October. October is for noticing the little things in our lives that make them better. October doesn’t get the fanfare September does with the Back to School bashes. It’s not as revered as November with its traditions. And December is filled with celebrations. October is the perfect time to see the little things.
With October cooling our world and those little breezes beginning to rustle the trees, we’re about to have an endless supply of leaves to play in!
I know….rake, rake, rake! But we’re becoming great at seeing these everyday activities as incredible learning fun!
It may look like your child is just having fun outside, but, in fact, you will be masterminding an afternoon of sensory play- touch, movement, body awareness, and visual/motor.
How can something as little and simple as leaves do all this?
Children develop their sense of touch (tactile) by learning the differences in smooth and rough, soft and crunchy, even how much pressure they can use before they crush the leaves. All these skills are important in developing fine motor skills and writing.
The sense of movement (vestibular sense) helps children recognize their surroundings and move in them safely. Jumping into piles of leaves and throwing leaves into the air help children develop this sensory system-and it’s fun!
The proprioceptive sense is responsible for body awareness. As children rake and gather leaves, they begin to recognize the pressure that is being exerted on their joints-which provides proprioceptive input! They begin to learn the amount of force needed to accomplish tasks. Pretty amazing, right?
Our visual sense not only allows us to see, it also helps us discriminate and prioritize our surroundings. Sorting leaves by color or shape and creating small piles or big piles give our children experiences in critical thinking!
Your playing doesn’t have to stop there! Include other learning opportunities:
Language Development-“What do the leaves look like?”
Fine Motor Skills- “Can you hand me one leaf?”
Creative Play- “What would you like to make with the leaves?”
Grow Relationships- Go for a walk and talk about the trees and what color their leaves are.
And don’t forget to grab a book and share some reading time cuddled up in a big pile of leaves!!
So…just a pile of leaves?
Incredible learning fun!
If you would like to combine reading aloud with physical activity in an outdoor learning environment, please check out one of our Story Walk at the Parks! We partner with the Onslow County Parks and Rec to display a new story every month in Deppe, Steed, Stump Sound, Hubert By-Pass, and Onslow Pines Parks. To learn more about Story Walk at the Parks and SEE a picture of one in action, go to https://www.oneplaceonslow.org/for-parents-and-early-educators/free-books-literacy-programs/#lf
For information about the First 2000 Days of your child’s life and the impacts of reading with children, https://buildthefoundation.org/issue/reading-with-children/.