November 15, 2015

October Activity Roundup for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Last month was amazing and so much fun. We had such beautiful weather and there was so much to see and do with the three little ones. I don't think I've enjoyed my favorite season this much in years.!

We really soaked up the changing leaves and the weather cooling down (although we also enjoyed the 70* weather in the first week of November). Having a big kid here to do all my favorite activities with has added so much to the fun. Between Halloween, pumpkins and leaves we were super busy playing, learning and creating.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in October!

Nature Walks and Collecting Treasures

Nature walks are awesome in any season but the fall in Upstate NY makes it extra special.  We are lucky to live near a park and in a neighborhood that are filled with tons of different trees. I love taking pictures of the colors and talking with the kids about the how and why of the change. This is prime nature collection time too with the branches, leaves, acorns and pine cones falling all over the place.  There's so much to see and do that you don't even need a ball or a playground to have fun outside in the fall.


Nature Collection Exploration Box

After we have a decent stockpile of nature items I put them into bins or boxes to explore. We had a look at tons of acorns, pine cones, leaves, sticks, rocks and pumpkins through out the season.

Preschooler: We talk about colors, shapes, sizes and textures. I added tongs and buckets for some transferring practice. Later we added beans and rice for a more sensory-ish bin as well as some foam letters and shapes for R to find and match.

Toddler: We explored the real stuff a few times then I swapped it for some fake leaves and added random objects for them to find including small pumpkins, letter blocks and animals.


Leaf Creations

Not only were the colors incredible this year but we had an overabundance of leaves - I think I collected well over 500 over the month!  Aside from using them in our sensory bins and just playing with them we had fun creating with them too:

Rubbings and Prints: 

We made leaf rubbings with crayons and leaf prints by painting the bumpy side of the leaf and pressing it on to paper.

Leaf Changing Book: 

We started this one the first week of Fall back in September. I found a great book that explains why the leaves change and wanted to document the change as best as we could. We started collecting them while they were still green from the backyard and the park. Each week we would try to find leaves of the same shape and size and note if they had changed yet. We displayed them to watch the progression and at the end of week 4 I wrapped them in contact paper and stapled them together to finish our book.


Dye Coffee Filters with Fall Colors

Preschool: We used fall colors to dye coffee filters. We started using just red and yellow and watching them mix into orange, then added orange to brighten it up a bit. We experimented with mixing colors and I gave R a dropper to try too. I traced leaves onto a few and cut them out to make a falling leaf decoration.

Toddler: I didn't get pictures of it for some reason but I froze the dyed water into ice cube trays and had the girls slide them around in bins on paper. They were more interested in touching and tasting them but they made some cool designs too! We also took some of the coffee filters and balled them up to toss around. They liked pulling them back apart too.


Fall Scented Play Dough

We used The Imagination Tree's awesome play dough recipe because it is easy to make and the play dough is super soft and lasts forever! We added some pumpkin spice and green or orange food coloring. We will use it all season in different ways.

Preschool: I added some of our nature collection items and other odds and ends to explore. We made monsters and cut out leaf prints with dull plastic knives. Closer to Halloween I printed monster play dough mats and added lots of odds and ends to make monsters.

Toddler: The girls wanted little to do with the play dough and were more interested in the leaves and plastic bags. I did get them to roll it a little in their hands before they started eating it!

Painting With Fall Colors

Preschool: We talk about how and why the leaves are changing colors as the season changes and what colors we start to see as the world turns from green to orange, yellow, red and brown. We used a ball of foil for a cool fall tree effect and did a lot of free paint with these colors throughout the month.

Toddler: I gave them a small amount of red, orange, yellow and white paint in a few cups and some brushes with paper. It took them all of 2 seconds to move on to painting the mirror. I let them have at it and it added a whole new fun dimension to their play.

Cutting and Pasting Jack o'Lanterns

Preschooler: We used our coffee filters from before and some orange paper to practice cutting. R (who is a rock star at using scissors) free cut and followed lines I drew while I cut out some shapes with black paper. We talked about the shapes while he glued them on to the coffee filters to make Jack o'Lanterns and whatever else he could come up with!

Toddler: I gathered up the scraps from R's cutting and the extra jack o'lantern shapes and put them in a box for the girls to sift through. I gave them white paper that I had painted glue onto and showed them how to stick the scraps on and they made their own fall color creations. They loved sticking and unsticking them. 

