Today we look back at Autumn and ask: What does Autumn mean for children?
Seasonal changes is a recurring theme which runs through many of our outdoor activities at Alphablocks Nursery School. The children began noticing changes in the weather from the middle of September and talked about it being rainy, or they noticed how the colours of the leaves transformed from deep greens to light yellows, gold, and brown. Warm colours of oranges and reds were to be found later on, during explorations in our sensory garden, our tall trees at the front, or indeed during our Forest School days out.
Some of the children put together an autumnal exploration tray that included a collection of leaves, conkers, acorns and many other objects which they collected and brought to school. They discussed textures and colours between them and with parents or teachers, and how the wind blows the conkers to the ground.
In order to enhance all these experiences with the careful observation and collection of natural objects in the woods, we planned and held a Forest School Day, when we we took the children to Trent Park. The materials we collected during the day were used as prompts for many more discussions and activities. We used them in the “construction area”, as well as for crafts in our “small world” play.
We also linked them with some of the stories we have been working on in our Bringing Stories to Life series of projects. Specifically, we used them in our learning activity using the ‘Leaf Man’, ‘The very Helpful Hedgehog’ and, of course, ‘The Gruffalo’. We prepared a Gruffalo trail through the woods on the day, so this really resonated!
It is amazing how using a simple theme but filtering it through the children’s interests one can cover so much, in terms of teaching. The possibilities for exploration and learning seem endless and children clearly enjoy trying to understand the world around them, learning about colours, seasons, and their changes. Using different materials to experiment with their qualities and textures, if they are heavy or not, if the float or sink in the water tray – all these things add direct and immediate experiences of learning for themselves. This, of course, is because of the fact that natural objects are open-ended resources that can be used in numerous ways in children’s play.
So, what is Autumn for our children? As a child put it to us when we asked this question, while they were kicking red-golden leaves on the ground, “it’s this!”
But, as we found out during these past months, it is also so much more.