Engage Your Students’ Senses with These Fun and Educational Autumn Montessori Activities and Printables

As fall approaches, preschool and kindergarten-aged children can learn about the season’s earthy colors and observe the changes in nature. This is an opportunity for them to improve their literacy, numeracy, and fine motor skills through activities that match the season. By engaging in fun and educational activities, children can learn about the changes that come with fall while improving their skills in essential early childhood subjects.

One of the great advantages for children who grow up in a Montessori-inspired environment – is exposure to real-life materials and tools. The secret is to allow children the opportunity and freedom to experience the benefits of simple everyday tasks we, adults do so effortlessly, in a safe environment without being rushed.

For example, in a Montessori-inspired classroom, children are given access to pint-sized brooms, dustpans, and mops so that they can learn how to tidy up after themselves. They also have the opportunity to handle real-life tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, and saws under the guidance of an adult. This exposure helps them develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

In an environment like this, children are encouraged to be responsible for their own surroundings through practical life exercises such as preparing their own snack or water for drinking. They are taught the importance of cleaning up after themselves and maintaining order in their space.

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Through this approach, children learn not only how to accomplish daily tasks but also how to take care of their own needs. They develop a sense of independence and self-mastery as they are encouraged to make their own choices and take responsibility for their actions.

Overall, exposing children to real-life materials and tools in a Montessori-inspired environment is not only practical but also essential in fostering their development and growth. It helps them gain valuable life skills that they will carry with them into adulthood.

We can allow them the freedom to create “life” with their own hands and afford time and space for making mistakes, correcting them, and perfecting their skills without pressure. It takes a lot of effort from our side as well, doesn’t it?

Yes, it certainly does take effort on our part as well. We need to provide materials, tools, and resources that allow children to explore their creative side and develop their skills. We also need to be available to guide and support them as they work through challenges and make mistakes along the way. It can be a time-consuming and sometimes messy process, but the benefits for the child’s overall development and self-confidence are well worth it.

Here are some ideas to inspire you to have real-life experiences with your children this fall.

Bake an apple pie together ( who doesn’t love the smell of cinnamon and baking apples?.. yum)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups sliced apples
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt, and cinnamon together.
  3. Add butter to the bowl and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Gradually add the cold water to the mixture, stirring gently, until the dough comes together.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to fit the prepared pie dish, then place it in the dish.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together granulated sugar, sliced apples, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until the apples are evenly coated.
  7. Pour the apple mixture over the crust.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender.
  9. Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy your delicious homemade apple pie with cinnamon!

Explore fall outdoors and observe changes in nature

Compare leaf colors, open and examine seed pods, crush leaves, spot different animals and creatures, build fire and make an apple tea together. Once you are back inside, remind your children to draw their observations and impressions.

Sew a tablecloth with beautiful simple fall patterns together

Allow every child to contribute to the project.

Materials:

  • Plain white or light-colored tablecloth (can be purchased or made from fabric)
  • Fabric markers or fabric paint in fall colors (orange, yellow, brown, red)
  • Assorted fall-themed stencils (leaves, acorns, pumpkins, apples, etc.)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Pencils

Instructions:

  1. Before starting the project, decide on the size of the tablecloth that will work best for your classroom. Cut or purchase a plain white or light-colored tablecloth to fit.
  2. Gather all the materials needed in the classroom, including fabric markers or paint in fall colors, stencils, painter’s tape, and pencils.
  3. Explain to the children that they will be creating a beautiful fall-themed tablecloth together. Encourage them to share their ideas and work together to come up with a design. You can also use pictures of fall leaves or other items as inspiration.
  4. Begin by using painter’s tape to secure the tablecloth to a flat surface. This will keep it in place while the children work.
  5. Ask each child to pick a fall-themed stencil that they would like to use. You can make your own stencils using cardboard or purchase them from a craft store. Place the stencil on the tablecloth and secure it in place with painter’s tape.
  6. Use fabric markers or paint to trace the stencil onto the tablecloth. Encourage each child to use a different color for their stencil design to add variety to the tablecloth.
  7. After each child has completed their stencil, remove it from the tablecloth and move on to the next one. Repeat until the entire tablecloth is covered in fall-themed patterns.
  8. Once the designs are complete, allow the tablecloth to dry thoroughly. Then, use a warm iron to press the fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Place the tablecloth in a prominent place in the classroom, and use it during your fall celebrations and activities. The children will feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment seeing their work displayed for all to enjoy.

Find live inspiration outside for drawing lesson – invite children to draw changes they observe in nature

Invite children to take a nature walk in a nearby park or forest during autumn. Ask them to observe the changes they see in the trees, leaves, and surroundings. Encourage them to notice the colors, shapes, and textures of the foliage, the animals scurrying about, and the overall atmosphere of the season.

