Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book of the Day Activities: Autumn Trails

Last Tuesday as I was taking my dog for a walk and stopped dead in my tracks. Wait a minute! Something looked different! Hmmm.....although the lawn was still summer green, it was speckled with yellow leaves (*gasp*)! Could fall be here already? But wait! I wanted to take one more dip in the pool. And I didn't get to wear that green sundress I bought on sale! Urgghhh...what about that cookout that I've been wanting to have? Those sparsely sprinkled leaves on my lawn reminded me of all those things I was planning to do this summer; but I realize that I can't stop Mother Nature so I may as well get on the bandwagon. Here are a few books and activities that will help you ease into the autumn season:

Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

  • Leaf Journals: Choose a tree near the school's playground. One that the children will see every day. Have the children observe it on a regular basis (once or twice a week) and draw pictures in their leaf journals. The children and teachers should take photographs of the tree as well. This project could last several weeks into the beginning of winter when the tree becomes bare!
  • Coffee Filter Leaves: Cut coffee filters in the shape of leaves. Give students eyedroppers (like these from Discount School Supply) and small cups of red and yellow liquid water color (or you can add food coloring to water). Students add red and yellow to their leaves a few drops at a time to create a design.
  • Color Mixing: Add red and yellow food coloring to the water table. Before doing so, discuss with the children what they think (predict) will happen. Also add red and yellow paint to the easel to continue encourage color mixing.
  • Finger Painting: Cut finger paint paper into the shape of leaves. Give students red finger paint and yellow finger paint. Allow them to blend the colors and create orange
  • Red Box, Yellow Box: Go to your local Dollar Store and purchase a red container and a yellow container (or: cover two cardboard boxes, one with yellow paper and one with red). Have children sort objects by color. As home activity, each night choose two students to take one of the boxes home and fill it with a few objects of the corresponding color. The next day, have the pair of students show the rest of the class (during circle time) what they found.
  • Leaf Prints: Have children paint the vein side of several leaves and place them on top of paper to make a print. (Source: Scholastic)

Why Do Leaves Change Colors? By Betsy Maestro
  • Leaf Hunt: Go outside and collect leaves that have already fallen. Observe the trees and look for leaves that are beginning to change colors. The teacher should photograph the tree (perhaps once or twice a week) so that the students can see the gradual changes. Make a class book of the tree.
  • Fiction or Non-Fiction: Discuss the difference between a story book and an information book. Explain why this book is a non-fiction or information book.
  • Evergreens: Look near and around your outdoor environment and show children which trees are evergreens.
  • Leaf Identification: Find out what trees are native to the area around your school and neighborhoods. The teacher should find images online of those leaves and print them out to create a chart to hang in the classroom (like the one to the right from Treehuggingfamily.com). When children find leaves encourage them to use the chart to identify them!
  • Leaf Paper: Place leaf-shaped paper at the easel and writing areas to encourage creative expression.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

  • Leaf Rubbing: After collecting a few leaves, show children how to find the side with the vein. Have them turn the leaf, vein side up, and place paper on top of the leaf. then take a crayon and rub it over the leaf to make an impression of the leaf.
  • Leaf Art: After finishing the leaf rubbings (above), encourage the students to use the leaves and other nature items to make leaf people like those in the story.
  • Leaf Collage: Have children draw a tree trunk (or they can cut one from brown construction paper) and glue real leaves onto the tree.
  • Leaf Cookies: Use refrigerated cookie dough and leaf cookie cutters to make leaf shaped cookies. Children can lightly "paint" their cookies with clean paint brushes and water (or milk) colored with food coloring (tip: remind children not to wet cookies too much).

When Autumn Comes by Robert Maass
  • Autumn Leaves Song (to the tune of London Bridges): Here is an oldie and I am unsure of it's original source
Autumn leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down,
Autumn leaves are falling down, to the earth below.
Watch them as they dance and whirl, dance and whirl, dance and whirl
Watch them as they dance and whirl
It's autumn time!
  • Dancing Leaves: Put on some upbeat classical or jazz music and have students pretend to dance like leaves floating off of a tree.
  • Pressed Leaves/Leaf Suncatcher: Place a few leaves between paper towels or wax paper. Put the paper towel or waxed paper between large books (such as telephone books). Take the pressed leaves and place them between two pieces of clear contact paper or laminating paper. Punch a hole in the top and add a string or ribbon at the top.

Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert
  • Gray Squirrel Poem: This is another poem I've used for so long that I do not know it's author or origin -
Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel
Swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel
Swish your bushy tail.
Wrinkle up your funny nose
Hold a nut between your toes.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel
Swish your bushy tail.
  • Squirrel Mini-Science Unit: Learn about squirrels, their habitat, diet, etc. National Geographic is a great place to start!
  • Squirrel and Nut Matching Game: Find a squirrel pattern such as this one and an acorn pattern such as this one. For this game, choose what skill you want to reinforce. You can make the squirrels and acorns match using upper/lower case letters, colors, numbers, etc. Laminate the patterns and have the children match the squirrel with the appropriate acorn. For example: a blue squirrel would match with a blue acorn or a squirrel with an upper case A would match with an acorn with a lower case a.
  • Science Table: Add a variety of leaves and/or acorns to the Science/Discovery Center for observation. Provide magnifying glasses and reference books.
  • Nuts About Patterns: Cut leaves and/or acorns in 3-4 different colors and have students make simple A-B-A-B or A-A-B-A-A-B patterns and glue them on paper or a long sentence strip. Example: red leaf, yellow leaf, red leaf, yellow leaf, etc OR red leaf, red leaf, yellow leaf, red leaf, red leaf, yellow leaf, etc. Hang the leaf patterns on a bulletin board titled We Are Nuts About Patterns!
Bonus Book of the Day for Teachers: Since several of the titles above are by Lois Ehlert I thought I would add this book to the list. I don't own it and have not used it personally but I know it may be of interest to my readers. If you have this book share your thoughts with us: Teaching With Favorite Lois Ehlert Books: Engaging, Skill-Building Activities That Introduce Basic Concepts, Develop Vocabulary, and Explore Favorite Science Topics by Pamela Chanko

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