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50+ Fall Themes & Activities for Preschool & Early Elementary Kids and Classrooms

Incorporate favorite Fall themes and activities for preschool, kindergarten & elementary kids to inspire learning and exploration this Autumn!

Kids can have very definite likes and desires when it comes to acquiring new knowledge even at a young age.  As many people say “they are just a sponge waiting to soak up all that knowledge”!

I love using themed learning with children of all ages but especially with kids ages 3 – 10 years old! If you haven’t tried this yet, you’ll be AMAZED at how much your kids will enjoy it!

Fall themed activities for preschool, kindergarten, elementary

Fall Themes for Preschool & Early Elementary Kids

The goal of theme-based learning is to offer your child an in-depth experience that allows them to explore a variety of areas  (science, art, sensory, reading, etc) all focused on a theme they love!

For example, if you have a child who’s crazy about dinosaurs, you would focus on books, puzzles, activities and even an outing where they could expore dinosaurs.  And during Fall, seasonal learning is the best! We have quite a few Preschool & Early Elementary themes here at Edventures with Kids. All of these topics can easily be done at home or in a classroom/daycare setting.

I always like to include books, creative hands-on activities such as a craft/science experiement etc. and a field trip with our learning themes.  I’ve found that using multiple learning opportunities will inspire kids to explore the topic a little more and also lends itself to increased comprehension and expanded curiosity too.

Creating Fall Themed Lesson Plans and Units

I have a simple formula for putting together a themed unit –- READ + DO + GO

1.  Pick a topic based on your child’s interestswhat is something they love right now?

It might be a broad theme such as dinosaurs, painting or ocean animals.  Or it can be very specific — my son wanted to learn about the giant squid one year 🙂

2.  Over the course of a week or two, share the following activities with your child all related to the theme:

READ 2 – 5 books — I really love to include both fiction & nonfiction choices!

DO an activity or two — do a few craft, art or science projects related to their topic.

GO on a field trip – visit a local museum, park or other attraction related to the theme. (a note for 2020 – it may be difficult to do field trips this year, so opt for virtual field trips or outdoor exploration activities)

Many times, I have parents say that planning a field trip is difficult for them to do.  If you’re looking for ideas on where you might visit, be sure to see our free printable list of 40 Field Trip Activities for Kids!

Sometimes the field trip might take some planning like a visit to a local museum; other times it’s something as simple as a nature hike around the neighborhood.  The goal of the field trip is giving your child a real life experience connected to the learning theme and it’s invaluable when you see them connecting the dots in real life!  Be sure to visit our series on the ABC’s of Field Trips if you’re looking for inspiration.

You can also incorporate a little technology – we would watch a 30 minute kids DVD or use an educational app that matched the theme.  Virtual field trips are also a great option so if you don’t have someplace near you that’s related to the chosen theme, search the internet for a virtual trip that your child would enjoy.

Fall Themed Activities and Ideas for Preschool, Kindergarten & Early Elementary Kids

Here are 13 complete themed units (or mini lesson plans) for Fall — each includes book lists, crafts, activity ideas & fun ways to get out and explore the world!  I’ve also included affiliate links for items we’ve used & loved too — enjoy learning this Fall!

Fall theme leaf activities and books

Autumn Theme Learning with Leaves

Read:  Books to Take on a Leaf Hunt

Activity: The Art & Science of Leaf Rubbings

Activity: How do Leaves Breathe?

Learning Item: Check out these fun hands-on activities in the Leaf STEAM Activity Pack!

Field Trip:  Head to the park or on a trail walk for a leaf hunt with these free printable Leaf Hunt cards!

Apple themed lesson plan and unit for preschool, prek, kindergarten

Apple Activities for Kids in Autumn

Read:  Books about Apples

Activity:  Hands-on fun with Apples

Activity:  Fall Kitchen Science with Apples

Learning Item: Play Apples to Apples Apples to Apples – kids love this game!

Field Trip:  Visit an apple orchard or an apple cider mill!  Details in our Apple Book post on how to find cider mills & orchards.

Fall lesson plan ideas for preschool homeschool or classroom

Moon Activities & Nocturnal Life in Fall

Read:  Books about the Moon & Bats

Activity:  Hands-on Science – Explore the Phases of the Moon

Learning Item: Use this Moon Phases Puzzle to explore all the phases of the moon!  Or this set of Moon Phases flash cards and mini poster to help kids learn.

Field Trip:  Head out on a Nighttime Scavenger Hunt {free printable activity} to see what does on in your neighborhood in the dark!

Fall learning activities for kids

Forest Themed Activities for Preschool & Elementary Classroom

Read:  15 Books on Forest Animals or if you have older kids, see the list of Wilderness Adventure Books for ages 9 – 12

Activity:  Free printable forest activities (can be found in the Woodland Animal section)

Activity:  Collect a few items on a hike or nature walk and create one of these beautiful nature crafts.

Learning Item: Work on those fine motor skills as your kids create their own Forest Animal Masks  or sew their own Woodland Stuffed Animals set!

