Fall Foliage: Examples of Nature-Based Curriculum

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus


Fall is a rewarding time for a nature-based curriculum. It’s easy to bring the outdoors inside and to mirror the season of festive colors. Provocations that center around what is happening in the natural spaces around us foster children’s connections to the natural world. We provide a number of invitations to write, draw, and collage with leaves! We taped leaves to the easel paper, along with a paint palette mirroring the Fall foliage.



We even taped fabric leaves to the tops of ballpoint pens.                                                                                                                                            L & F invent a simple game that involves movement, surprise and joy. It’s a quintessential reminder of the value of “loose parts“– open-ended materials that can be used for a myriad of purposes– inviting children’s ingenuity. This game is of their own making and they navigate it seamlessly. They graciously take turns. One child places all the heavy felt leaves on the outside of the sheet canopy. The other child goes inside the canopy and shakes it until each leaf drops to the ground. Lots of laughter ensues. They switch roles. The leaf placer becomes the shaker and vice versa. The leaves fall to the ground. More laughter. What a joyful way to deepen their connection and meet their need for movement! J collects golden leaf treasures from the play yard, runs over to the fairy shelf, then carefully places each one.


We collect leaves to adorn our snack and activity tables. Left: Banana ghost pops for snack. Right: Flubber and pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters.


This peek-a-boo name-game started weeks ago at circle. It continues to be a joyful way to connect. In this case L & W, were thrilled to find enormous leaves around the corner from the play yard and immediately hid behind them. 

This stunning leaf art installation was found at Lower Macleay Trailhead, Portland, OR, a couple of days after the Pittsburgh Synagogue massacre. What a lovely way to affirm a targeted community. It feels especially powerful to encounter, given that this is a hike our preschoolers do each year.  Photo courtesy of Sheila Hamilton.

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