The young children in our classroom have began to notice hints of fall in the changing colours of leaves, the temperature outside and activities at home such as baking pies and apple picking. As we begin to explore the season and document our observations, wonderings and understandings about fall, I thought I would share some of the beautiful representations of knowledge and wonderings happening in our classroom in the hopes of inspiring some ideas and creative explorations should this season be of interest to the children in your classroom. In keeping with the tradition of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, our activities are not preplanned, but are, rather, organic extensions of exploration, observations and children’s working theories (provided below each photograph), driven by the children themselves. Here is a peek at all of the wonderful learning happening in our classroom so far!
M.G. found this leaf in our kindergarten playground before school. She brought it inside and expressed an interest in looking at it through a magnifying glass to “make the leaf bigger”. She then decided to trace her leaf and carefully add colour details to it “like a scientist”. Can you believe she is a JK student?! It is amazing to observe the capabilities of our youngest learners!
L.G. found this rock outside and decided to carefully observe the “lines and marks on it”. He also wanted to paint his observations, and the “different colours” he saw on it through the magnifying glass. L.G. is also a JK student! I am always amazed at the artistic abilities of young learners!
This week we decided to go on a nature walk to a grassy area close to our school. While we were originally planning to walk to a local forest, the afternoon was incredibly windy and the paper bags we brought along for collecting materials began to blow away, causing a safety concern with the children chasing them. I wondered what (if anything) we would find in a clearing of several trees …. the basket says it all! The children found pinecones, twigs, stones, logs, and walking sticks. In this photograph, B.M. offers to carry our basket back to school – “I’m strong, I can carry all these pinecones and sticks”.
This is an example of an open ended provocation created with beads, mirrors and our nature walk finds. Interestingly enough, our beads were all sorts of colours, and two students suggested we sort our beads to reflect the natural colours of Fall – “Let’s put all of the green, orange, yellow and brown beads together” – R.F. “We can use those for leaves” Z.M.
Scented salt dough is a class favourite. Traditional autumn scents of cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom not only smell delicious, but are non toxic as they are made from natural ingredients. I simply made a traditional salt dough recipe, ground up spices and mixed the two. Simple!
After reading a few non-fiction stories and talking about the different colours of Fall, we decided to create a collaborative art piece using our fingerprints as leaves. Every child’s fingerprints (in many colours) are used to create a large, lush and beautiful tree. We had a great time creating this, and our painting is available for students to continue to add on to.
Clay sculptures are also a class favourite. We used our nature walk finds to explore three dimensional art. Creating sculptures is a wonderful and creative way to strengthen fine motor skills and introduces young children to another form of creative expression.
Leaf prints are also a class favourite! To create this rainbow effect, we poured paint onto a sheet of parchment paper and gently pressed the leaves onto it. We then printed (pressed) the leaves onto white card stock to create a beautiful art print. In the past, we have also used ink pads and have even painted on the leaves themselves. So much fun!
Our nature walk finds make their way to many spaces in our classroom – this is an example of a tray filled with pinecones placed by the window. Our materials follow the Reggio Emilia philosophy of ‘unhurried time’ where the materials and representations of children’s learning are not packed away (following a clock, or adult time), but instead, remain visible and available for children to revisit them time and time again.
I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at our fall inspired learning so far! I will be sharing more of our inquiry as it progresses, and would love to hear about some of the fall inspired provocations and explorations in your classroom.
What are some of your students’ favourite fall inspired explorations? Leave a comment below!