Measuring and Weighing Pumpkins

Preschooler: We've been singing the song Five Little Pumpkins all season so I tied that into this activity. I bought pumpkins here and there over the season and ended up with a bunch of different sizes. I traced them in order by size on a few pieces of paper and taped it to the floor near the pile of pumpkins for R to find.  He came right over and started trying to figure out how to match them up. We sang the song and talked about size and cardinal and ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd). We got out my bathroom and kitchen scales and a tape measure and talked about height and weight before it turned into rolling the pumpkins all around the room!

Toddler: The girls ripped our paper as soon as they woke up so R organized the pumpkins by size for them and we sang Five Little Pumpkins. Then they all started stacking them and R showed them how to roll them around.

Ghostly Footprints

As much as I love open ended art I also love creating seasonal keepsakes, especially using hand and footprints. This is one of my favorites. Just paint the kids' feet white and press it on to black paper. When it dries glue on some googly eyes and draw on a spooky mouth. So cute!

Painting Pumpkins


Preschooler: I wasn't going to attempt to carve a jack o'lantern with three kids running around so I looked up No-Carve pumpkin ideas and we decided to paint them. R and I looked at some pictures online to get ideas and created some beautiful works of art with tempera paint, paintbrushes and glitter. I clearly had fun with the glitter (the middle one is my sparkly rest time creation)!

Toddler: The girls loved this activity. For them I used washable paint in just a couple colors so it wouldn't turn into a brown mess. I used tape to put their letters on them to make a tape resist initial after the paint dried. Most of their paint came from them picking the pumpkins up then rolling them in it or mushing it all over with their hands. 

Making Masks

I love making masks for Halloween. Usually we look at some spooky stuff in books to get an idea of what they want. I offer half a paper plate and whatever color paint they want while I cut out the details. R wanted to be a monster so I cut hair and bolts and hunted down a good piece of string or shoe lace to tie the mask together. I poked a hole on each side and added shoelaces that tied in the back for the perfect fit. I meant to but never got around to making masks for the girls :( Next year!

Ghost Pancakes and other Halloweeny Food:


One of my favorite parts of Halloween is themed food. I thought of the pancakes that morning and instead of our usual blueberry pancakes I just put the pancake batter in a squeeze bottle and added blueberries or chocolate chips for eyes and a mouth.

The best part is that it's all about what you call the food so it's easy to turn an ordinary lunch into a spooky one. For lunch we had snake's eyeballs or boogers as R came up with (peas), brains on bread (english muffin pizza) and witch's toenails (quartered grapes)!


Going On a Witch Hunt


One of my favorite Halloween activities that I do every year! To us adults it sounds a little strange but only because we know about the real witch hunts. To a 3 year old it just sounds like a seasonal version of Going on a Bear Hunt. You use the traditional pattern of Going on a Bear Hunt (whatever you use, I've learned several over the years) and just change it to spooky stuff. Since it's Halloween you have to act it out too - lots of running, jumping and ducking!

We had to climb a tree filled with spiders and their webs, run through a cave filled with bats and a tunnel filled with ghosts before we got to the witch's house. We spied her big black hat, crooked nose and fingers and green, glowing eyes before we turned around and ran home. Every kid I've ever known loves this. You can sub anything you want too - ghost, zombie, vampire, monster hunt, whatever!

It's even better since I've been a Witch every year for Halloween forever. Don't you love my hat?

Our Favorite Songs:


Five Little Pumpkins  (Link includes a cute little printable!)

Five little pumpkins, sitting on a gate
The first one says "Oh my, it's getting late!"
The second one says, "There are witches in the air!"
The third one says, "But we don't care!"
The fourth one says, "Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one says, "It's time for some fun!"
Then "Wooooooo" went the wind and OUT! went the light
And they all rolled away on Halloween night

Grey Squirrel

Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, shake your bushy tail
Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, shake your bushy tail
Wrinkle up your little nose, crack a nut between your toes
Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, shake your bushy tail!

I'm a Nut

I'm a little acorn round, lying on the cold cold ground
Everybody steps on me, that is why I'm cracked you see
I'm a nut *click click*
I'm a nut *click click*
I'm a nut *click click*
and you're craaazy.

Our Favorite Books: 

(affiliate links!)

The Hallo-weiner
Llama Llama Trick or Treat
The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree
Cheerio's Halloween Book

We had so much fun this month and I'm happy to start a new series of full of our favorite monthly play, create and learn ideas!


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