It must be autumn. There’s a chill in the air, and the leaves are changing color.
The wonder of nature calls to both adults and children, and children have an innate drive to learn from their natural world. To celebrate that wonder, we have fun and simple activities to make available to your child this season. The supply list is easy, since all you need is an open-ended day in nature. Sometimes the best learning happens when we plan less and simply connect our children to their natural world.
Something as simple as beautiful fall leaves allow children to collect, sort, and create. First, look for leaves, especially ones changing colors. Enthusiastically show the leaves to your child, and discuss the beauty and unique design of each leaf. (Heart-shape leaves are my favorite.)
Invite the child to collect leaves of different colors, patterns and shapes with you. Children enjoy a task and normally will respond positively when asked to help. Example: “I see a yellow leaf, can you find one, too?”They can collect leaves in a wagon, a wheelbarrow or a pail. A garden rake is a great tool to make available this season, as well. Children can gather leaves with a child-size rake.
Once your child has collected plenty of leaves, invite your child to show you his leaves and articulate what he sees. Point out the differences between leaves. This is a great opportunity to suggest that the child categorize, or sort, his leaves by shape, color, or pattern.
After the child has sorted his leaves, ask him to pick five favorites. Show the child how he can make a leaf rubbing on paper. The rubbings can then be used to create a nature journal. Leaf rubbings also make excellent cards your child can send to family and friends to spread autumn cheer.
Sit back and watch your child experience the wonder of nature, especially when art and nature are combined. No matter what your child finds to do with leaves this autumn, keep it hands-on and provide an opportunity for purposeful work.
In our Montessori classroom purposeful activity is called work. Dr. Montessori states, “This is the single most important result of our whole work. The transition from one stage to another always follows a piece of work done by the hands with real things, work accompanied by mental concentration.” (Absorbent Mind)