Fall is here! Let’s celebrate with a few ideas to celebrate the season in your preschool classrooms with ways to entertain the kids in your child care center as the weather gets cooler.
The following eight ideas won’t cost you a fortune, are easy to set up and are sure to keep your kids busy and happy.
1. Fall Sensory Bins
A fall sensory bin is a box of autumnal items that will allow your kids to sharpen their fine motor skills, as well as explore new textures and sensations. Such a bin is especially well suited to kids between 1 and 3 years old.
The bin might contain popcorn kernels, dry or felt leaves, miniature pumpkins, fake sunflowers, chestnuts and apples.
The key is to find an assortment of items that each provide different sensory experiences for your kids, while not presenting them with a potential choking hazard. Whatever you put in your bin, keep a close eye on your kids at all times to ensure safety.
2. Nature-Themed Treasure Hunts
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? The answer is no one — especially if you’re under the age of 5.
Put together a list of “treasures” that can be found in your backyard or daycare’s play area and ask your kids to find them. Here are a few ideas:
- Colored Leaves: Ask young kids (ages 2 and 3) to bring you four yellow leaves or something similar. This is a fun way to practice colors and counting. And the kids can paint the leaves they collect.
- Sticks and Pinecones: Give older kids (ages 4 and 5) a ruler and ask them to bring you sticks and pinecones that are longer than a certain number of inches.
- Rocks: Ask your preschoolers to find a certain number of rocks during your treasure hunt.
- Specific Animals: If your play area is big enough, ask kids to spot squirrels, birds and ladybugs. This activity helps build observation skills.
Of course, you can hide things in the yard for kids to find, too. But nature-themed treasure hunts are equally fun for kids and a lot less work for staff.
And check out this card you can use in your fall searches:
3. Popsicle Stick Turkeys
A turkey-themed craft is a must for this time of year. Here’s a good one that also includes popsicle sticks, which we all know are the ultimate crafting material. All you need for this activity is a few popsicle sticks, paint, glue and paper.
- Step 1: Paint three popsicle sticks brown, two orange, two red and two yellow.
- Step 2: Cut out a small rectangular piece of paper and glue the three brown popsicle sticks to it side by side. Then glue the orange, red and yellow popsicle sticks to the backside of the brown ones at 45 degree angles so they look like feathers.
- Step 3: Cut out small pieces of paper for the turkey’s eyes and beak, and glue them to the front of your turkey in the appropriate places.
Pretty simple, right? But your preschoolers will have tons of fun!
Here’s a pro tip: consider using Kwix Stix tempura paint sticks, or something similar, instead of traditional paint. You’ll have way less mess to clean up after craft time.
4. Pumpkin Decorating
Pick up a few pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch or a grocery store near your home. Then let kids choose their favorite from the bunch, paint silly faces on them, add Halloween-themed stickers and unleash their creativity on the winter squashes.
If your preschoolers are closer to kindergarten age, ask them to draw a face on their pumpkins. Then carve each one into a jack-o-lantern and display them in your child care center.
It’s a way to mimic carving a pumpkin without the threat of bodily injury.
After you’ve cut into those pumpkins, have kids pull out the insides and count the seeds. They’ll have a blast getting their hands slimy and will develop their math skills, too. Be sure to put plastic down first for easy clean up!
5. Autumn Dress Up
In most places, fall means cooler weather. This is a great opportunity for you to create fun, autumn-themed dress up games for your preschoolers to enjoy!
You could fill a bin with mittens, beanies, scarves and coats and ask your kids to dress themselves in their favorite items. Adult-sized clothing works best because the larger sizes make it easier for young children to slip in and out of each item.
Or you could turn dress up into a friendly competition. Divide your kids into two teams and give each of them the name of a specific piece of clothing. Then have them take turns raiding your autumn clothes bin. The team that finds all of its clothes first wins.
6. Leaf Mazes
Instead of throwing your leaf piles into the trash bin, arrange them into a maze that your daycare kids must navigate.
It’s not as tricky or time-consuming as it sounds. All you have to do is rake the leaves into lines, leaving small openings every so often for kids to walk between. It’s easiest if you start in the middle of your maze and work your way outward.
This fall activity for preschoolers is fun and educational. Your kids will learn critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as they have a blast navigating your labyrinth.
7. Handprint Fall Trees
You could make handprint turkeys with your daycare kids. (But the popsicle stick turkeys mentioned above are way better and more original!)
Instead, how about handprint fall trees? They’re cute and easy to make:
- Trace the child’s hand and wrist on a piece of paper. If your kids are old enough, let them do this step by themselves to build their fine motor skills.
- Ask the child to paint or color the inside of their handprint. We recommend brown as this will be the trunk of the tree, but let kids’ imaginations run wild.
- Have the child cut small pieces of red, yellow and orange tissue paper into squares. If your kids are too young to handle scissors, you’ll need to do this step for them.
- Tell the child to crumple up the pieces of tissue paper and glue them to their tree. (Note: you can use construction paper instead to make the craft easier.)
This is a fun fall activity for preschoolers that parents will also love. As a daycare owner, you know how important it is to keep parents happy, so this craft is extra awesome.
8. Indoor Light Shows
As the days get shorter, it might be dark outside before parents pick their kids up from your daycare. An indoor light show is a great way to capitalize!
Turn off the lights in your child care center and let your kids play with flashlights and light-up toys.
Don’t make it completely dark for this activity — not only will you have a harder time keeping track of your kids, but younger children may get frightened.
Another idea is to dim the lights and point one flashlight at a blank wall. Then give your kids a shadow puppet show.
Keep Your Kids and Their Parents Smiling
Whether you decorate pumpkins, play autumn dress up or put on an indoor light show, the kids and staff in your child care center will have a great time with these crafts and games.
And when your kids are having a great time, your child care business will be in an ideal position to grow.
Parents love seeing their little ones make projects, whether for fall or for any season!
You can share those crafting experiences with them using Procare’s built-in parent engagement app to send real-time photos and other updates.
Curious how Procare can become a classroom essential?