Field Trip:  Take a hike in the forest (find lots of great tips for hiking with kids here!!)

Fun fall themes for the classroom

Learning about Stars & Space

Read:  Books about the Stars

Activity:  Make marshmallow constellations

Activity:  Solar System Activities for Kids

Learning Item: Use this gorgeous printable set Exploring the Night Sky with Kids or these Constellations Knowledge Cards to help you find constellations in your area!

Field Trip:  Visit a local planetarium or spend the evening at an observatory near you!  Or take your own telescope outside one night for an evening star show.

Homeschool learning ideas for Fall and Autumn

Owl Activities for Preschool & Elementary Ages

Read & Craft:  Owl Books & Crafts for Kids

Activity:  More Owl Books & Nature Owl Crafts

Learning Item:  Explore some science by dissecting these Owl Pellets with bone chart to learn what owls eat!

Field Trip:  Find out if there are any owls at a local nature center or zoo.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology also has some wonderful Owl Cam feeds where you can view live owl behavior online.

Fun things for kids to learn about in Fall

photo credit: Sonja Langford

Fall Themed Tree Activities for Kids

Read:  Exploring Trees

Activity:  Painting Trees through the Seasons

Activity:  Go on a Tree Hunt & more Tree Books for Kids

Learning Item: This printable Tree Unit Study teaches kids about leaves, tree rings and tree anatomy!

Field Trip:  Go on a Tree Scavenger Hunt around your home or classroom — how many different trees live in your area?!  Take a crayon and piece of paper and create a bark rubbing for each tree you find.

Fall learning activities: pumpkin, leaves, animals

Hibernation & Migration Activities in Autumn

Read:  Books about How Animals Prepare for Winter

Activity:  Become a Citizen Scientist – there are a number of real life science projects that kids & families can help with by observing animals & collecting data.

Activity:  Go on a pretend hibernation/migration (activities located at the bottom of the book list)

Learning Item: This printable set of Winter Animal Activities will explain about hibernation, migration and adaptation!

Field Trip:  A walk around the neighborhood to observe local animals and how they are preparing for winter.  You could also follow this up with a second walk about a month later to observe the differences.

autumn books and activities for a Fall themed lesson plan

Activities for the Autumnal Equinox 

Read:  14 Cozy Books for Fall

Read: 16 Classic Autumn Books for Kids

Activity:  Books & Activities that explore Autumn

Activity:  18 Autumn Scavenger Hunts to explore the wonders of the season!

Field Trip: There are so many options here: pumpkin patch, orchard, garden store or just a drive or hike to view the foliage and animal behaviors.  Here’s a fun list of 40 Festive Fall Activities you can print out & try!


Autumn theme ideas

Kids Activities that Explore the World

Read:  Around the World in 30 Books: A Reading Trip Across the Globe

Activity:  10 Culture & Map Activities for Kids

Activity:  7 Activities to do with a Map

Learning Item:  A Map!  If you don’t have one in your home, try the Wall Pops Kids World Dry Erase Map or this great Educational Geography Puzzle. 

Field Trip:  Visit a local cultural center, have lunch at an ethnic restaurant and try some new food or attend of cultural festival in your area.

Fun camping themed unit for Fall

Camping Theme for Preschool & Elementary Kids

Read:  10 Books to Read in the Tent

Activity:  Host a fun Indoor Camp-out for the kids!  Put up a tent, grab some sleeping bags and let them ‘pretend’ camp — great prep for the real thing too.

Learning Item: Pretend play goes a long way to teaching kids about a real camp-out.  Try this fun 10 Piece Camp Out Play Set to get them ready for the real thing.

Field Trip:  Going camping obviously! 🙂  But if you can’t go overnight, head to a local park and do some camping activities for the day.

Fall themed learning with pumpkins

Pumpkin Activities for Fall

Read:  12 Perfect Pumpkin Books (includes pumpkin related activities too)

Activity: Choose from these 15 Pumpkin STEAM Activities for kids of all ages!

Activity:  Create your own Textured Pumpkin Patch mixed media craft for kids

Learning Items:  These printable Life Cycle of a Pumpkin activities is perfect to pair with this unit!

Field Trip:  Visit a pumpkin patch or take the kids to choose their own pumpkins!

gratitude activities for kids - Fall lesson plan ideas

Gratitude Activities for Kids

Read:  10 Books about Giving Thanks & Thanksgiving

Read & Activity:  Challenge the kids to do this Thanksgiving Reading Challenge to learn about the symbols & activities related to the holiday.  The post also includes an extensive book list for each Thanksgiving topic.

Activity:  Grab this free printable Gratitude Scavenger Hunt that helps kids identify what they are grateful for in their lives!

Field Trip:  One of the best ways to teach gratitude is by getting the kids involved in a volunteer project or activity that helps others.  Here are a few ideas for family or group volunteer projects.

More Fun Fall Activities

Fall Family BINGO Fun {free printable!}

20 Outdoor Fall Science Activities

Creating Leaf Prints

Looking for more creative ideas & seasonal activities to do with the kids?

44 Fun Fall Activities for Families