Pumpkin spice-filling bellies and cozy decor on front porches can only mean one thing: the last golden days of summer are upon us, and we are transitioning into fall! Fall is one of the most fun seasons to experience with kids, no matter what their age. This makes it an excellent opportunity to discuss the changing of all the seasons and everything there is to learn about our changing weather patterns. Along with the learning moments the transition into fall brings, there are so many fun activities and creative projects to experience with your little ones!
What Should I Teach My Preschooler About Fall?
The transition from summer to fall brings about several changes in weather, nature, and daily life. Here are some changes you can easily point out and engage your child in conversation with on walks, in the car, or just out and about.
- Temperature Drops: As fall approaches, you’ll notice cooler temperatures, especially in the mornings and evenings. This is a great time to explain how we dress for different seasons and temps. As you pick out clothes with your child for the day, make it into a quick game by seeing if they can correctly choose the correct layers, whether it be a sweater or some rain boots!
- Variable Weather: These months are usually characterized by unpredictable weather. Cooler ones may follow warm days, and rain showers become more common. Keep an eye on weather forecasts for planning activities and incorporate your child in looking at the forecast pictures and explaining what they mean. If you are feeling super adventurous, you can even open up the floor to suggestions of what activity they would like to do.
- Daylight Changes: Moving into fall will bring shorter days and longer nights, which can be helpful at bedtime but confusing for younger minds. Take time to explain that different seasons bring all sorts of changes, even for the sunshine!
- Fall Foliage: One of the most beautiful aspects of the summer-fall transition is the changing colors of leaves on trees. Keep an eye out for the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows as the leaves begin to change and fall from the trees. Take your child on a leaf hunt and pick out your favorite colors.
- Wildlife Activity: Observe changes in wildlife behavior. Some animals, like birds, may start migrating south for the winter, while others, like squirrels, may become more active as they prepare for colder months. Now is a great time to listen and watch for geese in the skies and all of the little critters roaming your trees and yard.
“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile” – William Cullen Bryant
Keep the Learning Going
The preschool age comes with lots of questions and, let’s be honest, lots of and lots of talking. As the parent or guardian, it can feel a little redundant, BUT here are some helpful ways to stay engaged with your child and mix it up a bit.
Storytelling and Books
Read age-appropriate books about the seasons. Look for books with simple language and colorful illustrations to help your child better understand and visualize the seasons. If your child attends a preschool or daycare, they may be involved in book fairs or have some favorite recommendations of books to read at home with a cozy autumn theme. Visiting your local library is a great way to find seasonally engaging books that will answer questions and fully immerse your child in the autumn season.
Sing Seasonal Songs
There are plenty of songs related to each season available. For example, “Jingle Bells” for winter, “You Are My Sunshine” for summer, “Ring Around the Rosie” for spring, and “Autumn Leaves” for fall. You can look up hand motions and the words for reference, or you may even learn them from your child when they come home from school!
If your child loves a good project, create a simple calendar or chart with images or symbols representing each season. Let your child mark off each season as it comes and goes. This helps them understand the cycle of seasons. Plus, what child doesn’t love checking something off every day?
You may already be continuously talking about the seasons as they come and go. Pointing out seasonal changes when you’re outside and asking your child to identify which season it is. If you need extra inspiration, ask your child’s teacher at their school, such as Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool. Discuss what they are teaching in class related to the season and some ideas on how to keep that learning going at home.
Be prepared for your child to ask questions about the seasons. Lots of them. Encourage their curiosity and provide age-appropriate explanations. When you run out of answers or feel like you can’t take in any more information, it’s okay to turn to a book or the internet and do some research together.
Be Patient and Fun
Keep the learning process enjoyable and flexible. Children at this age learn through play and exploration, so make sure to incorporate fun into your teaching approach. Letting them explore the backyard while you sit and enjoy the autumn breeze is needed to get the full fall experience for the day.
Fall Activities For Preschoolers
Engaging the senses is a fantastic way to help preschoolers explore and understand the autumn season. Providing hands-on activities where they can get a little messy or fully immerse themselves in are the perfect opportunities to play and learn at the same time. Here are five fall sensory activities for preschoolers that we love!
Leaf Sensory Bin
Collect a variety of colorful fall leaves, pinecones, and small branches and place them in a large container or sensory bin. Let your preschooler explore the different textures, colors, and shapes of the leaves and natural materials. They can sort, count, or make patterns with them.
Apple Sensory Play
Apples, apples, apples. Gather apples of various colors and sizes and talk about some of their funny names. Create an apple-themed sensory station with whole apples, apple slices, and apple peels. Encourage your child to touch, smell, and taste the apples. You can also use apple slices for stamping art projects.
Pumpkin Guts Exploration
Save the “guts” (seeds and stringy pulp) when carving pumpkins for Halloween or making pumpkin puree. Let your preschooler dig their hands into the gooey pumpkin guts. Talk about the texture and sensation. You can also roast the pumpkin seeds for a tasty treat.
Spicy Sensory Jars
Fill small jars or containers with various autumn spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Seal the jars tightly and poke small holes in the lids. Have your child smell each spice and describe the scents. Discuss how these spices are often used in fall recipes and collaborate on which recipe you should try.
Nature Sound Walk
Go for a nature walk in a local park or your backyard. Listen carefully to the sounds of leaves crunching underfoot, birds chirping, and the wind rustling through trees. Encourage your preschooler to close their eyes and use their sense of hearing to identify different sounds. You can even pack a pair of binoculars and bring sight into the mix by searching the trees for fall foliage, birds, and wildlife.
Remember The Excitement
As we grow up and experience the seasons on repeat for years on end, it can be hard to remember the excitement and change that the seasons bring. Letting your inner child enjoy these changes is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your child and to have fun together. Let your worries melt away this fall with a warm mug of cocoa, a snuggly child on your lap, and a cozy fall story, and just enjoy the moment. The seasons won’t feel new and exciting for them forever, so just relax and enjoy it with them.