The colder weather now has provided many opportunities for exploring change and autumn.
In the garden the children noticed how the leaves have fallen off the trees and onto the ground. We had lots of fun throwing them up in the air and watching them fall again. We helped each other gather them into big piles, using wheelbarrows and buckets to collect them. The children worked really well together and helped carry the bucket, one handle each. We studied the leaves, noticing that they are no longer green and talked about the colours yellow, brown and orange.
In small groups we went on a short adventure to the front of the nursery to see if we could find any other colours. Here the children pointed to the leaves on the ground and shouted “red one”! Some children also noticed purple leaves. We brought back lots of leaves to the room and put them into the empty sand tray for further investigation. Throughout this exploring, lots of descriptive language was used and we heard words like ‘crunchy’, ‘wet’ and ‘cold’. Quantities were also mentioned – “there’s lots over here!” and we compared different sized piles of leaves.
As well as leaves, some children brought in more items they found whilst on walks at home. We had pine cones, acorns and conkers. During circle time we took turns holding each item, describing the texture and what we thought it was. We used conkers for a couple of mark making activities; outside in the black tray we put down some paper and rolled the conkers through paint, watching as they made different lines and as different colours mixed together.
We also painted the conkers with our autumnal colours, put a hole in them and threaded them with string for decoration. This threading activity challenged the children’s fine motor skills as they held the conker still with one hand and fed the string through with the other. We used some of the leaves we had collected to make autumn pictures and to make this activity sensory, we added cinnamon powder to brown paint and encouraged them to smell it as they printed with the leaves.
The children really enjoyed this addition so we made play dough together, with the extra ingredient of cinnamon. Some of the children remembered the smell from the paint. Using their imagination, they made ‘gingerbread men’ and lots of different sized cakes. As well as furthering imagination and language, play dough is useful for strengthening muscles in the hands, which develop the fine motor skills that children use to hold pencils and gain more control of these tools.
For more on the benefits of play dough check out this newsfeed on our pre-school dough gym here.
Pumpkins were brought in for the children to explore; many of them shouted “pumpkin” as soon as they saw them. We sat around the table and the pumpkin was cut open from the top, so that when the ‘lid’ was lifted, the children could see the inside and the seeds. Some children enjoyed this as messy play, putting their hands inside to clean it and scoop out all the seeds. We saved these seeds and also put them out as a resource with play dough and made our own pumpkin pictures.
The children were aware that pumpkins are orange, so they chose this tissue paper and glued it to black paper with seeds. The activity allowed children to use their creativity as they could use as much or as little as they wanted. Some pictures had lots of orange paper with few seeds whereas others had mostly seeds. The children were really proud of what they had made and enjoyed pointing at them, saying, “that’s my pumpkin”.
Some children told us they had pumpkins at home with lights in them, so we decided together we would carve a dragonfly (our room name) into one of ours. When it was ready, all the lights were turned off and we were really excited to see our pumpkin lit up in the dark. For our other pumpkin they were given the choice of how to decorate it; Kitty and Esmee looked through the drawers and in the cupboard and picked out lots of sequins. With the help of their friends and lots of glue, we had another pumpkin carefully decorated with sequins.