Fall may seem fraught with tiny dangers for tiny bodies: Halloween candy, sharp pumpkin-carving tools, and people in costumes jumping out from behind corners.
But fall is also a great opportunity to learn about the world—something toddlers and young children do every day, all the time! One way to teach about a season is to pick a symbol and stick to it. An easy one for fall is the symbol of a leaf. If your part of the country doesn’t change colors as much, think of a different symbol (a pumpkin, mums, a school book) which represents a part of the season for you and your community.
Try exploring this symbol in different ways. Something as simple as a cookie cutter (like this one) can help you here. Even if your kids do not need more sugar in their lives, there are plenty of ways a cookie cutter can help you reinforce your teaching goals in sensory ways.
With a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, you can:
- Trace leaves onto construction paper (Crayola washable markers are always an asset here).
- Go to town with your Play-doh (who says leaves can’t be bright pink).
- Experiment with leaf-shaped sandwiches or toast (think sandwich cutters).
- Trace leaves onto white pumpkins and get out the finger paint! Kids will love the opportunity to color in their leaves on their own.
- Cut up seasonal fruit or veggies in the shape of leaves. Wondering what’s in season? Check it out here. Better yet, go to your local farmer’s market and pick out seasonal foods together!
During snack, craft, and lunchtime, review why leaves are important this time of year. On walks, name out the colors of the leaves. Count them on the ground. Whatever your learning objective, encourage kids to participate in naming, feeling, smelling, and touching.