The best part of fall is to me is the beautiful leaves. I can’t say my allergies always love the leaves, but my eyes, my mind, and my heart love the leaves. I love all the colorful leaves, and playing in the leaves, and the cooler weather. I just love the fall season, and too me the leaves are one of the things I have to include into my classroom. I found that I’m not the only one who finds these lovely leaves a delightful part of fall. Kids love them too, especially jumping into a great big pile of them.
One little, Two little, Three little Autumn Leaves: One little, two little, three little autumn leaves, four little, five little, six little autumn leaves, seven little, eight little, nine little autumn leaves, ten autumn leave falling down.
Autumn Leaves are Falling Down: (Tune: London Bridge) Autumn Leaves are falling, falling down, falling down, Autumn Leaves are falling down, falling to the ground.
Leaf Impressions: (need: copy paper, paper less crayons, and leaves) This is an oldy, but a goody. First step is to take the kids out on a nature walk to pick out a few leaves. I usually pick 3-5 leaves. I try to encourage them to find different shapes and sizes of leaves. After everyone has found leaves, I have them bring them inside, and wash their hands. Then I get out the paper. DO NOT USE CONSTRUCTION PAPER. It doesn’t work. I like to use regular old copy paper, tissue paper is too thin and would rip while doing this project and construction paper is too thick and you won’t be able to get the details of the leaves. I like to tape the leaves to the table especially for younger children. Make sure you tape them upside down, so that the veins are popping up towards the paper. Then place the paper over the leaves, and use the sides of the paperless crayons to rub over the leaves. You should see the outline of the leaves showing through. After they have done all three to five leaves you could move the leaves and repeat the process so that you fill the whole paper, or just leave the three to five that you had. I also like to put out the traditional colored crayons for the leaves like, red, orange, yellow, and brown.
Leaf Wreaths: (need: paper plates, fake or paper leaves, glue, ribbon or yarn.)For this project I like to use my cricut to cut out paper leaves for the kids, or I like to go buy fake leaves from the dollar tree. Then I cut the center out of a regular old fashioned paper plate. I flip it over so that the rounded side is towards me, and then I have them glue on the leaves whichever direction they would like to. Then I punch two wholes in the top, make sure to ask which way is the top, I have inadvertently put some of their wreaths upside down with out knowing it. I got yelled at by some of my littlest perfectionists. then thread a piece of ribbon or yarn through the wholes and tie the ends together at the top. This makes for a nice hanger for the wreath.
Tissue Paper Leaves: (need: Contact paper, red, yellow, orange, brown tissue paper, scissors, and construction paper if you desire.) First of all a warning this project requires a little prep on your behalf. I usually find any simple leaf image and blow it up to as big as I can make it on an 11 1/2 by 8 sheet of paper will allow. Then I cut it out and trace it onto the back of the contact paper until I have just enough for all my students, maybe one or two extra just in case on of them breaks, or gets stuck to itself. I also make sure I cut out 2″ squares of tissue paper. ( I usually like to have an aid to help me peal off the backs of the leaves) Then I let them stick the tissue paper to the leaf cut outs. I then take a full sheet of contact paper and adhere it to the back of the leaf, and cut around it again, to make sure the edges are smooth and you can tell what it is. 🙂 Quick note, I always keep a Sharpie Marker close to write the initials or names on the contact paper, pen, pencil, and washable marker don’t work very well on the contact paper.
Tissue Paper Fall Trees: ( need: Large White construction paper, brown paint, brushes, paint smocks, covers to hold a little bit of paint, cups to hold water, and brown, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper 2″ squares) This project cam about because I hate to buy something for a project and not use it all or have a second use for it. I bought this tissue paper for the other project, and wanted to have something to do with the rest, so I created this project. I have them paint a tree trunk and branches. I usually demonstrate before hand, but that doesn’t mean that it will turn out how we think it should look, but it will be unique to each student. You will have that perfectionist student whose tree looks just like yours, and then you will have the student who colors the whole paper brown, either is perfectly acceptable, and fun to see combined on a fall bulletin board. Quick note, that I did not include into my planning originally, was drying time for the tree trunks. After 9 years though, I would have the kids paint the trees, and then have free play, and then finish by gluing the tissue paper leaves on after play time. I have them bunch the tissue paper at the end of a pencil and then dab in a splotch of glue, and then glue onto their branches. I encourage them to put a few on the ground, because leaves fall in the fall. The kids have fun making the leaves fall on the ground and some even into the sky.
Leaf Animals: (need: Leaves from outside, glue, and markers.) This is a very simple project, but a lot of fun. I find that sometimes kids now days have so many gadgets and toys that meet their every need, that their is no need for an imagination, and many times I had to show kids how to play pretend. This project addresses that. I like to go outside and pick up oak leaves, maple leaves, and any other leaves that I can find. Then I bring them in and let them pick a few. (other wise you could take them on a nature walk again, and pick out some more leaves themselves.) Then I have them glue the leaves onto a paper. They can use one, two, or three leaves to create their own magic leaf creature. I let them use markers to add legs, eyes, nose, tails, and anything else they can imagine on them. You would be amazed to see what they can come up with.
