Autumn is a fantastic time for schools. From the Kindergartners to the seniors in high school, this season is ripe with possibilities for every classroom.
At the high school level, football is in full swing. The semester is still young but it is full to the brim with fall foliage, the smells of apple pies, pumpkin pies, pep rallies, and new friendships, still developing, excitement all around.
At the elementary level, the change in the seasons is celebrated in classrooms every day. All of the great stories about fall are read, from little lost bears, to kissing hands, to Lois Ehlert’s richly illustrated books about trees, leaves, and critters.
The trees that have begun to show their multi-hued palettes of reds, gold, yellows, and oranges keep young children enthralled. The biggest question they have is how and where did these colors come from?
The simple answer is that the shorter days, which mean less sunlight, trigger the trees to start cutting the leaves off from the food making process. The green color, chlorophyll, gives way to the colors underneath. The trees begin to harden the connection of the leaves to the branches, which ultimately leads to them dropping off. Which leaf will be the last to fall?
In the best of autumn days, the children will be outside and a gentle wind will cause a cascade of falling leaves for them them to romp through. A few piles of leaves, raked up, simply cannot be ignored, and need to be jumped in. It’s beyond fantastic, and a memory that most adults still have.
In the classrooms, leaves that have been gathered up become instant art projects. Leaves are pressed. They’re strung together or hot glued in to thin wreaths.
A blank piece of paper placed over a leaf, with the vein side up, is easily rubbed with a crayon. Doing this with several leaves, with different colors, on one piece of paper produces a fine art piece that deserves a place on the fridge.
Mixing red and yellow acrylic paint on a heavy piece of white paper, and cutting out leaf shapes that are printed on the other side provide an in the classroom, on the bulletin board autumn display of magnificent color.
Pumpkins are painted and displayed. A trip to the pumpkin patch is always good. The lines on the pumpkin are estimated, then counted. The pumpkin’s circumference is guessed at with lengths of yarn. The seeds inside the pumpkin are removed, washed, and roasted.
Thanksgiving is written about and read about. Different family traditions are shared, many different construction paper turkeys are made. Hand turkeys are traced and colorful feathers added. Pilgrims and Indians make appearances. Plays are produced, watched, and applauded.
The Thanksgiving break pulls it all together in homes throughout the country. It just doesn’t get much better.
Offer to help out in the classroom of your young children. It really is important. Go to the games of your older ones. Participate in whatever way you can. It’s a truly special time of year in school.