Posted by: Jacquie Fisher   

Invitation to Explore: Nature in the Fall

I'm so excited because I have proof that Fall is coming!  If you're still suffering through the lingering summer heat, I know you're with me when I say that I can't WAIT for the cooler temps.

But look what I found -- colored leaves, acorns that have fallen to the ground and mums!  Ahhh, signs of Fall.

 

This week's linky will Discover & Explore Fall Activities. 

We're also introducing our first Invitation to Explore. 

An Invitation to Explore is a way to encourage children to discover something new and look deeper into a topic that interests them.  They are easy to set-up and adapt for kids of all ages.

One of my favorite things about these invitations is that they inspire discussions.  Many times, kids will ask questions about the items, sometimes science or math-related inquires and other times the questions will relate to family, history or the world around them.  They are a wonderful way to inspire learning and family connections.

 

 Creating a Fall Nature Tray

Invitation to Explore: Nature in the Fall

There are so many fun ways to enjoy the season and one of the biggest changes kids will notice is what is happening in nature.

For this invitation, you will need to go on a nature scavenger hunt and round up a variety of items.  The items can then be displayed in a basket or on a tray for the kids to explore.

I decided to gather the items while the kids were at school so it would be a surprise when they got home.

 

 Invitation to Explore Nature in the Fall

Items to Include in Your Nature Tray:

You will be able to find items for this tray in your yard, at a park or even in your kitchen.  The idea is to display natural items that will lead to a discussion about the seasonal changes that take place in the Fall. 

Here's a quick list of what I included:

  • A variety of shapes and colors of leaves (the more, the better as you'll see below)
  • Tree seeds -- acorns, pinecones, spiny bur 
  • Tree fruits -- crab apples, hedge apples (osage oranges)
  • Whole spices that remind us of fall - cinnamon & nutmeg
  • Blooms of mum flowers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Plastic knife

I would have liked to include some tree pods but none have fallen yet.  Also, please remember to return all the items back to your yard or park when you are done exploring as the animals will need them this fall!

 

Exploring Leaves in the Fall

Quick Learning Ideas

There are a few things that kids will notice right away such as different color and shaped leaves.  You can begin by discussing colors and shapes for some quick learning.  Have them sort leaves into groups (by color or shape) and also count the items if you have younger kids who are mastering their counting skills.

And here is where the questions will begin -- why are leaves different shapes?  Why do some turn yellow and others turn red?

As kids ask these questions, they are exploring science -- it's so easy!  This is a great opportunity to discuss how we use leaves and seeds to identify different types of trees.  Take a walk back to the areas where you gathered the leaves & seeds so you can help kids identify the different trees.

If you'd like a book to go with the activity, I would recommend the following:

Count Down to Fall for younger kids (ages 2 - 5) and

 

Awesome Autumn for older kids (ages 5 - 11)

One of the questions that arose during our exploration was -- can we eat acorns?  Hmmm...good question!  We eat other types of nuts so why not acorns -- we're now researching to find the answer.

 

Invitation to Explore Nature in the Fall

Connecting with Nature

The variety of tree seeds and fruits will naturally lead to learning about size, weight and even smell!  Let the kids hold the items and sniff them too. 

Ask the kids which is heavier -- could a squirrel carry all the items up a tree or would they need to break them apart on the ground first?  What items could easily be blown around by the wind?

You could also experiment with a sink or float experiment by placing the items in a shallow tub of water -- you might be very surprised at the results!

 

Exploring Nature in the Fall

If the kids are older, have them dissect the items in the tray. For younger children, have adults cut open some of the items.

This was a huge hit at our house!  When you cut open a crab apple or peel away the outer shell of an acorn, they have a great scent.  The inside of a hedge apple looks similar to a kiwi (who knew?!)  We broke open the cinnamon stick and nutmeg and Wow!  Amazing smells! 

 

Encouraging Little Scientists

Inspiring Kids to Explore

One of the biggest draws is always the science equipment and it doesn't have to be anything big or complicated.  A simple magnifying glass will let kids get an up close view of the veins on a leaf and the details of a nut.  And it's also a great way to introduce them to items that real scientists use (and likely, things they will use as they enter junior and senior high school one day!).

So there you have it -- Simple, easy and engaging ways to explore the season!

