Autumn Leaves Activities
What better way to learn about Autumn than through play! There are so many ways to learn about the seasonal changes. I have compiled some easy & fun activities to do with your kiddos at home that support a variety of early learning domains. Here are art, sensory, science & math oriented ideas!
I'm drawing from curriculum ideas I would do the classroom--setting up intentional yet open ended activities. It provides wonderful opportunities to engage with your child at home with varied vocabulary that describe physical properties and ultimately teach them about their world through play! Let's dive in :)
Art: Leaf Painting
Let it be an open ended activity with no end goal or achieved craft outcome! Toddlers are more interested in exploring materials rather than being told to follow rules they don't understand yet. Make space for their creative juices to flow, letting them dictate how it will look! Here we have leaves we picked from the yard, gold & bronze metallic tempura paint, a paintbrush, and some canvases that the kiddo had already started working on. I set it up with no expectation or no idea how he would use the materials!
Since my kiddo's worked with paintbrushes before, he immediately set out by dipping the brush into the paint and swiping it quickly across the canvases. He paused and painted on the leaves a little bit. Next, it turned into sensory exploration, using the paintbrush to put paint on his hands. He rubbed the paint between his fingers, discovering the slippery texture and properties of paint.
This is a great activity to describe contrasting textures! Compare the slippery, squishy paint with the rough, bumpy, smooth, or crunchy leaf. Provide the language and set up the activity, but also give space for them to make discoveries on their own as well. :)
Sensory: Leaves in Play Dough
This activity was his favorite! He and I are generally fans of play dough for it's super soft and soothing texture while being moldable to seemingly endless creative whims. (If you want an amazing cinnamon scented play dough, check out my recipe here!) He stuck the leaves in the play dough and it was instantly a birthday cake or a sailboat. We pressed the leaf and saw the pattern the veins created. It's wonderful to see their interests and ideas shine through. He naturally asked for a "blue knife" so that he can cut the play dough :) Adding other nature elements like sticks & rocks would be a great addition as well.
Science: Color Recognition & Comparisons / Light & Shadow
Grab a few different colored leaves and lay out similar colored crayons, markers, or paints. Use the activity as a springboard into talking about the names of the colors. If you're using paints, you can point out how the colors change when combined. If your kiddo is a little bit older, try turning it into a scavenger hunt where they have to go around the house and bring something back that matches the color of the leaf they hold!
Hold a few leaves up to the sunlight or a flashlight. Wiggle them to make a shadow dance or compare how transparent the different leaves can be!
Math: Leaves Sorting / Leaves Pile Jumping
Any containers will do of various sizes. If you grab a handful of leaves, let your toddler sort, move, and dump as they please. Yes, even throwing them up in the air all over the table if you're brave or don't mind sweeping! All of this movement from different size containers teaches early concepts of volume and how different materials/properties fill up space.
And then there's the ol' classic pile jumping! Get them involved in collecting all the leaves to make a pile. Again, you can talk about volume comparisons, how all the little leaves combine to make one big pile. Let 'em loose jumping or running through the pile and watch the leaves scatter! The one big pile can scatter into hundreds of little pieces again so quickly :)
Vocabulary Quick List
I hope that one or a few of these spark your interest! Even the simplest ways we can engage with our kids in play can make a huge impact on how they understand the world :)