Fall Is the Perfect Time for Getting Outdoors With Children!
Author: Julie Eastes
“The children love being outdoors. Notice how the home-based caregiver and educator create an opportunity for them to explore nature around them. Their eyes are focused on the plants and trees around them. Being able to examine nature up close sparks their curiosity and learning.”
Wyoming’s Coherent Path to Quality, Examples from Wyoming, page 44
Have you noticed that the trees in Wyoming spectacularly donned their fall colors this year? The first snowflakes fell in my neighborhood and on the mountains last week. Suddenly, dusk creeps up on us earlier each day. As a preschool teacher fall was one of my favorite seasons and I took every opportunity to go outside and explore. We went on field trips to parks or the mountain, put colorful leaves in the sensory table, collected rocks, leaves, sticks, and pinecones to study, bundled up and played in the snow, listened to the wind, looked at our shadows, and read favorite fall-themed books together.
Wyoming’s Coherent Path to Quality tells us exploratory learning experiences engage children in hands-on investigation and exploration. Seasonal changes invite children to use their senses as they play and learn outdoors. Think of all the ways to invite children to engage their senses this fall. The smells, sounds, textures, and brilliant colors all make the experiences meaningful and fun for children.
As the days get shorter and darker children will spend more time indoors. Instead, why not encourage families to grab flashlights and explore the outdoors together? Taking a walk at dusk with a flashlight can be a fun experience for all ages. Everything looks different with only a flashlight for illumination Listen to the crunch of the leaves underfoot, look for the moon, feel the cold on your face and hear the wind blow. What do you see inside the illuminated space from the flashlight?
After exploring outside, settle in and read a book about fall. There is a cornucopia of beautiful children’s books about fall to enjoy in the classroom and at home. The following list includes favorite fall books that you can find at a library or bookstore in your community.
Books to Share During Autumn:
Windows by Julia Denos Illustrated by E.B. Goodale (2017) “Before the town goes to sleep, you can take a walk, out your door and into the almost-night. You might pass a cat. Or a friend. And as you go down your street, around the corner, you might see the windows light up one by one, until it feels like you are walking through a neighborhood of paper lanterns. And you can imagine.”
Walking through the neighborhood after dark is a great way to celebrate seasonal changes with children. Don’t forget to take a flashlight! (Ages 3 and up)
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd (2014)
This wordless book tells a magical story as a child explores the night woods with a flashlight. Children can actively engage with the illustrations as they find a forest coming to life in the darkness. After sharing this book, grab a flashlight, head outside, and let children illuminate their surroundings. (Ages 2 and up)
Owl Babies by Marin Wadell Illustrated by Patrick Benson (2002)
Owl Babies is the perfect book for any season but owls are more vocal and active in the fall. Taking an evening walk outdoors might result in hearing or even seeing owls. The owl babies in the story wake up in the night to find their mother missing. The three siblings are afraid of what might be lurking in the dark so they had to be brave.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (2005)
“Where a Leaf Man will land, only the wind knows. So listen for a rustle in the leaves.” Maybe you’ll find a Leaf Man waiting to go home with you.
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert (1991)
“By late summer, the crown of leaves is bushy and green. I love it when the tree flowers turn into winged seeds. But if you want to visit my tree, come in the fall. That’s my favorite time. Can you guess why?” A work of art and a story about the life of the maple tree, this is a timeless fall classic! (Ages 4-7)
Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf (2013)
On a trip to the farmers market, Sophie chooses a squash but instead of becoming dinner, it becomes her best friend. This delightful fall story is about a girl with a huge imagination as she learns about friendship and the life cycle of a squash!
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry Illustrated by The Fan Brothers (2019)
“Autumn sunshine. Haystacks rolled. Scarecrow guards the fields of gold. No one enters. No one dares. Scarecrow stands alone and scares the fox and deer, the mice and crows. It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” (Ages 3-7)
Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming (1997)
“Bear sniffed once. She sniffed twice. “I smell winter in the air”, said Bear. “It is time to crawl into my cave and sleep. But first I must tell Snail.” A bear is concerned for his friends as winter approaches and tells a snail to get ready. Each creature, in turn, warns another until the forest creatures are safely tucked in for the winter. (Ages 2-4)