The seasons of a tree: For this I read, “The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree.” Then we create a book of our own that they decorate their tress with cotton for snow, tissue paper leaves, green pom poms for summer, and we use green, and pink paint to make the spring.
Nature Walk: This is a simple way to go out and explore science first hand. I do this and we pick out the leaves for our art pictures. However, I use this chance to talk about leaves with the kids, we talk about the different shapes, and the different kinds of trees that the leaves come from.
Working Together: For this I go to the parents and encourage them to bring in a rake for each student. Then we go outside and rake up a big pile of leaves. We work on working together and sharing, and the joy of a job well done. The joy of a job well done, comes when they get to jump into a big pile of leaves together. I usually do a preemptive speech about making sure we don’t throw leaves, because they hurt when we get them in our eyes.
For Social Studies we talk about the different areas of the world and how the trees and leaves are different in each part of the world.
Books: “Last Leaf” “Autumn Leaves”, and “Leaf Man.” “We’re going on a Leaf Hunt”
Leaf Alphabet Match: leaf cut outs either bought or made, then I write out the letters they have learn one on each leaf in capitol and then the same letters, one on each leaf, but in lowercase. Then I spread them out at circle time, and they have to find the person who has the leaf that matches theirs. This also helps with communication and team work, and definitely works on letter recognition of both upper and lowercase letters. I have also made this a center for them to do during free play, if they want to. If I intend on using it for free play though, I make sure to laminate the leaves so that they don’t get destroyed quite as easily.
Language Experience Story: Write a story about raking the leaves and creating a leaf pile and jumping in it. For this particular LES, I try to focus on the steps, so I usually do this in a list form and number the steps. This way we work on sequential thinking. I also ask them to be descriptive and talk about the colors, and the feel of things, the sounds they hear as they jump in the leaves, etc.
Letter L: Tracing letter L’s, finding L’s on a leaf and circling, matching Capitol L’s to Lowercase L’s with lines.
Great Commission: I like to do this story of Jesus telling everyone, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, ” with this particular unit, because I focus on working together in our Social Unit, and we work together to spread God’s Word to all nations.
Colors: Work on recognizing the colors, red, orange, brown, and yellow.
Sorting: Sorting leaves by color, shape, and size. I like to use fake leaves, or paper leaves so I can make sure that each one of these things are covered, however it might also be fun, to just let the kids go out and find some leaves from outside and sort those. It would be interesting to find out some new ways to sort, maybe by whole leaves and partial leaves, or crunchy and not crunchy. These simple things that I tend to overlook, seem to be the things that they like to do the most sometimes.
Graphing: Graphing the leaves that we got on our nature walk by type. How many of each kind did we find and bring inside?
Patterning: For this I use leaf cut outs and have the children work on patterns with the leaves. If you want to make this into a project, you can Cut out strips of paper and attach the leaves on to them to make a leaf crown for all the kids.
Spacial Recognition: I Cut out some bigger leaves with my cricut. Then I laminate them, finally I cut it into puzzle pieces, I make enough that each kid can have their own puzzle, and then we swap. This works on their spatial recognition.
Leaf Play: For this I buy those dollar store fake leaves, or go to hobby lobby and pick up a bunch there, then I spread them out in our dramatic play area, and provide rakes, garbage bags, and buckets. Using these tools they can pretend to do yard work. Often times though I even bring the rakes outside and use them with the real leaves. The kids love that even more than just getting to do it in the dramatic play area, but they have fun doing that too. This is a new one I found on Amazon is pretty nice. Otherwise you might want to ask around and see if anyone of the parents have small children’s rakes, sometimes students have ones that they are willing to share with their classmates for the week. Then they feel like they are contributing to the classroom also.
Leaves: This may seem obvious, but to make it more interesting I hide other fall things in among the leaves that they can search for and re-hide for the next group. An example of things to hide would be pine cones, pine needle branches, acorns, corn cobs, Indian Corn cobs, sticks, and fancy rocks. (Make sure to announce at the beginning of the week not to put anything in their mouths. Make sure sticks and “branches” are also small enough they can’t swing around as swords or hurt each other.)
Raking Leaves: I know I have included this in other parts of my lesson plan, but honestly this works as a gross motor activity also, and ask any adult who has had to rake the leaves in a big yard, it can be very good exercise. For that reason I am including it in my Gross motor lesson plan too. I love anything that can multitask across the curriculum.
Leaves Sort: (need cut out colored leaves, preferably laminated to prevent damage, but not necessary, and colored baskets that match the leaves colors, or baskets that have ribbons of the correct colors around them) Goal: To work as a team to sort the leaves in the middle of the gym. Rules: Can only take one leaf at a time, and run it to the correct color basket. I give them a time frame and see if they can beat it. I usually do about 2 minutes, sometimes that is even too long. But it keeps them busy. If you want to mix things up you could also try changing what they do from running, to skipping, to hopping, to galloping, to sliding. This then works different muscles, and works on different skills. Plus it works on color recognition, and sorting. Like I said I am a huge fan of things that multi task.