Fall is in full swing, and the weather is perfect for outdoor activities to help young children develop learning skills. Math, science, reading, writing, and art are all part of the fun. Children won't even notice how much education they're getting.

1. Corn Maze

  • To prepare your little ones for the joys of roaming through these fun creations, make sure they have worked a few mazes on paper. These can be found in coloring/activity books at your local retail store or hobby and craft store, and range from very simple to more complex. Working a maze with a pencil, crayon, or marker helps them practice hand-eye coordination and develop fine motor skills.
     
  • When you participate in the real maze, be sure to use all those positional directions you have worked on with your children: left, right, back, and forward.

2. Measuring Pumpkins

  • Choose a few pumpkins of various sizes from your local pumpkin patch, farmer's market, or grocery store.
     
  • Use a tape measure to measure each pumpkin's height and circumference.
     
  • Weigh pumpkins on the grocery store scale or, if your pumpkins are heavy enough, your bathroom scale at home.
     
  • Record all of the information on paper to make comparisons.
     
  • Practice concepts of "big," "bigger," "biggest," and "heavy," "heavier," "heaviest."
     
  • Have children draw pictures of their pumpkins — taking care to make each size different, just like the pumpkins they are comparing.

3. Leaf Learning

When the leaves change color this fall, head outdoors and fill up a bucket, basket, or paper bag with an assortment of colors.

  • Have preschoolers work on laying out patterns in a line on the sidewalk or driveway (red, yellow, red, yellow).
     
  • Toddlers can practice sorting the leaves into separate bowls or buckets by color.
     
  • Have children trace around leaves on construction paper, then color and cut. Decorate your refrigerator by securing the paper leaves with magnets, or the playroom by attaching to a bulletin board, or hanging with string from a light fixture.

4. Nature Walk

  • Grab the container you used in activity #3 and take it with you on a walk through the neighborhood, a park, or local outdoor center. Encourage your toddler or preschooler to gather up all the stuff falling from trees this time of year: acorns, leaves, twigs.
     
  • Dump out the treasures at home and help your child discover how many ways he can describe the characteristics (small, large, hard, soft, long, short), and how many ways he can sort them.
     
  • Create an art project using the items you found. Using strong glue and cardboard, glue the items on cardboard to make a picture. Examples include: a stick person with an acorn head, or a tree using a twig as a trunk and pieces of leaves as small leaves on the tree.

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This post was included in the Homeschooling on the Cheap blog carnival, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and The Homesteading Carnival.