Fall is finally here! Whether the leaves are falling in your neck of the woods of not, preschoolers are leaf lovers. Leaves are naturally engaging to young children, and best of all, they’re a natural element that can be applied to many areas of learning. Below are some simple and fun leaf activities to further develop children’s creativity, math, fine-motor, and music skills.
Leafy Fall Fun
1. Leafy Art
Young children need the opportunity to think creatively, making something that is their own and that expresses their feelings and imagination. In this artistic activity, simply invite children to decorate leaves with a range of materials – any way they want! Place a variety of leaves on the table. Offer children brushes, paints, glue, googly eyes, stickers, construction paper, or even play dough. You’ll likely be impressed by their natural artistic instinct!
2. Math Leaves
Go on a nature walk with your children, collecting as many safe leaves are you can – ranging from big to tiny, soft to course, and a variety of colors. Talk about how the leaves are alike and different. Once back in the classroom, use the leaves as a manipulative to reinforce a variety of early math skills. You can sort leaves by size (e.g. small, medium, large.) You can count and classify how many leaves of each type you have and make a bar chart using your classroom easel. Children can even create patterns with their leaves – such as big leaf, small leaf, big leaf, small leaf.
3. Handy Leaf Play
Developing strong fine-motor skills is essential for healthy development. Help children strengthen the small muscles in their wrists, hands, and fingers by playing in sensory bins. Sensory bins are plastic tubs filled with exploratory elements, in this case, leaves. They can be big or small, making them ideal for either individual or group activities. After collecting a variety of leaves, place the leaves into a plastic tub and lay out a selection of large kitchen utensils or toy utensils. This can include kitchen tongs, potato masher, whisk, ladle, and measuring cups. Encourage children to explore the leaves using these utensils to move them around or pick them up and take a closer look! Each of these utensils works different muscles, and together they can help build a strong fine-motor foundation.
4. Musical Leaves
You might not immediately think about leaves making music, but almost any object can make distinct musical sounds! Place leaves in a bucket or large bowl. Have children hold the bucket in their lap, and ask them what sounds they can make with these leaves. You may need to prompt them with suggestions, such as leaves can be crunched, swirled, drummed on, or stomped upon. Next, introduce the whole body into play. Encourage children to dance or march under falling leaves tossed in the air – perhaps accompanies by real music!
- Remember that some of the best learning opportunities for preschoolers do not involve right or wrong answers. Instead encourage flexible thinking through activities, like those outlined above, that have multiple solutions.
- Use creative activities to support oral language development by commenting on children’s work, focusing on their efforts and describing what you observe. For example, “I see lots of colors in your leaf collage!” Engage in conversation as you create together.
- As a “leafy” extension, you may want to consider growing living plants in your classroom, providing your own leaves and teaching children about growth and life cycles (#161360JAH.)
How do you get creative with leaves during the Fall season in your classroom? What skills do you observe your children learning and practicing as they play with nature? Share with us in the Comments section below!