Activities for toddlers and babies
When you think of autumn, what comes to mind? Rain, leaves, cooler weather, leaves changing colors, apples, pumpkins… This theme touches all these wonderful autumn pleasures.
Use adhesive putty or tape to stick fabric leaves on your daycare walls.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Fun with lights
During autumn, especially after the time change, it is often dark outside long before children leave daycare. Help babies and toddlers notice this fact by turning your daycare lights off. Set a bin filled with flashlights and toys that light up on the floor. Let children explore the contents of the bin freely (constant supervision required for battery-operated items).
Mittens and hats
Mittens and hats become part of your getting dressed routine during autumn. Fill a large bin with a variety of mittens and hats. Include mittens and hats that are for adults. Children will find them much easier to slide on and off. Let babies and toddlers play with their clothing items so they can practice manipulating them. They will have fun putting them on and taking them off repeatedly.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
Often, autumn is a windy season. Bring babies and toddlers outside and help them notice the wind. Hang ribbons from fences or set up several whirligigs throughout your yard. Watch them dance in the wind with your group.
Variation: With older toddlers, you can fly a kite.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Cut large raindrop shapes out of blue cardboard. Let babies and toddlers draw on them. Photograph each child holding an umbrella or wearing a rainhat. Print the pictures and glue each one on a raindrop. Hang the raindrops from the ceiling.
Dry autumn leaves
Let babies and toddlers manipulate dry leaves. They will enjoy tearing them and crumbling them. You can provide several containers they can fill and empty. Invite them to press the crumbled leaves on a large piece of adhesive paper.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Apple orchard visit (remembering past activities)
To foster the development of children’s intellectual and emotional memory, aim to collect souvenirs that will remind children of past activities. Simply gather objects that will remind them of experiences they enjoyed. For example, if you are visiting an apple orchard with your group, you could:
- Photograph your group throughout the visit, print and laminate the pictures, and let children manipulate them.
- Set one or two baskets just like the ones used to pick apples on the floor and invite children to use them for different games, as they see fit.
- Serve apples at snack time and tell your group that they are eating the apples they picked.
Autumn brings cooler days and colder nights. With older toddlers, set a few tiny items in an aluminum plate. For example, you could use items found in nature such as pinecones, leaves, pebbles, etc. If you would like a more colorful version, use pieces of cellophane paper, glitter, felt, and yarn. Set a string in the plate, letting it hang over the edge. Fill the plate with water and set it outside overnight. The water will turn to ice. The next morning, remove your autumn-themed block of ice from the plate and hang it in a tree, where children can safely observe it.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Visit your local hardware store and pick up several cardboard paint samples. Go for a walk with your group. Try to find a path that is lined with trees. Give older toddlers green, red, yellow and orange paint samples and encourage them to try to find leaves that are the same color.
My pumpkin is different
To help young children recognize differences, set a large pumpkin on the floor in your daycare. Change something about your pumpkin every morning. Ask children to identify what is different. Encourage them to observe the pumpkin and tell you what they see. A few ideas: a new hat, a stuffed animal set on top of the pumpkin, a sticker, etc. Photograph your pumpkin daily. Print the pictures and display them near your daycare entrance. Children will enjoy telling their parents all about the changes your pumpkin went through during the week.
Early childhood educator
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