By Alex Chiu and Alisa Jones
Autumn is in the air! Crisp, cooler temperatures make us grab a sweater in the mornings. Vibrant colors of the changing leaves cause us stop to take in their beauty. Smells of cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins spike cravings of pie and cider. Our senses are beckoned at every turn.
Similarly, the senses of children in Montessori classrooms are heightened as we invite them to tune into all that is around them, not only in autumn, but all year long. While the Sensorial area of the classroom is specifically dedicated to stimulating and enhancing children’s senses, Montessori classrooms enrich students’ sensorial experiences across curriculum areas. This happens in every season through a variety of enriching activities that bring in what is unique to each different time of year.
Fall provides us with an abundance of activities we can do that help to build skills across curriculum areas using easy to find apples, acorns, pumpkins, and leaves. There are so many things we do in our classrooms with an autumn theme, and there are even more that you might enjoy trying at home as well. What follows is just a sampling of some fun fall activities that are easy to do with your family and friends this autumn season.
Fall into Science
• Sort types of apples or leaves by size, color, or variety.
• Grade apples or pumpkins from largest to smallest.
• Examine the parts of an apple or pumpkin from stem to skin to core to seeds.
• Experiment to see if apples (or pumpkins) sink or float (and if you find that apples float, why not create an apple boat by slicing an apple in half, adding a toothpick and paper flag, and letting it set sail in a bowl of water!).
• Do an experiment to find out why apples turn brown. Slice an apple, leave one piece as a control, soak one in lemon juice, one in vinegar, one in water (label them). Set them out on plates, and then observe and log what happens to the different samples of apple slices as they sit out over time.
• Explore gravity! Don’t want to drop the apples or pumpkins from the top of the swing set and clean up the mess? Try rolling two down the slide or a ramp made of cereal boxes. Guess which will roll to the bottom first. Were you right? Why or why not?
• Measure the circumference of your pumpkin and compare it to the measurement for your head.
Practical Life Autumn Activities
• Slice and serve apples. Check out the website www.forsmallhands.com for child-safe kitchen utensils.
• Wash a pumpkin. Have a parent carve open the top, and scoop out the seeds. Design your jack o’ lantern.
• Make applesauce or apple or pumpkin pie or muffins, or any other wonderful recipe you have.
• Conduct a blind taste test of different types of apples and vote to see which is your family’s favorite variety.
• Toast pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with salt, cinnamon sugar, or a favorite spice to try a new twist on an old favorite.
• Transfer acorns from one dish to another using a spoon, tongs, or, if you’re really up for a challenge, chopsticks.
Seasonal Reading Connections
• Read the Dr. Seuss classic Ten Apples Up On Top and then do some follow-up activities.
After reading, see how many apples you can stack. Discuss with your child what makes it easy or hard to stack them? What could you do to make it more stable? (Pyramid? Skewers?)
• Cozy up with some of our favorite pumpkin-themed books, such as Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington, The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons, Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, Pumpkin Town or Nothing is Better than Pumpkins by Katie McKy.
• Go on a nature scavenger hunt after reading We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger. Invite your children to search for seeds, different types or colors of leaves, a stick that looks like a letter, something fuzzy, etc.
• Count acorns or leaves by ones, twos, fives, and tens after reading Nuts to You or Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.
Autumn Art Projects
• Chop up an apple, add toothpicks, and build creative 3D structures.
• Slice an apple in half, paint the flat half, and make apple prints. Try slicing one apple through the center and another from core to base to see how the prints differ. This makes pretty fall stationery.
• Make leaf rubbings. Peel off the paper around your crayons to allow for a smoother crayon rubbing.
• Create an apple or pumpkin inspired drawing using crayons, colored pencils, or oil pastels. Look closely at your apple, what different colors do you see? Blend them together and cut out in an apple shape.
• Decorate a pumpkin using paint, pipe cleaners, glitter, buttons, or unusual items you may find around the house.
Math Fun in the Fall
• Count the number of trees that have lost all of their leaves in your front yard or on your street.
• Estimate how many seeds are in your pumpkin as you carve it. Then count them before roasting!
• Collect acorns or leaves when out for a walk (you will need a lot!). At home, have your child set out the leaves by quantity from 1-10 (or as high as you can go!).
As you can see, it’s easy to incorporate fun learning activities into family time this fall season. We look forward to your children sharing all of their family autumn adventures with us when they come to school. And as fall turns to winter, and then spring, and then summer, challenge your family to apply some of these ideas to what is unique to each of the seasons for family fun all year long!
Clip art credit to: https://gallery.yopriceville.com/var/resizes/Free-Clipart-Pictures/Fall-PNG/Autumn_Pumpkin_and_Fruits_PNG_Clipart_Image.png?m=1443543781