It’s hard to believe that we’ve almost reached the end of the year already. As the calendar days lead us into the Fall season, it’s time to prepare for falling leaves, shorter days, and cooler nights. Fall tends to be a favorite in my house, with the kids eager to dress-up for Halloween and preparing fall crafts and decorations for Thanksgiving, they also know the hot chocolate is just around the corner. Below, I’ve included some of my favorite Fall and Halloween ideas and ways to incorporate language and/or motor activities into them!
Fall Nature Walk: One of the best things to do with children in the Fall is to get out and enjoy nature! There are so many things for kids to see and experience, it’s a great time to get the family bundled up and go for an evening walk! During your walk you can talk with your kids about the weather, how it’s different in summer and fall. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about the different clothes you have to wear when the weather gets cooler, especially if your child has on hats, scarves, jackets, or gloves. You can also discuss the changes in nature; the falling leaves that are changing colors, animals preparing for winter, etc. These walks are a great opportunity for your child to collect leaves, pine cones, cool rocks and anything else that they can use to make a Fall collage, giving them the chance to use some fine motor skills.
Fun with Pumpkins: Who doesn’t love anything pumpkin? Roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie and bread, and decorating jack-o-lanterns are just a few of the fun pumpkin activities that come to mind, all of which are great ways to facilitate language and fine motor skills. As you prepare jack-o-lanterns, you can discuss the steps you are going to take to make the lantern and you can also give your child some great multi-step directions to follow, i.e., ‘take the top off the pumpkin and use the spoon to scoop out the insides’. Your child can practice decision-making by determining how to decorate the pumpkin. If you are using paints, your child can select the colors and shapes of the different facial features and use some great motor skills to paint the different shapes for the face; if you are using stickers, your child can describe and select the stickers they want and use a good pincer grasp to peel the stickers off; if you are cutting, your child can select the shapes and sizes you cut into the jack-o-lantern. And don’t forget to have your little one pick through the pumpkin pulp for seeds to roast later, another great fine motor activity!
Leaves, leaves everywhere: The beauty of fall can inspire kids, spark imagination and leave memories for years to come. Since fall is ripe with more than its share of beautiful leaves everywhere, they remain one of the best fall staples to create and use in crafts. One of the things my kids love to do is rake the leaves into a big pile which then becomes their personal playground that they use for jumping, rolling throwing, and anything else an active child mind can come up with. A leaf pile would also be great to hide items in and have kids find. Be wary about smaller items though! They may never be ‘found’! Another great fine motor activity is ‘leaf destruction.’ It always amazes me who kids never getting tired of ripping, tearing, cutting, or just generally destroying anything. Well why not let them have at with a bunch of leaves. They can rip the leaves up, crumble them up, and cut them up with child-friendly scissors and knives. They are going to love it, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess, the leaves decompose faster, they get fine motor practice and all is great with the world! And you can’t imagine the endless conversations you can have about leaves, great for language development! You can discuss the different color leaves you find; what color the leaves were before, especially if you find some that are still green; where the leaves came from and why they fall off the trees; differences in seasons; differences and similarities in the different leaves you find; leaf counting; leaf sorting by color or type, it is truly endless!
Dress-Up Fun: Halloween tends to be a favorite with the young and the young-at-heart. Who doesn’t love the chance to dress up and be something else for a while? And for kids (and a lot of adults too!), the added bonus candy treats makes dressing up too sweet to resist. You can make the most out of costume fun by having your kids participate every step of the way. If you are up to the challenge and crafty enough, making your child’s costume can be a boundless opportunity for you to engage your child in language and fine motor activities. But even if you don’t have time or patience to muster up your inner design-maker, and if you prefer buying a costume, you can still afford your child many language and motor opportunities. As a team, you can pick out and talk about what your child’s costume is going to be; together you can come up with a list of all the materials needed and write the step-by-step instructions to complete the costume. Having your child talk about color selection, accessories needed, why they chose that costume are great conversational topics to facilitate language. Younger kids can make choices between colors, fabrics, etc. During the costume-making process, kids work on fine motor skills by cutting shapes for the costumes and using appropriate grasp and coordination to glue items onto their outfit. Giving multiple opportunities to ‘try-on’ the costume can help to work on dressing, buttoning and zipping skills. Playing with your child while they are in costume and creating a skit can help children work on imaginary play, language, vocabulary and abstract skills. Every time your child wears their costume, create a different skit. Use rich, colorful language as you play, and use it as an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary or concepts. For instance, if your child is dressed as a princess, you can create a play skit where you pretend to have the princess go on a mission to save her lost best friend (which could easily be a stuffed animal, doll or sibling). On the mission she encounters different animals (new vocabulary opportunity) and she has to determine if they are ‘friendly’ animals who want to help or ‘not friendly’ animals who want to take her off her mission (introducing the concept of understanding different tones of voice or social cues). And the next time she dresses up in her costume, she can be planning a party for several of her princess friends and needs to shop for snacks or lunch, warranting a pretend trip to the grocery store.
All seasons and occasions can provide your family great chances to engage in language stimulation and motor activities, and fall is no exception. These activities named above are just the tip of the iceberg and there are many great activities you and your child can do, you are only limited by your imagination, or your Google search results!
Let us know if you use any of these activities and how they worked for you!