Okay, okay! Truth be told we don’t get to experience the joy of fall colors and the changing seasons here in Central Florida, but that doesn’t keep us from learning about leaves and why they change color. There are just to many fun learning opportunties, process art activities, and sensory experiences to dive into for us to miss out.
Whether you get to experience fall firsthand or you want a little inspiration for bringing fall to your kiddos, here are some fabulous resources for planning your preschool fall leaf theme. Most of these activities are designed for kids ages 3 through 5, but many can be modified for younger and older kids as well.
WHY IT’S FUN
With so many vibrant colors and sensory possibilities, kids can’t resist diving into playful leaf activities. This is particularly true if we can bring real leaves to them for hands-on exploration.
Any time we can use an object that kids have the opportunity to interact with and explore regularly we’re allowing them to make meaningful connections that they’ll be able to recall often as they see and use those objects again. There are also a wide variety of sensory activities to explore when doing a leaf theme.
WHEN TO TEACH A LEAF THEME
There are leaves around all year long, but we prefer to save this theme for fall. If you live in an area where leaves change colors, kids can experience this change right alongside your theme activities. You’ll also find leaf manipuliatives and other fall-themed materials at the best prices during these times as well.
TEACHING TIPS & MAJOR CONCEPTS KIDS WILL LEARN
If you’re planning a preschool leaf theme there are many possibilities for incorporating meaningful early learning skills.
These are just some of the concepts kids can learn about during a leaf theme:
- Their senses as they explore real leaves
- Different kinds of plants
- Parts of a plant
- Different kinds of leaves and the plants they come from
- Life cycle of a tree
- Parts of a tree
- Physical properties of leaves
- Leaves we eat and leaves we don’t
- Why leaves change color
- How leaves help plants
- How leaves help us
You can also use real leaves or leaf manipulatives for many learning activities to teach math and literacy concepts.
ITEMS TO COLLECT AND REQUEST IN ADVANCE
If you get parents, friends, and family involved you can enrich the experience kids have during your preschool leaf theme.
Collect or ask people to help you collect:
- real leaves (If kids can’t bring them in locally, maybe ask if any relatives or family friends can mail some.)
- plants with different kinds of leaves (or photos of plants with different kinds of leaves)
- photos from trips taken when the leaves were changing
- fall-inspired gardening related tools for pretend play (baskets, fake leaves, farmer’s hats, small toy rakes, toy leaf blowers or DIY leaf blowers)
You might even invite special guests (or go visit if you can) to come and share about fields and hobbies related to leaves and trees. You could include:
- an arborist (to share about different kinds of trees, how to care for trees, and how to help sick trees)
- a tree trimmer (to share about times it is good to trim trees and why)
PRINTABLE LEAF THEME LESSON PLANS
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
This set currently includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:
1) Roll and Say Fall ABC Game (uppercase and lowercase versions)
2) Roll and Count Leaves Math Game
3) Small Leaf Cards for Sorting and Patterning
4) Sight Word Trees Activity Mats, Letter Cards, and Sight Word Cards
5) Color Word Leaf Cards
6) Leaf Number Cards (0-35)
7) Sorting Leaves Color Mats and Leaf Cards
8) Fall Leaves Emergent Reader (3 versions)
9) Leaf Observation Recording Sheet
GET YOUR LESSON PLANS
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
RELATED FALL PRINTABLES
Our September Writing Journal Prompts include both general fall prompts and leaf theme prompts.
INDIVIDUAL LEAF ACTIVITY IDEAS ON FANTASTIC FUN AND LEARNING
Here on Fantastic Fun and Learning we’ve shared the following ideas to go along with a preschool leaf theme.
Use manipulatives to count, add or subtract with this fall trees math activity.
Get moving as you practice counting or beginning addition with this falling leaves math game.
Experiment with gravity in this falling leaves art and science activity.
Explore color mixing and fall colors with this rolling pin fall leaf process art favorite.
Have little ones who want to get in on the process art fun? Make your own taste-safe paint in fall colors.
Set out this simple fall tree sticker scene invitation to encourage creativity and drawing.
Kids of all ages can join in to make fall leaf suncatchers. They look AMAZING as the sunshines through them hanging in windows!
Gather nature objects to create your own leaf people (or other creations)!
Engage those fine motor muscles as you create leafy fall name art.
Bleeding art tissue paper makes fabulous fall leaf prints in this fall tree craft.
Gather fall leaves and watercolors for this gorgeous fall leaf printmaking art project.
Use some of your nature objects and real or fake leaves to make an autumn leaves sensory bin.
Explore color mixing in this fall tree art project.
Make your own DIY leaf stamps. Then use them for fall art projects.
Use red and yellow tomatoes to represent leaves in this healthy fall tree snack.
MORE ACTIVITIES FROM CREATIVE EDUCATORS
The colors of fall make gorgeous art. Try some of these fall process art activities.
For even more art project inspiration see 24 creative fall leaf art project for kids here.
INFORMATIONAL YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Autumn means leaves are turning different shades of red, orange, and yellow and falling to the ground. But why? Jessi from SciShow Kids takes you deep inside a leaf to explain!
Watch this science demonstration to see how less chlorophyll results in the changing of color in leaves.
This video includes a ton of actual photos and video clips of fall leaves as the narrator provides a soothing explanation about how leaves change in fall.
Why do leaves change color? Learn about different types of trees, their pigments, and the chemical changes that occur in autumn leaves that give trees their beautiful fall colors! The vocabulary used in this video is a bit advanced for preschoolers, but if you have little ones particularly interested in learning more about why leaves change color it will provide more information to feed their curiosity.
Get moving as you sing along to Autumn Leaves Are Falling Down from The Learning Station.
Count to three and identify fall colors in this counting song. Use it as a quick introduction to other math activities.
OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES
Finger plays and action rhymes are a great addition to your preschool themes. Here are a few terrific options to go along with a leaf theme.
Choose from a wide variety of teacher submitted finger plays and songs on Preschool Education.
The Leaves of the Trees from Growing Book by Book includes a free printable song sheet and an activity that is great for circle time.
If you’d like to supplement your hands-on learning with some online games you might try:
Match the Leaves with Caillou from PBS Kids
FAVORITE LEAF BOOKS
Affiliate links included.
There are a ton of wonderful books to read for your leaf theme. Below are some of our favorite picture books for a leaf theme.
Bring the colors of fall to your kids with real photographs and nonfiction texts even if you can’t experience the changing colors in person.
MORE FALL BOOKS
OTHER PROPS AND TEACHING TOOLS
Reinforce learning with these hands-on materials for your leaf theme. They can be used for sensory bins, crafts, and learning activitis.
Practice basic math facts with this free printable roll and color fall addition activity, or purchase the full Fall Leaves Roll and Color set to practice a wide variety of early math skills.
Grab an acorn for this free printable leaf alphabet activity. Use it to practice letter recognition or letter sounds.
Practice 2D shapes with this fall leaves roll and say math game.
POSSIBLE FIELD TRIPS OR ADVENTURES
If you’re close enough, visit a farm, park or other location where you can play in fall leaves.
As you wrap up your preschool leaf theme take note of what the kids were most interested in throughout the theme. Continue on by investigating one of those concepts more in depth. Below are some possible suggestions. Themes we have printable lesson plans for include links after them.
- Apples-Lesson plans available for home preschool and coming soon for preschool classrooms.
- Pumpkins-Lesson plans available for home preschool and preschool classrooms.
- Farm-Lesson plans available for home preschool and coming soon for preschool classrooms.
- Trees-Lesson plans available for home preschool and coming soon for preschool classrooms.