Pumpkins are one of the items you will see during harvest time. The playdough at the sensory table has the smell of pumpkin pie. Students make their own pumpkins and pies or use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. I add alphabet shapes because everyone knows P is for pumpkin! The recipe is easy and uses ingredients found in most every kitchen.
½ cup salt
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil (coconut oil works great)
What you do
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan.
Add food coloring to the water to get a pumpkin color.
Add colored water and coconut oil to dry ingredients.
Stir over heat until dough is pliable.
Once playdough is cool enough, kneed in:
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of cloves
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
Allow to cool and store in a well sealed plastic bag or container.
The best way to teach preschoolers is to use a hands on curriculum. In the science field that can get messy. Autumn leaves are colorful, but fragile and make it hard to view them first hand in the classroom. I use Discovery Bottles to keep them from crumbling and yet, allow students to get a close up view of the leaves.
I added a few glittery leaves to the bottles to make them more intriguing.. Magnifying glasses are nearby for an even closer look.
Explaining seasons is often a difficult thing to do with preschoolers. Adults sometimes teach misconception that the seasons on the Earth are caused by varying distances of the Earth from the Sun. It is important to note that when it is Summer in the Northern hemisphere it is Winter in the Southern. Our seasons can be more correctly determined by the earth’s equinox and Solstice. This is easier to study with young students if you simply point out the changes that happen around them during each change. Weather helpers, charts and local traditions often help point the way.
Although Autumn started at the end of September this year in the Northern hemisphere, it is easier to SEE the season now. Harvest time has ended and the produce is all around us. Most of us are wearing long sleeves and coats. I start by changing the sticky board to go with the fingerplay Five Little Pumpkins:
Five little pumpkins sitting by the gate
The first one said, “Oh my it’s getting late.”
The second one said, “There are leaves in the air.”
The third one said. “We don’t care.”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run, run, run!”
The fifth one said, “This is so much fun!”
Then ooo went the wind and out went the light
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
The students can later build their own fences and arrange the leaves and pumpkins as a center activity.
The light table was another area for children to use their imagination while counting and testing their manipulative skills this month. Small laminated bats could be placed in the tree or fly around the moon. Bats, moon and background are made out of tissue paper. This allows the light to shine through for a night time effect. Tree branches are fashioned from brown masking tape for the bats to hang on.
While some children recited “Five Black Bats”, others talked about bats being nocturnal and looking for bugs in the dark. A good opportunity for dictation that could lead to a journal activity.
I add spiders to this theme because they, too, are pegged this time of the year as being creepy. It is just something about those eight legs that seems to give everyone the shivers. Interestingly enough, they not only have eight legs, but eight eyes. They are arachnids, not insects. Other members of the arachnid family include scorpions, mites, ticks and harvestmen and they are found on every continent of the world except Antarctica.
There are around 40000 different species of spider. (Yikes!) Most spiders make silk which they use to create spider webs and capture prey. Tarantulas are large and often hairy spiders, the biggest species have been known to kill mice, lizards and birds. Arachnophobia is an abnormal fear of spiders. (I think I feel a wave of it coming on right now!) Most spiders are harmless to humans but a few spider species, such as the black widow, can bite humans and inject venom. Deaths from spider bites are rare, however.
We start circle time with a version of an old round song The Itsy Bitsy Spider:
♫ The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout.
Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again. ♫
♫ The very smart spider peeked up the water spout.
Down came the rain, and the spider cried “Look out!”
Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain,
And the very smart spider peeked up the spout again. ♫
The library has books about spiders and their web structures. Geo Boards and yarn are on hand so little humans can try making webs. We must respect spiders for their place in the circle of life even if they are a little scary.