Let Them Grow: Feeling Fall
Fall is such a busy time for the valley. Apple picking, pumpkin patches, hay rides, and fall festivals. All of these adventures are well worth the visit, but you can also get your kids engaged with nature based craft and sensory activities that are easy and inexpensive. Here are a few:
You can use any fruits or veggies for prints. When doing veggie prints I find it best to use a small tray with only a dab of paint on it. Using too much will distort the prints and ink-pads can develop mold. I find that using tempera paint in small amounts is ideal. Allow your child to dab or roll the fruit and then splat it firmly onto the print paper (card stock or cardboard). I find that apple, lemon, and corn prints to be some of my favorites. I like the detailed prints that onions create, but they can really burn the eyes. Combining apples and lemons makes a wildly vibrant and vivid print.
Toddlers love industrious work. Let them enjoy the print making, but also exploring the fruit, taking out the seeds and even tasting it!
Dry corn is easy to find during the fall. There is nothing like driving your hand elbow-deep in dry corn kernels. You can get a large bag at Easthampton Feed and other local retailers. Corn is an excellent sensory table activity, but should remain dry. You can set up a farm scene in there – driving the imagination toward feeding the animals and steering the tractor. Add small scoops and funnels for the kids to dig and dump the corn!
Thank you to Northampton’s local florist, Nuttlemans, for donating their discarded flowers for our daycare’s fall projects. Tearing, ripping, and crumbling plants is not something a toddler is always allowed to do; often we are teaching them to be kind to the plants. But with dry flower projects, children can enjoy the sensory experience and the satisfaction of ripping them to bits.
Use a paintbrush and small amounts of glue (because they dump) for younger children and a squeeze bottle of glue for older toddler and preschoolers and let your child create a masterpiece that brings out the best of fall.
Setting up the activities outside can help with the mess and allow for more impromptu additions to the print-making or sensory table. We try to make the best of Fall, as it contains the last months of unlimited outside time, hindered only by the setting sun!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hands-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a daycare in Northampton, MA.