Fall In Love With Fall
Some of my earliest and greatest memories are of walking with my grandmother on a crisp fall day; we would collect leaves, talk, and laugh. I would ask 1000 “why” questions and she would answer every single one of them with thoughtfulness. After we had collected our precious and beautiful autumn leaves, pinecones, acorns, and pine-needles, she would help me categorize them, laying each object down with its “friends.” I remember sitting with my treasures – usually in front of her large sunroom windows – and thinking “I am in love with Fall.” I felt inspired by nature to be creative, to think big, and never to be afraid to ask why. To this day I turn to nature to calm my mind and to ignite my imagination. I turn to nature to be reminded that beauty and knowledge are not only found in the classroom. Knowledge is found in the noises that our shoes make walking on the nearly frozen ground. It’s in the subtle, yet distinctive, way the air smells when we know the seasons have shifted, and in how the colors of the leaves trigger that feeling that magic and science are intertwined.
- This month, go on walks with the intention of collecting memories and making a nature wreath. Have the children select baskets or bags to carry during your neighborhood walks. Let the children set the pace, and let them stop as much as they want – they will remind you to slow down. During a recent walk with a group of two and three year olds, a child said to me, “There are no cars coming at us, so why are we walking so fast?” I said, “You are so right, let’s take our time.” She smiled and sat down to explore the rocks underfoot.
- Help the children categorize the treasures. If you have ever taken a walk with a child, you know that indeed everything they find is a treasure!
- Make a cardboard wreath or purchase one from a local craft store.
- Offer lots of glue and a place to keep the in-progress work.
- Invite the the children to add more items after each walk. During the process of placing and gluing the items, have a conversation about what they noticed that day – how did they feel, what did they smell?
- As an extension, collect images of your children out in nature. Hang the photos from the wreath or post them on a community board to inspire conversation with families about all the learning that took place while falling in love with fall.
Note – we were inspired to write this based on a passage we read from “Rethinking the Classroom Landscape – Creating Environments that Connect Young Children, Families, and Communities” by Sandra Duncan, EdD, Jody Martin, Rebecca Kreth
Marie Dawn Johnson
Early Childhood Education Specialist