Nine Autumn Lesson Inspirations
The seasons surround us, they inform the world we live in; each bringing their own traditions, cultural events, moods, colours and sounds. Autumn is a time full of magic; there is perhaps no season more intriguing, colourful or tangible.
Rusting leaves, harvest time, Halloween, nature, Autumnal food and produce; there is so much information, and so many natural resources to delve into when planning lessons around this season. So, sometimes work sheets and recycled lessons just don’t feel very exciting or stimulating. Autumn is not just a list of facts, it is a subject you can see, smell, hear and feel. With this list of lesson ideas, we hope to inspire you to inspire your class to engage with this most fascinating of seasons!
1. Foliage Weigh-In
Any excuse to get the children physically engaged with a subject is worth it. The more senses we encourage our students to stimulate, the more likely they will engage with, and retain information.
Take your class for a walk and ask them to collect a variety of foliage. If you have enough containers, then they can each get together their own collection of leaves. Having said that, it might be more practical to have a container per table/group; always good to encourage a little teamwork! When you return to the classroom you may want to take some time to explore what the children have collected. Perhaps discuss the colours, textures and appearances of the leaves.
Each student/group will weigh their leaves on a scale and record this in a graph. They will do this every day over a period of time, a couple of weeks perhaps. The leaves will lose weight as they decay. You could expand this idea to a scientific experiment, including predictions, methods and conclusions.
Integrated Subjects: Maths, Science
Resources: Leaves, Containers, Scales, Graph Paper, Pencils, Rulers.
2. Trees in Autumn
This is a great way to get your class to explore the colours of the season. Discuss with your class what colours they think might be associated with Autumn – trees and leaves will almost certainly come up. Gather some examples of trees in autumn; pull them off of the internet, or even better, take your class out and get them to take photos. Once the class is clear on the palette of the season, the task can begin.
Tree outlines can be adorned with painted leaves, the children can experiment with the colours. If you have the time you might even want to collect and use real leaves instead of paint.
Integrated Subjects: Art
Resources: Paint, Paintbrushes, Tree Outlines
3. In the Hot Seat with Mother Nature
Mother Nature is a fun character to introduce in a season where change is so evident. Fire up their imaginations by first discussing Mother Nature with your class. Do they know who she is? Is she real? How old is she? What does she do? If you can, try to open up a bit of a discussion between your students.
Once they have explored this as a class, distribute paper and pens. Ask them to come up with a number of questions they would like to ask Mother Nature about Autumn (set a target number of questions appropriate to the age and ability of your class). Once this has been done, collect and re-distribute their work at random.
The task is now to answer the questions that they have been given. They may use resources such as the internet and text books for this.
You can leave it there, or, if you have a particularly confident or theatrical class, you might want to offer them the opportunity to act their interviews out in front of the class.
Integrated Subjects: Humanities, Creative Writing, Science
Resources: Paper, Pens/Pencils, Research Materials (e.g. Internet, Text Books)
4. Autumnal Poetry
Autumn is a great subject for poetry. With the season offering so much in terms of sensory elements, there is plenty to wrap imaginative language around. There is a fantastic slideshow under this task’s resources to give you and your students some poetic motivation; crammed with similes, alliterations, onomatopoeia and metaphors!
Integrated Subjects: Creative Writing
Resources: Paper, Pens/Pencils, Autumn Poem Slideshow
5. Taste of Autumn
Food is a huge part of this season. With harvest time, root vegetables and the art of preserving all being rooted in Autumnal history, it makes sense to try out a little seasonal cooking. Of course, not all schools have access to a kitchen, so you might want some classroom friendly ideas.
There is no vegetable more synonymous with autumn than the pumpkin. Cooking with this vegetable not only opens up conversation about autumnal produce, you can also easily link into farming, harvest and, of course, Halloween.
Integrated Subjects: Cooking, Humanities
Resources: 9 Easy Pumpkin Recipes for Kids
6. Project Photosynthesis
Another easy yet exciting leaf project. This one works best in early Autumn. Get you class to collect freshly fallen leaves, foliage that is still green.
When you return to the classroom cover and discuss the main points of photosynthesis (the resource sheet provided may help to break down the main aspects of this). Then get your class to take their best leaves and create a pattern on it using masking tape and/or card. Place the leaves on a windowsill, or anywhere that they might receive sunlight. Return to the leaves the following week to see the effects that the sunlight has had on the concealed sections.
Integrated Subjects: Science, Art
Resources: Green Leaves, Masking Tape, Card, Photosynthesis Fact Sheet
7. Leaf Graph
Another way to teach with your gathered leaves. Get your children to choose 10 leaves from your pile of collected leaves. Get the children to record the colour of the leaves on a graph (red, brown, yellow, green).
Integrated Subjects: Maths
Resources: Leaves, Graph Paper, Pencils, Rulers
8. Sensory Harvest Experience
This lesson idea is particularly good at KS1, but you will probably find that older children have fun with it as well! This is a way to explore the smells and textures of the season.
Source a really good book that revolves around Autumn. Get your hands on various sensory materials mentioned in the story. So, if it is a book about farming for example, you could get hold of hay, straw, wool (for sheep), seeds, soil and vegetables.
Put these materials in large containers (buckets or trays are good). Once the story has been told, encourage the children to explore and play with the associated materials.
Integrated Subjects: Humanities
Resources: Sensory Materials, Story Book, Containers, Farm Sensory Play
9. Scarecrows and Conker People
If you are the kind of teacher that loves a class project, then this could be the one for you. Why not have an inter-class scarecrow competition? Each table/group can design and build their own, child sized scarecrow over a number of weeks. Of course, you will need the children to source clothes (old hand me downs are ideal) and accessories for their creations. But, for a term project, it is worth it.
If you are after a scarecrow on a smaller scale, then maybe try individual mini-scarecrows made from lollipop sticks and fabric offcuts. Or, if you are lucky enough to have a horse-chestnut tree in the vicinity, conker people models are also a fun activity.
Integrated Subjects: Art
Resources: Scarecrow Instructions, Mini-Scarecrow Instructions, Conker Model Resource