Autumn Activities for Teachers
With such dramatic changes to the world outside, autumn is the best time of year for encouraging your pupils to engage with nature. We’ve gathered our favourite autumn activities and split them into 3 handy sections; Activities for Younger Pupils, Exploring Hibernation and Adaptation, and Getting Artistic. Take a look at our fun, educational activities below, and share your own autumn activities in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Autumn Activities for Younger Pupils
Go on a bear hunt
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, is still hugely popular today and it gives us a great way to wrap up warm and get outside. Form a line in the playground and read the book out loud. Get your pupils to use their imaginations to act out how they would have reacted to and overcome each obstacle. They need to think about how they walk through long grass, cross a river, wade through mud, go through a dark, scary forest and get through a snow storm. They could even act out running away from the bear! This great activity helps children to think about different habitats and weather, as well as getting some fresh air.
Autumn Nature Table
If you don’t have much outdoor space, or the weather is too bad to go outside, why not bring nature inside and create an autumn table? There are lots of things you could use including;
Conkers (with and without their spiky cases)
Sycamore seeds (spinning jennies)
Lots and lots of different autumnal leaves
This is a great way for pupils to encounter the sight, smells and textures of autumn.
This simple activity gives you a great way to talk about leaves falling from the trees in autumn and create a collaborative piece of art for your class. Dip the lower part of your arm and hand into some brown paint palm-downwards, then press it onto an A3 or A2 piece of paper to create the trunk and bare branches of the tree. Then ask your pupils to add the leaves by dipping their fingers into red, orange, yellow and brown paint then finger printing onto the tree. Remember, in autumn most of the leaves will be on the floor around the bottom of the tree trunk, with just a few left on the branches.
Another simple activity for younger pupils is creating autumnal leaf crowns. Using brown or orange sugar paper or thin card, create circular headbands for each pupil. Your pupils should then go outside and collect dried leaves that have fallen off the trees. If you don’t have access to trees at school, you could collect these in advance from your local park or garden. Your pupils can then use glue or sellotape to attach the leaves to their headbands to create crowns.
Explore Hibernation and Adaptation
In autumn many UK species go into hibernation. Why not look at some of the places where animals, such as Hedgehogs, dormice, bees and frogs hibernate? What makes a good place to settle down for winter? If your class has been studying hibernation, why not get them to create dens for themselves to hide in? If you have an outdoor space you could do this outside with branches, or why not use everyday objects like chairs, blankets and cushions to create cosy dens in the classroom or school hall?
Instead of imitating wildlife, why not help it by creating ideal places to hibernate? Older pupils can develop their DIY skills and build a professional looking hedgehog house by following The Wildlife Trust’s instructions. Younger pupils can create rustic hedgehog-friendly spaces by piling small logs and twigs together, leaving gaps for small animals to get in and out of the pile.
It’s not just small mammals that hibernate during late autumn and winter, but bees and insects too. It’s really easy to create a hibernaculum for insects. Remove the top and bottom of a 2 litre bottle to leave a 20cm long plastic tube. Pack the tube with twigs or cut lengths of bamboo cane and pine cones. Rolled up corrugated cardboard works well too. Either place your hibernaculum somewhere sheltered, or tie string around it and hand it from a tree so that the twigs and cane are horizontal.
In winter, birds may need a helping hand to get through the harsh weather. A constant supply of food is important to keep fat levels up and keep warm through the winter months. Whilst birds are well-adapted to survive the winter in the UK, why not open a bird café to give them a helping hand?
This gives you a great opportunity to discuss adaptation. You will need bird feeders and a bird table and a good range of different bird foods. This could include bird cakes and bars, as well as sunflower seeds, nyger seeds, mealworms, lard, cooked rice and uncooked oats. Your pupils will love to see the different birds that visit the café. You could even keep a list of all the sightings.
Autumn leaves are great for creating collages. Ask your pupils to bring as many autumn leaves into school as possible. Make sure you bring lots in yourself, as some pupils may not have a garden or access to a green space. Your pupils can either create their own individual collages on A3 or A2 paper. Or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, create a huge class collage to fill a display board. The autumnal colours are perfect for creating images of foxes, red squirrels and hedgehogs.
Painting with Leaves
Autumn is a great time for pupils to explore their creativity. Why not ask your pupils to create autumnal paintings, but instead of paint brushes, use leaves to apply the paint? Which type of leaves are easiest to paint with? What effects do the different types of leaves create?
Land art or earth art is art that is made directly in the landscape, sculpting the land itself into earthworks or making structures in the landscape using natural materials such as rocks or twigs. It’s a simple effect to recreate in the classroom or playground, using pebbles and fallen leaves. Introduce your pupils to the works of Andy Goldsworthy, Elisabeth Wierzbicka and Robert Smithson for inspiration.
We hope you love our autumn activities! Don’t forget to tell us about your favourite autumn activities in the comments section below.
It may only be the beginning of November, but no doubt you’re already planning what to do with your class this Christmas. If you’re struggling for ideas, take a look at some of ours! We’ve come up with great ideas for activities, displays, educational films and pupil gifts to help you get ready for Christmas.
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