Fall is here! The leaves are starting to change colors and it’s time to throw on those cozy sweaters. Fall brings a lot of learning opportunities for kids of all ages. In this article we will strategize ways to turn everyday fall experiences into learning moments and activities.
Here at Recipe for Parenting we believe it is extremely as a parent (and teacher) to use scaffolding to help teacher your child new skills.
Scaffolding is a term developed by psychologists that deals with assisting children when they are learning something new. This can be done by parents, teachers or even advanced students. It involves teaching your child a skill through modeling (showing them how to do it) and then having them try it on their own. You want them to feel challenged, but if they start getting frustrated or are having a hard time, you step in and help them through the next step. It is important not to do it for your child. You can show them by doing it yourself, but them have them try it on their own!
We explain how each activity relates to different developmental and educational domains.
Think of areas where your child lacks or needs support in educationally, and find everyday learning moments to teach them. Here are some of our everyday learning activities for fall:
Why should children spend more time outside?
When kids play outside a lot in early childhood they learn about the world around them and gain an appreciation for nature. They also learn a different set of social and emotion skills that they wouldn’t learn indoors typically.
With the steady growth of technology in today’s modern world, people are spending more and more time on devices and less time outside. Unfortunately, researchers have found that there are major consequences to high levels of screen time.
It may seem too simple, but this is a free and easy way to teach children a lot of skills! Go out and collect a fair amount of leaves and try to get a variety of different kinds (it’s okay if you can’t find more than one type).
Sorting Leaves: Sorting is a great way to teach young children various mathematics skills.
Step 1– After going outside to collect leaves (click here to try these fake leaves if your live in an area without a lot of trees or greenery) show your child a few different ways to sort the leave (size, color, type, etc.). Mix up the leaves again and ask your child how they would sort them and have them show you!
Step 2– Get their brains working further. Ask them to explain why they sorted the items the way they did and have them count each category they sorted. Ask questions such as: “what makes these leaves different than the ones in the other pile?”, “ do you think your could sort them in a different way”.
Step 3– Encouragement. Even if they did not sort the items perfecting (or even at al), if they put in the work and tried, tell them they did a good job! Sitting down and focusing on a task is an important social-emotional skill to learn, even if it seems small to you. Young children are still learning how to regulation their emotions, follow directions and build positive relationships. If you make them feel like they did an awesome job, they will be more likely to try more new things… or that same activity again!
Step 4– Counting! This is the most basic math skill, but you can make it feel more like a game, rather than a learning task. Count each category and document the number for each. Charting and documenting is a great skill for kids to learn. You can tape the leaves onto a poster board and write the number next to it and hanging it up in your house so your child can refer back to it. Or, you can simply work with your child on just the counting and show them what each number looks like.
You can do similar counting activities with the pumpkin seeds or even various colored and sized mini and large pumpkins! If you go to the pumpkin patch, you can go into the section of the small pumpkins and squash. Follow the steps above with sorting by their various visual properties.
Here are some of my other favorite learning and/or developmental moments you can do with your child while carving pumpkins:
This may not seem like a learning or developmental activity, but it sure it! Painting pumpkins opens up a lot of discussions about colors, shapes and fine motor development. Get out a few different colors for your child to choose from. Your kid might already know the colors so try extending the learning activity into a more challenging one by mixing the colors and talking about how to make new colors out of old ones!
If your child doesn’t know colors, talk about each color as they are paining with it. Talk about other items around the house that are the same color as well so that they start making more neural connections that are associated with the different colors!
Painting also helps build your child’s fine motor skills (using small movements with their hands) compared to the gross motor skills (large movements, such as running, jumping, skipping, etc.). Try incorporating different kinds of paintbrushes of various sized. Click here to see a kit I ordered for my classroom that I love. You can also use different items from around the house to paint, such as q-tips, fingers, sponges and more!
Let your child get creative and do it on their own. Letting them use their own creativity and then encouraging them after will lead them to want to be creative in other areas.
This might be hard for a lot of younger kids but it is still a great activity to do! If your child can’t directly carve the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin into flatter pieces for them so they can work on cutting the meat of the pumpkin along with whoever is carving too. This is another great activity to help develop stronger fine motor skills in your child. Strong fine motors skills make writing and drawing easier.
Nature Walk or Hike
Similar to collecting leaves, there are a lot of learning activities and moments you can use while on a neighborhood walk or a hike out in the country or woods. You can incorporate the leaf collecting with this activity, but there are also many other learning moments to take advantage of!
Why go outside?
Unfortunately, when summer ends, there tends to be less and less time spent outdoors. Make sure you are still finding time every single day to get your child outdoors, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
In the first three years of life, a million neural connections are made every second. And by age three, 80% of synaptic connections in the brain are created, which is why it is so important to pay attention to your child’s development and learn ways to grow and strong, healthy and smart child.
Increased time outdoors has been shown to have immense benefits for children’s (and adults) brain health and development. Researchers say it is actually necessary if your want your child’s brain to grow to its full potential.
When children play outdoors, their frontal cortex is activated. The frontal cortex is responsible for controlling emotions, problem solving and other important skills all humans need to be productive members of society.
Collecting Nature objects:
This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to do some home learning activities. Most kids already love bringing in trinkets from recess or playing outside, so why not encourage more of it and turn it into something special! You can collect anything, I personally love collecting pine cones because there are a lot of things you can do with them!
Pine cones can make super cute indoor décor, so why not let your child help? Parenting hack: pick colors that you actually want in your home for fall if you plan on using them for decoration. I like using gold, whites and burgundy. Click here for some affordable paints to use. If you don’t care, let your child pick the paints (it’s more fun for them that way). Sit down and paint with them if you want to develop a stronger relationship, or use this time for some self-care and mommy (and daddy) relation.
You can also use various nature objects to paint with. Have your child dip pine cones, leaves, acorns and other items into paint and use them as stamps. You can extend this into a more science learning opportunity but talking about the veins and other things that show up when you stamp them on the paper.
For example: if they stamp with a leaf and see the veins, discuss how this is how plants transport water through their bodies. It’s okay to use big words, even with young kids, it helps build a stronger vocabulary (just make sure to explain big words to them that they might not understand).
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