Don’t you just love when items serve multiple purposes and children explore them in their own child-led way? This fall sorting activity for preschoolers is a great way to encourage children to learn about the fall season while creating their own rules about the materials at hand.
Be sure to check out all my best fall activities for preschoolers!
Sorting with Fall – Themed Items
Well, the pumpkin baked goods and the first cool day of fall has FINALLY come our way and we couldn’t wait to bring out some of our fun fall activities and materials.
I was strolling through a local craft store when I found these acrylic ‘gems’, (not beads) but rather designed more for table scatter and decor. I thought they would be perfect for a sensory bin for my preschoolers!
So I grabbed a few bags and made a simple and colorful fall sensory bin. It was a big hit! Kids loved interacting with these colorful gems, scooping and hiding them, counting, and sorting by size, and the best part…they didn’t even know how much they were learning!
And can I just add how much we love it when math play happens?
Before putting these fall gems away for the season, I decided to put them into a food tray (the classic divided tray that I use for our invitations to play) and this activity turned into a totally different experience for my preschoolers!
You read that right, these simple activity offers loads of math skills for your kindergarteners to practice. This might just be the very easiest preschool math activity for a fall theme, too.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT A FALL PRESCHOOL THEME
Fall is known for pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and apple picking. Bring some of these fun events into the classroom by taking a field trip to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. If a field trip is not in the cards, bring the apples and pumpkins into the classroom!
Carve jack-o-lanterns, plant pumpkin seeds, and enjoy a lovely picnic outside tasting different apple varieties. Explore nature and take your preschoolers out to find evidence of fall and create a fall nature collage (think acorns, pinecones, leaves, twigs, sticks, etc.)
Taste apple and pumpkin-flavored items like pumpkin pie and apple cider and invite children to graph their favorites. The fall season is loaded with perfect activities for preschoolers!
Teaching preschoolers about fall (or autumn) is such a fun time of the year. Share with the children that fall is one of the four seasons of the year and during the fall season, we transition from the hot days of summer to cooler fall days.
We begin the transition into winter! In many parts of the world, the leaves on the trees will begin to change color and the temperature begins to grow colder. During the fall, animals will start to prepare themselves for winter.
Fall is full of themes galore! From apples to pumpkins, leaves to life cycles, this is the perfect time of year to focus on the wonder and beauty of nature and gardening.
Consider a life cycles unit of an apple, pumpkin, or tree, perfect for including exciting science experiments with these natural elements. Since many areas may experience the leaves changing color or falling to the ground, learning about leaves provides another fun element in preschool. Remember to use your five senses as you experience your fall-themed activities!
FALL SORTING ACTIVITIES & INVITATION TO PLAY FOR PRESCHOOLERS
It’s so easy to create an invitation to play activity for preschoolers. It is one of the most well-loved and open-ended activities for preschoolers to participate in. They provide opportunities for creativity, problem-solving, and free exploration.
You can use any supplies you have on hand and the idea is to allow children to decide how they want to use the materials to create, decorate, manipulate, or design! Invitations to play are a must add to your fall ideas for preschool.
Possibilities might include:
- various craft supplies
- items from nature
- small preschool toys
- theme-based loose parts
There are so many reasons to allow for children to explore without parameters. Here are some skills your preschoolers can learn as they interact with this invitation to play/sorting activity:
- fine motor skills
- color matching and sorting
- spatial awareness
- problem solving
- basic algebraic skills
- social emotional skills (turn-taking, sharing, communication, etc.)
FALL SORTING ACTIVITY FOR PRESCHOOLERS
- fall-themed items (leaves (artificial or real), colored tissue paper, acorns, sticks, twigs, pinecones, fall beads, etc.
- divided food tray
This idea was born from a simple fall sensory bin… except it wasn’t totally my idea. My preschoolers took over this activity and made it their own and took these materials into their own hands…literally. What fun learning!
Simply place the fall-themed items in a setup that invites them to use the materials however they see fit. This could be in a divided food tray, little buckets or bins, or loosely spread around at a table.
You could choose to mix everything up in hopes that your preschooler naturally dives in to begin sorting out the materials.
I sometimes prefer to set up invitations to play in an organized manner. This helps the children organize their play and I believe their play can be more intentional with this set-up.
However, with this idea, I wanted to see what the children would do when presented with fall-themed materials with no sense of organization or order…and it was nice to have them do some extra clean up for me.
And the organization came. The preschoolers eventually began sorting and classifying all the items. Some sorted by color, others by type, and if you keep reading you’ll see how they even made up their own math games.
Related: Fall Math Activities for Preschoolers
The Exploration Stage
Once the materials have been provided, I allowed the students to dive in! I prefer to hang back initially and observe my students and note how they use the materials right away. Offering a tray like this is perfect for your fall math center.
Do they begin counting or sorting? Do they stack the items and try to build towers? Are they using any of the tools to engage differently with the items? Are they having any communication issues as they share and use the materials as a small group?
Once I step back and act more as a facilitator, I notice the children are beginning to feel comfortable using the loose parts and materials in their own way.
If this is your preschooler’s first experience with an invitation to play, they may not know what to do. In fact, when you say, “Go ahead and start to play,” some students might even ask, “How?” or “What are we supposed to do?”
This is ok! I just reply, “You can play with these materials however you would like as long as you are respectful.”
As soon as I gave them the green light to play, I noticed my students began to sort. Naturally sorting so that all the same item types were put together into categories – all the flowers together, all the colorful leaves, all the pumpkins, etc.
Hint: I’m also making a mental note to include these kinds of sorting activities in my sorting lesson plans for preschool.
I began chatting with them and asking them to share their thinking about what they were doing with the fall gems. I asked one child, “How are you using these materials?” She replied, “I am putting all the fallen leaves together in one spot so that the lion (a plastic animal snagged from another center) can jump in the pile and make a big mess!”
Such creativity, right?!
Another child shared that he was trying to stack as many pumpkins as he could but he was only able to stack two because they were too wobbly. I invited him to think about stacking the pumpkins in a different way. After a few failed attempts, he noted that it wasn’t possible and went on his way counting all the pumpkins (all the way to 23).
Questions to Ask to Extend the Learning
The real value of an invitation to play is in the conversations your preschooler has while playing. This can be between two preschoolers or between the child and teacher.
Ask your preschooler what he is doing, too, and why. “Why are you lining up those fall leaves?”
Ask your preschoolers “what will happen if” questions, like “What will happen if you try to stack the rounded pumpkins?”
- What do you think you can do with these materials?
- Can they be organized?
- Can you put all the red objects together?
- How can you build with these materials?
- Can you line up all the green gems in a row?
- How can you use these items to pretend?
Remember to let them have fun, do some free play, and let them explore. It’s fun watching how these little ones process things, it’s also important to remember kids need to learn from experiences and not just instructions. That’s something that will guarantee a fun activity this autumn.
And imagine the possibilities. You can make this an “all-natural” autumn activity by using only items the children have collected on a nature walk, or you can add craft items like pom poms.