Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall School Fun

Every so often, I like to take time and drop our normal school load for a mini study. It helps shake things up and gives a much needed break from the same old, same old. Plus, we're right about the point to take a little time off so it was a refreshing week.

I had a few more plans for this week, but it turned out well in the end.

I used Simple Schooling's Autumn Fun Book (only $0.99) as my base. It includes a little scientific/historical blurb about autumn as well as leaves changing color and a comparison of leaves to needles. In addition, it has fun activities like mazes, copywork, poetry, coloring pages, and phonics/ABC work.

All week, we looked for the early signs of fall: cool nights, cool breezes, changing colors, nuts and seeds, busy squirrels, migrating birds...

Discovering catkins for the first time (I loved playing with these as a kid):

And of course, plenty of play time outside (and even school outside) - the week was too beautiful to be stuck indoors!

Squirrels are a big hit around here. They are so entertaining to watch. They play, they run, they scold (each other and our cat), they jump, they scramble around, gather nuts, bury nuts, and drop nuts on our heads. 

This little squirrel is busy eating buckeyes Critter collected and piled beneath this butternut tree:

With all the squirrel love, we brought it into our school work and created a piece of artwork. Skipper took this picture so it's a little blurry but we took a piece of watercolor paper, colored with fall water based markers, and then took a damp napkin to spread the colors. Once dry, we colored and glued on a squirrel template, along with a leaf tail from leaves we collected. Some chose to do their own thing. (This came from Pinterest but the original link doesn't work or I would give credit.)

We explored why leaves change color using this simple experiment. The kids picked one tree and collected leaves. We tore the leaves into the smallest pieces we could, put them in a small jelly jar, covered with rubbing alcohol and used a spoon to mix and kind of mash it up as best we could. We then set the jar in an inch of hot water. Over the next 45 minutes we stirred the mixture every so often and replaced the water as it cooled. In the end, the alcohol turned a nice green color. 

I tore a strip of paper napkin and placed one end in the alcohol. Slowly, over the next hour or so, the colors crept up the napkin and separated out so we could see the tree's true color. 

The kids really liked this. It would have been neat to compare different trees but we ran out of time and alcohol.

Of course, what kind of fall study would this be without apples in September? We created a painting of an apple tree's life cycle, made gluten-free apple pie scented playdough**, and went on an apple orchard farm tour - apple picking included - with our local homeschool group.

**I used this gluten-free mix, and had to add a lot more cornstarch than they called for. To make it apple pie scented, I added your apple pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice. I tried to make it red but it ended up a dark pink. I already used a bunch of red food coloring (30 drops or so!). The kids are having a ball with it. Store-bought playdough contains wheat and it makes such a mess that we had to ban it from the house due to cross-contamination issues so in the rare instances I make or buy gluten-free dough, the kids are in heaven.

Other Resources We Used:
  • Outdoor Nature Journal - included a journal/drawing page, leaf rubbing, bark rubbing.
  • Fall Leaf printable chart (used with their outdoor nature journal).
  • Acorn Even/Odd math sheet
  • 5 Little Acorn poem (Miss Bear then found all the A/a's with a do-a-dot marker.)
  • Apples mad lib for the boys - note that this is not the best grammar-wise so I kind of had to fudge (says the mom who obviously ignores all grammar rules as she writes -- hey, I like to write as I talk.)
  • We also created fall tree art using a printed template and fall color do-a-dot markers.
  • Book: Johnny Appleseed by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet -- a wonderful little poem about the legend. (Since I actually did not plan this week very well - thank you Pinterest for helping - I didn't check books out from the library for the fall theme. We just read nonseasonal books like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland.)
  • God Made the Seasons! story about two brother squirrels, Scrunchy and Squeaky, and a lesson on not to worry, God will provide. I've had this story for years and even the bigger kids love to hear it every fall. I have two paper squirrels I printed, colored, and laminated that act out the story as I read it. The "puppets" definitely spice up story time.
  • Apple snacks. I sneaked in a lesson on the Blessed Trinity (three parts of an apple - skin, inside, and seeds) as well as the 5 wounds of Christ (cut the apple sidewise). Pretty neat and simple to do.
Fall activities are just so fun. I plan on having another fall study in October - this time a little spookier and full of pumpkins.

Happy fall! Busy week ahead with appointments and a week of feast days!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun. I love fall, so glad we are starting to see signs of it!


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