After the walk, bring the children back to a comfortable space and ask them to create a drawing or painting that represents what they saw and felt during the walk. Provide them with various materials, like watercolors, pencils, or markers, to add depth and detail to their artwork.

As they work on their pieces, ask them questions about their observations and encourage them to express their emotions through their art. Display the finished pieces in a mural or gallery setting to showcase the beauty and diversity of nature during autumn.

Organize a pumpkin washing station

Materials needed:

  • Pumpkins
  • Large bowl or bucket
  • Water
  • Scrub brush
  • Towels or cloths
  • Tray or platter for clean pumpkins

Steps:

  1. Set up a designated area in the classroom for the pumpkin washing station.
  2. Fill a large bowl or bucket with water.
  3. Place a scrub brush next to the bowl or bucket.
  4. Set out towels or cloths nearby for drying the clean pumpkins.
  5. Show the child how to select a pumpkin and carry it carefully to the washing station.
  6. Demonstrate how to scrub the pumpkin with the brush, using gentle back-and-forth motions.
  7. Show the child how to rinse the pumpkin in the water, making sure all the dirt and debris is removed.
  8. Demonstrate how to dry the pumpkin with a towel or cloth.
  9. Place the clean pumpkin on a tray or platter for display.
  10. When finished, pour the dirty water out and clean and dry the tools and materials used for the activity.
  11. Clean up the area and return all materials to their proper place.
  12. Invite the child to take a turn.

Extensions:

Have the child sort the pumpkins by size or color before washing them.

Use the clean pumpkins for a pumpkin carving activity or as decorations for the classroom.

Encourage the child to draw or write about their experience washing pumpkins.

Create a leaf garland with fallen leaves

Materials:

  • A basket or tray for collecting fallen leaves
  • Thread or string
  • Needle (optional, for older children)
  • Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Begin by taking the children outside to collect fallen leaves. This is a great opportunity to discuss the changing seasons and the life cycle of trees.
  2. Once you have collected enough leaves, sort them by size, shape, and color. Encourage the children to examine the leaves and identify the various types of trees they may have come from.
  3. Cut a piece of thread or string to the desired length for your garland. You can make it as long or as short as you like, depending on the space you have available.
  4. Thread the needle (if using) and tie a knot at one end of the string. If you are not using a needle, you can simply tie the leaves onto the string with knots.
  5. Begin tying the leaves onto the string, spacing them out evenly. You can alternate colors and sizes, or group similar leaves together.
  6. Once you have tied all the leaves onto the string, tie a knot at the other end to secure them in place.
  7. Hang the garland in the classroom or outside on a tree, fence, or railing. Encourage the children to observe the garland and the leaves as they dry and change over time.

Extensions:

  • Use the leaf garland as a backdrop for a nature table or display.
  • Have the children practice sorting and classifying the leaves by different attributes, such as shape, color, or texture.
  • Explore different kinds of leaves and trees that grow in your local area.
  • Create a leaf rubbing activity using the collected leaves.

Make a table arrangement with pine cones and dry seeds

Materials:

  • A medium-sized tray
  • Fresh pine cones
  • Dry seeds of different types and colors (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia)
  • Optional: tweezers, small scoops or spoons

Steps:

  1. Start by spreading the pine cones evenly on the tray, making sure there is enough space between them for the seeds.
  2. Place the dry seeds in small piles next to the pine cones, arranging them in a visually appealing way. You can mix different types of seeds or keep them separate.
  3. Encourage children to use their hands to pick up the seeds and place them on the pine cones, or use tools like tweezers and scoops to refine their motor skills.
  4. Show children how to use the tray to catch any stray seeds that might fall off, and encourage them to sweep or brush them off once they’re done.
  5. Remind children that the pine cones and seeds are natural materials and should be handled with care and respect.

This table arrangement can be used as a simple but engaging activity to introduce children to the concepts of sorting, counting, and fine motor coordination. It can also be expanded upon depending on the age and skill level of the children, by adding additional tools for scooping, sorting, or measuring, or encouraging them to make patterns or designs with the seeds.

Organize apple coring and peeling activity

Setup:
Gather materials – apples, apple corer and peeler, bowls, towels, and trays, etc.
Prepare the workspace – cover the table with a plastic or vinyl tablecloth to make cleaning easier.
Demonstrate to the children the proper way to use the corer and peeler.

Inviting the children:
Ensure all the materials are arranged neatly and attractively on the table. Place the trays with pre-peeled and cored apples at the center of the table.
Encourage the children to join the activity.
Explain the steps involved in coring and peeling an apple.

