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Discovering Fall In The Florida Classroom
There Once Was A Florida Palm Tree ...
Great Children's Books On Fall
Teaching Fall in Florida Classrooms
Being from the Midwest, my favorite time of year is the fall. I love the change of leaves from green to red, orange, yellow, and even brown. There's nothing like a walk through the woods to enjoy the cooler weather and feel the crunch of leaves beneath your feet as you walk.
As a teacher, I often wonder why we rush the curriculum through this season. Too quickly, we transfer our classroom curriculum from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Important as the autumn holidays are, children lose the opportunity to learn about fall through science, art, literature, dramatic play and writing activities if we ignore seasonal changes. And, if you live in Florida your first hand knowledge of the season is quite limited, but fall changes do exist.
I have posted a photo of a poem a creative early childhood teacher in western Florida wrote and hung on her preschool classroom wall It reads as follows:
"There once was a palm tree who grew very tall.
It lived in the South in a Florida fall.
The leaves never changed the color always green.
But it wanted to move north to change colors of a dream.
Northern trees change colors, the tree had been told, of stories from birds escaping the cold.
Colors the palm tree desired were yellow, orange, and red but without any legs the palm tree stayed green instead"
The children loved reciting this poem in morning circle because they could relate to the desire of wanting to see the northern colors of fall.
Signs Of Fall In Florida
It may not seen evident to many, but Florida does have some changes that indicate the cooler temperatures are around the corner. Here are just a few that teachers can discuss in class.
- The humidity is lower during this season.
- The Sweetgum tree turns shades of orange, red and yellow.
- The Hickory Ash tree will display yellow leaves.
- The American kestral, a hawk-like bird, returns to Florida.
- The migratory flight of the Sandhill crane is noticed as they call to one another overhead.
- The grass does not grow as quickly and the lawnmower is used less.
source: news.ufl.edu, 1996
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Bringing It All Together In The Classroom
Creating a thematic content for learning is fun and rewarding for the teacher, child, and parent. A fall classroom can enhance curriculum and engage children in creative fun learning activities . Here are some ideas:
- Turn your dramatic play area into an outdoor farm market. Have small pumpkins, indian corn, squash of different variety in baskets for purchase. Set up a cash register and have cloth bags or baskets for shoppers. Provide a pitcher and glasses for pretend apple cider samples
- In your science/math area display colorful leaf cutouts (or have your northern friends send a variety of real leaves of color and different types). Provide small magnifying glasses for observation. You can also have them make a chart on leaf colors and types.
- To encourage a love of reading, have colorful leaf posters on the wall and set out straw bales for sitting (Yes, this is messy but fun for the children). There are so many wonderful children's books on the season. Ask parents to lend books from home or donate new ones. Include colorful picture books from the library on trees in your center.
- The art crafts are endless and vary from simple leaf rubbings to collage activities which build fine motor skills and artistic expression. Glue apple or pumpkin seeds on the letter of the week (A or P would be great for this activity).
- At snack time, set the tables with vinyl leaf patterned tablecloths. Serve apple cider, apple slices, pumpkin seeds, or zucchini sticks with a honey dip. Talk about how these foods are part of the fall harvest and the healthy benefits they give our bodies.
Extend the learning outside the classroom, take a walk and point out how the Florida foliage and flowers have changed. Discuss the difference in temperature and how the sun is setting earlier. (Believe it or not, sweaters and are worn in Florida in the fall!)
Involve parents as well in the learning process. Send home "Fall Book Bags" complete with a book, coloring page, a simple fall math (i.e., count small pumpkin erasers and chart the results) or art project. Suggest parent and child do some research on the computer for fall colors, trees that change color, fall clothing or weather patterns. This will build classroom community and strengthen family involvement.
I hope you agree that teaching fall in a Florida classroom can be exciting!