When talking to children about the changing seasons it's helpful to talk about all four seasons. Talk to your child about the piles of dry leaves that can be found during Autumn, warmer clothing for Winter, the beach or pool in Summer and flowers for Spring.
At Care for Kindies we do lots of activities that teach the children about each season and the changes we see in the natural environment and we do this across all age groups. In this article we want to share with you some of the activities we do with the children and we hope it provides inspiration for activities for you to enjoy at home or when out exploring.
Art and craft is always popular when it comes to the Autumn season because the vibrant colours we see in the natural environment at this time of year really stand out in children's artworks!
One activity that our Care for Kindies Educators do with the children is leaf printing.
All you need for this simple but fun activity are a collection of leaves of different sizes and shapes, different coloured paints, plain paper and paint brushes. Keep in mind you can also let your child experiment with using different ordinary household items to apply the paint, like a kitchen sponge.
Ask your child to choose their favourite colour, or help them to mix colours to create a new colour. Next, paint one side of the leaf and place it onto the paper, paint side down. The child can then gently rub the leaf with their fingertips to create a leaf print. Carefully peel the leaf away to reveal the print!
Encourage your child to take a look at the patterns the leaf has created on the paper. Perhaps they can see the veins of the leaf.
Get cooking in the kitchen!
The cooler weather means our bodies start to crave warm and comforting meals. Encourage your child to help in the kitchen to prepare meals that are designed for the cooler months. Children can help prep the ingredients or collect herbs from the garden. Having your child help in the kitchen not only helps them build confidence, but it also provides an opportunity to talk to them about the nutritional benefits of different foods. Always supervise children in the kitchen and give them age-appropriate tasks when encouraging them to help.
Create a sensory box
Head outdoors and encourage your child to collect natural items like leaves, seed pods, sticks and other plant items that they can find on the ground. Give them a container or basket to put their found treasures into. Explore your backyard, the local park, or if you're in Sydney and wanting to explore further away from home head to the Royal Botanic Garden in the city or the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan. Put the container or basket on a table at home to allow your child to examine the things they have found. The natural materials can be used to create an artwork, or simply left out for the child to explore and play with at their leisure. Keep any objects that could be potential choking hazards out of reach for younger children.
Documenting the changes of the season
A great project for older kids is to encourage them to document the daily or weekly changes of the season. Give your child a digital camera or the use of your phone (under your supervision) to take a photo every day or once a week of a particular deciduous tree or even a view of a park and ask them to observe and talk about the changes to the trees as time passes. This is a great activity for a parent and child to do together and a ritual can be created around the daily or weekly documenting of the changes.
Sing a song about Autumn
"Autumn Leaves are Falling Down" is a song that can be sung to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down". This is a simple song for children to learn, and they can use their hands to show the way the leaves fall off the trees. This video provides a great demonstration - "Autumn Leaves are Falling Down". The Educators at Care for Kindies teach the children this song and the toddlers and babies really enjoy it.
Incorporating letter-tracing with an Autumn theme gives children a chance to learn pre-writing skills while also exploring their creativity. A simple worksheet we use allows the child to paint or draw a leaf using an Autumn colour of their choice - red, yellow, orange or brown. Below their leaf they are encouraged to attempt to trace the sentence “A is for Autumn”. Tracing helps build the foundations for writing letters and words and painting and creative drawing is a way for children to convey ideas, express emotions and explore colour.
Helping in the garden and jumping in leaves
If you have a deciduous tree in your backyard you may need some help raking up all those leaves! Encourage your child to help rake, sweep or collect leaves into a pile while teaching them about keeping the garden tidy. Once you're done with all the raking it's time to jump on that pile of leaves, or even better, throw them in the air!
We'd love to know if you try any of these activities at home over the coming months, or if there are other things your family does to celebrate and enjoy the Autumn season. If you capture photos of your child experiencing any of these activities send them through to your child's Educators at Care for Kindies - we would love to see them!