The activity:
Demonstrate to the children how to wash the apple before coring it.
Show how to hold and twist the corer to remove the core.
Demonstrate how to hold the peeler to remove the skin of the apple.
Invite the children to take turns coring and peeling the apples.
Give individual assistance, if necessary, ensuring each child has a turn to participate.

Clean-up:
Demonstrate how to clean the corer and peeler.
Encourage children to place the apple peelings and cores in a compost bin.
Assist children to tidy up the workspace by wiping the table and putting the materials back in their proper space.

Presentation:
Provide a tray of the prepared apple slices for snack time.
Invite the children to enjoy their apple slices and congratulate them on their hard work.
Encourage the children to reflect on the activity – what did they learn, how did they feel performing the activity, etc.

Create a fall collage with natural treasures

  1. Collect natural materials: Gather a variety of materials that represent the fall season such as leaves, acorns, pinecones, twigs, and dried flowers. Encourage students to explore their outdoor environment and gather these materials in a gentle and respectful manner.
  2. Arrange and sort: Provide a large tray, a piece of cloth, or a paper sheet as a base for your collage. Help your students categorize the materials by color, texture, size, or shape, and lay them out on the tray. Allow them to experiment with different arrangements until they are satisfied with their composition.
  3. Glue and label: Once the students have decided on their design, provide glue and a brush or stick to attach the materials to the base. Encourage them to use a minimal amount of glue and arrange the materials in a way that respects their natural shape and form. Label the collage with the date, location, and students’ names.
  4. Display and observe: Find a prominent place in your classroom where the collage can be displayed and appreciated by everyone. Observe the changes in the materials over time, and encourage the students to share their observations and insights.

By creating a fall collage with natural treasures in your classroom, you are providing a multi-sensory and holistic learning experience that fosters curiosity, creativity, and appreciation for the natural world.

Invite children to share their favorite fall memory with their group of peers

Gather the children in a circle or small group.

Briefly introduce the topic by explaining that fall is a special time of year, and that everyone has memories of past fall seasons that they cherish.

Encourage the children to think about their own favorite fall memory, and give them a few moments to reflect.

Starting with one child, invite each child to share their memory with the group.

After each child shares, encourage the other children to ask questions or offer comments about the memory.

Continue around the circle or group until every child has had a chance to share.

Conclude the activity by thanking the children for sharing their memories, and reinforcing the idea that each person’s memories are unique and special.

Fall learning quiet activities for preschool and kindergarten children

Fall activity trays for work shelves make for a great opportunity to keep those little fingers busy. I created a couple of fall/autumn packs and individual printables that help to explore the essence of this inspiring season.

Painting fall leaves on a tree is a great opportunity for children to experiment with mixing different colors to make gorgeous tones of earthy orange, deep green, and brown colors.

This is a fun pairing activity for young preschoolers – great for working on their concentration abilities. When laminated, I invite the child to trace silhouettes of one-tone pictures using dry erase pens.

This activity is designed for coloring using dot markers. We decided to make it a transferring activity instead.

This color sorting activity also can inspire children to create their own book of fall colors either using these cards or drawing their own fall treasures for each color they choose.

Coloring puzzles are wonderful for allowing children to practice cutting, putting pieces together, and coloring pictures.

Match-up cards with fall elements can inspire children to draw their own illustrations using watercolors or pastels.

DIY jigsaw puzzles with 4 or 6 parts are perfect for little ones aged 3 and 4.

Clip cards allow children to practice counting while they are working on their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Kindergarten children may be curious to learn what fall looks like and how it differs across the seven continents.

Harvest 3 part cards introduce children to new vocabulary and indirectly teach spelling and allow children to practice reading. Children can be invited to build new words they learned using the moveable alphabet or create fall stories using these cards as props.

Parts of the hedgehog cards are accompanied by a student booklet print out for coloring, tracing, or independent writing.

Children get fascinated with animals and their tracks. These cards can be a fun reference tool for them to make animal tracks on playdough using sticks and their little fingers.

Children benefit greatly from learning about their body, the way it functions. These cards help them to identify the five senses they use to explore the world around them and practice categorizing skills.

I spy activities are especially beneficial for developing deeper concentration as students have to really focus on counting the elements of fall quantities.

We love using vocabulary cards to teach preschool children new words by playing matching or memory games.

Mushroom 3 part cards provide an exciting opportunity to talk to children about edible and poisonous mushrooms, their benefits, and nutritional value, and discuss all the different ways we can use them in cooking.

Apple life cycle is always a great way to extend on harvest unit and introduce children to the sequencing activities and teach hands-on science. This printable is included in my Food-themed pack.

I also had so much fun designing this farm set of printables for our young friends.

The fall season is such a whimsical time of the year with so many opportunities for explorations and discoveries.

other fall printables you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.