 

If you're looking for a more ideas of ways to celebrate the season, make sure to hop over to our printable list of 40 Awesome Autumn Activities for inspiration.

 

You're Turn to Share!

We'd love to see all your fun fall ideas -- please share any crafts, activities, recipes and other awesome Autumn items!

 

Make sure to visit all our co-hosts for more fun ideas this week:

Fantastic Fun & Learning    ***    Buggy & Buddy

  Teach Preschool    ***    Two-daloo

 

Please read the following guidelines for sharing:

  • Share family-friendly posts related to the weekly topic -- kids activities, crafts, recipes, nature outings, printables, etc.
  • By linking up, you are giving me permission to share your post including one photo in our weekly feature post and on social media channels.
  • Visit 2-3 other posts that have linked up, find some new ideas & meet new friends!
  • If you'd like, grab a button for your post -- we love to share and want to find lots of great activities to highlight for you!
  • Each of the host blogs will feature some of the outstanding posts the week following the linky!

Upcoming Topics:

September 18th - 5 Senses

September 25th - Pumpkins

 

If you aren't already, please remember to follow us on Pinterest so you're sure not to miss those feature posts.  You can also find us on Facebook and g+ too!

 

 

 

Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of the products at no extra cost to you, I would like to thank you as I will receive a small commission and very much appreciate your patronage.  For more information , please see our full disclosure statement.

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Comments

 
Guest - Theresa--Capri 3 on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 23:26

That is a beautiful nature tray. Please come by and share it on Artsy Play Wednesday.

That is a beautiful nature tray. Please come by and share it on Artsy Play Wednesday.
Guest - Stephanie on Thursday, 12 September 2013 04:01

This is such a wonderful post! Nature has so much for us to explore and learn from. An invitation to explore is the perfect way to spark a wonderful discussion!

This is such a wonderful post! Nature has so much for us to explore and learn from. An invitation to explore is the perfect way to spark a wonderful discussion!
Guest - Kate - An Everyday Story on Thursday, 12 September 2013 12:13

This is a really gorgeous and inviting tray. Those leaves are beautiful.

This is a really gorgeous and inviting tray. Those leaves are beautiful.
Guest - Anna @ The Measured Mom on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 16:19

My five year old has a magnifying glass that's begging for more uses. I love this one! Thanks so much for sharing at After School.

My five year old has a magnifying glass that's begging for more uses. I love this one! Thanks so much for sharing at After School.
Guest - Sarah @ How Wee Learn on Friday, 20 September 2013 12:06

Such a great idea. My wee ones would love a nature tray!

Such a great idea. My wee ones would love a nature tray!
Guest - Deceptively Educational on Sunday, 22 September 2013 02:54

Your tray is beautiful and reminds me of just how many textures, shapes, and colors fall brings us. I'll have to do this with my boys. Thanks for linking up to the After School Linky!

Your tray is beautiful and reminds me of just how many textures, shapes, and colors fall brings us. I'll have to do this with my boys. Thanks for linking up to the After School Linky!
Guest - Ness on Monday, 23 September 2013 11:55

These images are so beautiful. All those beautiful fall colors. . I'll be featuring this on my blog tomorrow for my Tuesday Tots round up. Thank you for linking up!

These images are so beautiful. All those beautiful fall colors. . I'll be featuring this on my blog tomorrow for my Tuesday Tots round up. Thank you for linking up!
Guest - Amy @ A Journey of Purpose on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 03:25

Great suggestions! I'll be doing this with my little people. thanks!

Great suggestions! I'll be doing this with my little people. thanks!
Guest - TheBoyandMe on Monday, 30 September 2013 10:39

Lovely sensory box, what are those funny green spheres that look like a cross between an apple or a conker shell? I've never seen those in the UK before.

Nipping over from the Outdoor Play Party linky.

Lovely sensory box, what are those funny green spheres that look like a cross between an apple or a conker shell? I've never seen those in the UK before. Nipping over from the Outdoor Play Party linky.
Guest - Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam on Saturday, 05 October 2013 19:11

I just love nature tables, and your's is absolutely gorgeous. Your tray is full of the most beautiful things about Fall.

Thank you so much for sharing at The Outdoor Play Party.

I just love nature tables, and your's is absolutely gorgeous. Your tray is full of the most beautiful things about Fall. Thank you so much for sharing at The Outdoor Play Party.
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