Are you in search of nature-inspired science activities for toddlers, but also suitable for preschoolers? Try this fall science center that lets kids of all ages explore the vibrant colors, fresh scents, varied textures, and captivating sounds of the beloved autumn season. This is a a super easy fall science center to keep with all your other fall activities for preschoolers.
Think of it as a special fall science experience designed with toddlers in mind! But I promise, preschoolers will love it too!
This science activity for toddlers is about as easy as it gets, but it is punched full of science learning that is just right for toddlers.
Try this to create an exciting fall science activity for both toddlers and preschoolers by setting up a science center with natural items and a magnifying glass.
Students use the magnifying glass to examine pine cones, leaves, pumpkins, gourds, and dried corn to examine them up close. They can touch, smell, and observe the vibrant colors, making it a sensory adventure for toddlers.
This versatile activity engages children of different ages and helps them appreciate the beauty of nature while enhancing their observational skills, a key skill for any scientist!
This fall science center fits in perfectly with our Cozy Fall Math and Literacy Printables.
Fall Science Center for Toddlers
Don’t be fooled into thinking this learning center is too simple. Your toddlers and preschoolers will learn so much, and all of it in a natural and playful way!
What to Put in a Science Center for Preschool
This science activity really works on our toddlers’ observation skills.
These items listed above are not all required. Just pick and choose what you have readily available.
The key to making this into a favorite fall activity for your toddlers is to offer a variety of items with a variety of textures. This will add to the sensory piece toddlers love.
The Set Up
This part is simple. Just find a bin and place everything inside it. I like to use old Melissa and Doug toy bins. Place like items together.
They will get all mixed up with use, but then your toddlers can practice matching materials and sorting them when they are done playing for the day.
Fall Science Activities for Preschoolers and Toddlers
This is a super easy science center, but it can harness the wonders of nature. It is a captivating fall science activity that not only fascinates preschoolers but also engages the curious minds of toddlers.
Using these iconic outdoor and nature inspired items is sure to encourage exploration and discovery.
Toddler Science and Sensory Activities
Usually, the first thing a preschooler does is grab the magnifying glass to look closely at the materials. This toddler is looking closely at a pine cone, which she reports to be pokey on her fingers and black on the inside.
There are three different kinds and sizes of pine cones, and she looks at each one, doing her best to identify and put into words what she sees. These observations are important and part of how toddlers learn science.
Toddlers and preschoolers love to use magnifying glasses. In fact, they are one of my favorite science tools to use with all our toddler science activities.
Preschool Fall Science
I also offered this science activity to my preschool class. One of my preschoolers commented on how bumpy it is, that she thinks it’s weird looking, and asks, “Can we eat it like a pumpkin?”
This is a good question for her to ask, and shows how she is making connections to other experiences she has had with things that are similar.
She also talked about how she likes the color, and then wonders aloud is pumpkins can also be “white-ish, yellowish.”
These questions give me guidance on how I should expand the fall science center to help her answer her questions.
Science Sensory Activities for Toddlers
Another toddler lined up all the gourds so she could look closely at each of them. She discovered they are different colors and different textures.
By handling them she also commented on how some of they are heavier than others. And then she picked up the gourd that has begun to dry out and the excitedly shakes it to listen to the seed rattle inside. “It makes noise!”
Then she stopped and looked at the gourd, picked up another and shook it. “Why doesn’t this one rattle?” The second gourd hadn’t dried out yet, so it didn’t rattle, but this discovery lead us into learning about the things that make up a gourd.
This toddler looks at all the pine cones and carefully lines them up.
He is young enough that he still doesn’t consistently identify big or small, but placing them in a line is how is organizes the materials and categorizes them, which is part of being a scientist.
He is identifying that three pine cones are different from the other items in the wooden boxes.
Science and Sensory Activities for Fall
And let’s not forget the dried corn tassels. Here are some things that happened with them:
- They can be used for tickling classmates.
- If they are mishandled, they will crumble and fall apart.
- If they are purposely crumbled, they make a big mess like confetti.
- They make noise as they move.
These were a favorite of my younger toddlers.
This sensory experience shows them that whole things can be taken apart and made into pieces and smaller parts. They were messy. They were picked it apart and sprinkled in the bin and on the floor.
Tips for Doing Science Activities with Toddlers
Toddler science can be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep you going.
- Keep things simple.
- Science aligns closely to play ideas and sensory experiences.
- Keep the mess contained by using bins.
- Or, take the mess outside or place a king-size flat sheet under the science center.
Fall Science Activities for Preschool
Teaching kids science is so fun! From sink or float science activities to baking soda and vinegar, here are a few easy science activities to keep your kids exploring.
- Fall Science and Math Center
- Pumpkin Science Center
- Investigating Seeds Science Center
- Bubbling Pumpkins
- Seeds Fall Science Center
- magnifying glasses
- pine cones
- corn tassels
- fall leaves
- mini pumpkins
- The materials listed above are suggestions. You can use any fall items that you have on hand or that you and the kids collect on a nature walk (or from the playground).
- Offer a variety of items with a variety of textures. This will add to the sensory piece toddlers love.
- Find a bin and place everything inside it. Place like items together.
- Invite your toddlers and preschoolers to play, explore, and investigate. I like to model using the magnifying glass and encourage the children to observe the items with and without the magnifying glass.
- Talk with your toddlers and preschoolers as they explore. Prompt them with questions or ask them to tell you about what they are observing.
- Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up! Clean up time gives opportunities for the children to use skills such as matching and sorting materials.
You can set your science center up in a way that makes the most sense to you. Here are my suggested steps to follow:
Tips for Doing Science Activities with Toddlers:
- Keep things simple.
- Keep in mind that Science aligns closely with play ideas and sensory experiences.
- Keep the mess contained by using bins, trays, etc.
- If able, take the mess outside or place a king-size flat sheet under the science center.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.