I’m so excited to share this post because this week preschool co-op was packed with learning fun! This was the first week of a new unit, which meant a new theme and new activities. It was almost equally as fun just planning the week!
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Sensory Bin – As always, I put together a sensory bin for some tactile exploration of our autumn theme. I dyed rice read, orange, yellow, and brown to correlate with our discussion of fall colors. I arranged the rice in rows and then added decorative pine cones, acorns, and pumpkins, like these Assorted Decorative Fall Artificial Pumpkins and Gourds with Natural Pine Cones. In the center of the bin is a pile of leaves, some made out of a clear plastic, like these Table Scatter Leaves, and some that are actually Fall Leaves Confetti.
Nature Walk – After reading a book about fall and a short discussion, I took the students on a walk in my neighborhood. Each student carried their own brown lunch bag and collected signs of autumn. Where we live in the Northwest, we can just begin to see signs of autumn. I was impressed at how many different items the students were able to collect so early in the season.
Scented Play Dough – This fine motor activity could also be categorized under writing. I made cinnamon and hazelnut scented play dough. We shared sensory experiences related to autumn, like the weather turning cold, jumping in leaves, eating soup and homemade bread. Students also learned that autumn is associated with specific fragrances, such as cinnamon and hazelnut.
Autumn Themed Books
We read the following books this week:
Sensory Bins – This continues to be one of the students’ favorite ways to learn about the related theme. The combination of rice and hard plastic leaves provided for some sound exploration as well, since the rice makes an interesting clinking sound when poured over the other items in the bin.
Collecting Signs of Autumn – Our nature walk provided the perfect setting to teach the students first hand about what trees and other plants do in the fall. Since we went for this walk after reading some books, the students were more able to solidify new information they’d learned. They were so interested to see seed on plants getting ready to fall off, and trees that were just turning colors.
Examination of Leaves – I chose to laminate some fresh leaves I’d picked from my yard, knowing that we’d use them frequently throughout the unit. The students used magnifying glasses to examine the leaves, pointing out the various colors, shapes, and designs on each leaf. We held the leaves up to the window to examine the veins, and followed up this activity by reading the book I Am A Leaf by Jean Marzollo, which does a fantastic job of explaining at a preschooler’s level what changes tress undergo during autumn.
Phonemic Awareness Skills: Blending Syllables – Students learned how to blend syllables into words. Some words can be divided into parts (syllables), and students practiced putting those parts together to make a word. The dialogue sounded like this:Me: Listen to the word: tiger. I hear two parts in the word tiger. I hear ti-ger. (I open up my right, then left hands/arms for each syllable to show the two parts). If I smoosh them together, the word is tiger. (Then I clap).
The dialogue continues with other practice words.Me: How about the word cup-cake? (Showing opening hands/arms for each syllable). Students: (clap) Cupcake!
Phonics: Letter Rr – Students learned to identify the letter Rr and it’s sound. I printed and laminated several color photos beginning with the /r/ sound. Examples: rain, rainbow, rabbit, raccoon, rhinoceros, ring, ruler and robot. Students practiced saying each picture name, emphasizing the /r/ sound. Students practiced identifying if a word began with the /r/ sound or with another sound.
Students also practiced differentiating the /r/ and /s/ sounds by doing a picture sort for initial sounds and by holding up the correct letter card (Rr or Ss) to show which sound they heard at the beginning of a set of words.
Students also put together a letter R puzzle I’d made from wallet sized photos, the same pictures as the photos used in the direct instruction phonics lesson. Click Letter Rr Puzzle Template to make your own.
One to One Correspondence–We sang Five Little Ducks from Everything Preschool to practice one to one correspondence. A participating mom printed off ten clip art ducks from online, colored and laminated them. We practiced one to one correspondence by singing the song counting down from ten instead of five.
Graphing…and Sorting – Students sorted Decorative Fall Silk Leaves and then graphed our result on the kitchen floor. First we sorted by color, since that is always the easiest for children. Then I opened a short discussion about other ways we could organize the leaves. We then sorted by shape and size, and graphed each sort.
Finally, the students practiced more one to one correspondence by counting how many leaves fell into the different categories. This opened up a great discussion about measurement as the students learned about how the tallest lines usually had the most leaves, and the shortest lines usually had the least.
Leaf Counting Books – I got this idea from Living Montessori Now‘s post Autumn Leaf Unit. Instead of using silk leaves, the students did fingerprints, which turned out to be a great fine motor activity. I originally wanted to line up the tress to demonstrate that higher numbers equal higher amounts of leaves, but that proved to be three nad a half sheets of paper taped together to make a banner over three feet long. Not handy for mom and dad to hang.
So, instead we made counting books. To my surprise the students were even more excited about making books than a huge banner. At the bottom right of each page is a number to guide the students in counting the correct number of leaves (counting from one on the first page to ten on the last page).
Name Practice – I used Hand Writing Worksheets .com to create a name writing practice worksheet for each student.
Scissor Cutting – Student cut out simple leaf shapes using fun edged scissors.
Button Letters – This is another excellent fine motor activity. Using the same template for play dough letters, students used buttons to write the letters Rr.
Coming Next Week
- Blending syllables
- Letters Mm, Ss, and Rr review
- autumn lacing and craft activities
- autumn theme discovery box
- patterns and sequencing
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.