Autumn greetings to Classroom Observer readers. This teacher-mom has just flown back from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where my son got married. I told my Alabama friends that I would pack the cool, fall air of Michigan and bring it back to Alabama to let it blow on our hot temperatures. Sure enough, when I landed back in Lee County, cool fall weather had arrived. I know my efforts really did not help, but autumn is here.
Children absolutely love the coolness and beautiful colors of fall. What teachable moments we have for our young children as squirrels bustle around for acorns and migratory formations of birds fly by.
By the way, Oct. 9 is recognized as World Migratory Bird Day. Explain to your young children that migration is when birds, ducks and geese are moving to a warmer climate as the cold winter approaches. And yes, around Lee County we do see a lot of ducks and geese. Our bushy-tailed squirrels present young children with lessons, too. Point out how the squirrels gather nuts and acorns. They can use their counting skills to count the number of acorns and nuts the squirrels gather. Observe the different places the squirrels climb and rush to. Children can also exercise their memory skills by recalling with you where the squirrel has been. You and your child can list these places or even draw a simple “squirrel map.” Take time to notice how the sunflowers seem to celebrate this season with their bright yellow petals. Every fall, I love to read the “Sunflower Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs, illustrated by Nancy Munger. Young children identify with the young gardener who hopes to grow sunflowers that reach heaven.
Families, take nature walks around the house, the neighborhood or ride to one of our many beautiful parks. Rivers, lakes, streams and ponds begin to reflect the changes of this beautiful season. But, you have to take time with your young child to observe these changes. Time spent with our young children reflects warmth and love. As you take these family nature trips, collect items like fall leaves, acorns and nuts, safely picking up pine cones to put in a bag. These nature items present many early childhood lessons such as classifying color of leaves or sorting acorns from largest to smallest.
October is a month which celebrates seasonal delights. We celebrate apples during the month of October as National Apple Month. In an apple lesson just this past week, I taught young preschoolers, who were fascinated by the star which appears in the pulp when I cut the apple horizontally. The children loved seeing and counting the seeds of the apple. Also, you and your child can plant the seeds to see what happens. While eating apples, children can learn about the parts of the apple, which are skin, stem, flesh and seeds. Some farms allow families to come out and pick apples from their orchards. Stopping by curb markets to allow children to select a basket of delicious apples is another good learning experience. We have so many kinds of American apples: McIntosh, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Crispin, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, etc. Children enjoy drinking apple juice, as well as making simple apple sauce. Baking apples gives them math lessons in measuring, and lessons on smelling, seeing and tasting.
Don’t we all love the way Lee County has many fall carnivals and fairs? As a young child growing up in Lee County, I can still remember holding my father’s hand as each year we would go and enjoy the games, activities, rides, foods and wholesome entertainment.
Another fall excursion that I have always done as a teacher is, on Fridays, to simply take my class outside at the end of the day and enjoy the rich, blue autumn sky — and yes, to safely play leaves angels in the mounds of colorful leaves. Parents with “leaves angels” should just be sure there are no small animals or any dangers hidden in the leaves. As a class, we would enjoy snacks, talk about what we saw and reflect upon our class week outside. Families, this simple lesson can be done at dusk when the sun is going down. Sunsets in the fall are just simply beautiful. A simple lesson could be “where does the sun go after it goes down?”
This coming Friday, Oct. 7, is “You Matter To Me Day.” With this day, I want to put in a plug for spending time with our young children. We give gifts to our children on birthdays and holidays, but there are special gifts that are not materialistic, yet fully tangible. These are special gifts that require time. These gifts are joy, love and peace.
1. Joy is an inward happiness that comes when a child senses a bonding and security with their caregivers and parents. Reaching out to your child on a daily basis is such a blessing and an appreciated gift to young children. An optimistic spirit is contagious and brings joy. Life is not going to be a bowl of cherries, but it is how we handle the circumstances of life that count. Teaching children early in life how to live life no matter how tough it gets, is a valuable lesson not only for a child, but adults as well.
2. Love is extended to a young child when we realize each child is very unique. Your unconditional love toward your child is planted into their hearts when you accept them for how they are made and who they are. This is accomplished by spending time with young children, encouraging them and praising them.
3. Peace for your child is them being confident, comfortable and secure in their hearts and minds of who they are. When children are at peace, they learn better and interact better with family and friends.
I hope the few suggestions I offer from the heart give families a harvest full of fun, memories and relationships with family and friends. As we approach autumn 2022, let’s stop in gratitude of this beautiful season that God provides.