An Autumn Birthday Board, Created by Children

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ~ Lauren DeStefano

I’ve probably said this before, but autumn is my favourite time of year.  Fall provides such rich opportunities to encourage children to explore tangible and observable seasonal changes and to reveal what they know already about things like leaves and colours.  There are so many beautiful and unusual leaves and leaf shapes to compare, count and sort.  Children can learn the names of a variety of familiar colours – green, red, orange, gold, yellow, brown.  The links that can be made between science and creative art are endless.  Think of all the conversations you can have while cutting out and painting the leaves.  What an opportunity for educators to bring the splendour of autumn into the classroom and make it a logical and natural part of the curriculum for children!

Recently in my classroom, the children participated in creating a lovely autumn birthday board – a project that took nearly a week when we take all the steps involved into account.  Without a doubt it would have been easier to make a display using pre-made leaf shapes, month and name cards.  Although more time and effort are required to engage children in making each of these things, the rewards are far greater – in terms of the skills that children gain as they practice cutting out leaf shapes with scissors, as they discover what happens when two different paint colours are combined, as they explore painting with sponges, as they print the names of each month, as well as their own name.

 

On the surface, it may seem that children are simply doing a fun, open-ended art activity, but in reality so much more is going on.  They are also strengthening their fine motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination as they learn to manipulate scissors, paint brushes and markers.  They are making their own choices about how to paint – should they fill in the entire leaf with broad brush strokes or dab with the sponge to make individual spots?  They are gaining rich language skills, not simply by printing words, but by sharing their thoughts and ideas as you talk to them.  As an added bonus, children can have the satisfaction of taking pride in the work they did to make their classroom beautiful and to feel some ownership over their learning environment.

What could be better than that?

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