may be, just let them have fun with it!
And there you have it! A beautiful work of art that incorporates nature and shows off their creativity!
2. Pinecone Squirrels
Any sort of transition between the seasons can be anticipated by observing the wildlife around us. For example, when the winter is upon us, we know that certain animals, such as bears, go into hibernation.
When it’s time for spring, many of the birds that migrated for winter start reappearing. Summertime brings a resurgence of insects. And for those animals that stay in their habitat during all the seasons, autumn is the time to start preparing for winter.
This means gathering provisions, and no one does that better than our little friend, the squirrel!
The squirrel- grey, red, and black alike- starts gathering nuts and other sources of nutrients throughout the autumn months to ensure they have plenty of provisions to last the winter.
One great activity I do with my children is crafting squirrels using pinecones, felt, and a little hot glue. Put them all together, and you get an awfully cute companion to remind you about the hoarding habits of squirrels and other animals getting ready for winter!
- You’ll want to cut out tails, heads, arms, and little acorns from the felt sheets.
- Select your pinecone! We gathered our from outside the school, but if you want to purchase them, that works just as well.
- Either cut out felt eyes and a nose, or draw them on with Sharpie. Either works well, but we used the felt.
- Help the children glue on the top of the acorns to the bottom, then the arms to edges.
- From here, you can have the children place where they want to tail, head, and arms to go, then you can hot glue each for them. (Depending on how much you want to have your children help with the gluing process. There were some students that I was able to help guide the glue and others I had to do myself. Just remember: SAFETY FIRST).
Just like that you have a cozy little companion to gather winter supplies with!
3. Pumpkin Banana Smoothie
Now if you’re in the mood for something sweet and seasonal, a pumpkin banana smoothie is the choice for you! This is a great activity to have the children do because it incorporates a lot of different elements in creating it. For starters, reading a recipe is always a good exercise in fluency and comprehension. The instructions help with sequencing. Measurements incorporate mathematics, while bringing it all together is a science! A smoothie is an extra special way to bring cooking into the classroom because it’s easy and fun for everyone (plus prep and clean up is a breeze)!
Just combine these 7 ingredients in a blender:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
A splash of vanilla
1 frozen banana
Have the children take turns adding these one at a time into a blender, and then blend away on high speed! Once it’s smooth and creamy, pour into your choice of glasses, jars, or cups, and enjoy!
4. Paint a Personal Pumpkin
With October, of course, comes the abundance of pumpkins! Tis the season for pumpkin everything- pumpkin flavors, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin seeds, etc. This activity takes the fun of pumpkin decorations and makes it a little more accessible for our younger primary and toddler friends. I’m talking about breaking out the tempera paints and going to town!
To add to the festivities, we added little witch hats (hot glued), but that is entirely optional.
5. Make a Class Acrostic Poem
Language is fundamentally important in human development. There are all sorts of ways to build that language, explore its complexities, but one of the best ways I’ve found is by doing class projects. Each month my class and I come up with an acrostic poem with that month’s name. It’s a great exercise in vocabulary, and it’s a lot of fun to see them all come together with their creativity!
This is the poem we came up with this month:
Thanks for reading!
What kinds of crafts and activities do you have lined up for this month?
Please let us know in the comments or drop us a line on facebook or instagram!
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