It’s that time of year again. With a slight chill in the air and the first leaves beginning to change, it is time to say goodbye to the warm summer days and settle into a school time weekday routine. It is hard to say goodbye to the adventures of summer, and if you have both school aged and younger children at home, you know that the Fall is a period of adjustment for the entire family. As you send your oldest children off to school, keep your toddler and preschool aged children engaged by exploring all the sensory experiences that the Fall season has to offer.
Toddlers and young children use their senses to learn about the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing and moving within their environment. Research shows that providing your child different sensory experiences helps to support their cognitive development, language development, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, social skills, body awareness, and emotional intelligence.
Fall is bursting with sights, smells, sounds and textures that facilitate learning for young children. Something as simple as taking a nature walk and pointing out the chill in the air, the sound that the leaves make crunching underfoot, and the many different leaf colors can be a learning experience for your little one. Keep the fun going by collecting leaves and making colorful leaf art at home.
Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard with your child. Have them pick up different sized pumpkins or apples and compare them by weight, texture (smooth, bumpy), shape and color. At home, help your child scoop out the inside of their pumpkin. Ask them, “how does this smell?”, and “how does this feel?”. Have your child separate out the seeds, help roast them and taste them when they are done. Encourage your child to try the different types of apples they’ve picked and compare them by taste. Help your little one make a special apple dessert, or applesauce to share with the family.
Take your child to the local farm or petting zoo, to pet the
animals or enjoy a pony ride. Have your child talk about what they see, hear, smell,
and touch. As they pet and feed each animal, ask your child, “how does the fur
feel?” or, “what sound does this animal make?”. You can take learning a step further by
asking what the different farm animals need to grow and be happy. Watch farm
equipment in action, sit on a hay bale, or walk through a corn maze. The
sensory learning opportunities are endless on the farm.
Continue the sensory learning at home by creating an Autumn sensory bin. Consider a bin filled with dry oatmeal, cinnamon sticks and small miniature craft apples of different sizes. Don’t forget the scoops and buckets. Your preschooler will love stirring the oats and apples with their cinnamon sticks and dumping them back into the bin. Create a harvest bin with un-popped corn kernels, farm animal figures and farm toys, or a simple cranberry bin, with cranberries, water and scoops. Find more Fall sensory bin ideas with a quick internet search. With so many wonderful ideas at your fingertips, your Autumn sensory bin is sure to be a hit!
Whether at home or out and about, the sights, the sounds, the
smells and tastes of Autumn are sure to provide a sensory rich learning
experience for your child. So, as the weather turns chilly and the leaves begin
to fall, bundle up, grab some apple cider and get outside to explore the senses