We know that fine motor skills are important for preschoolers. Consider ways you can naturally develop these skills when you take a walk. The added bonus is the science you can encourage as you walk and talk!
Ask your child to pick up examples of fallen autumn leaves. Discuss the change in colors. Encourage your child to hold the leave between his or her thumb and pointer finger and twirl it. This exercises important finger muscles and encourages coordination.
Observing and noting differences in the trees, fall air, and ground cover, like crunchy leaves helps your child improve oral expression. Ask questions to elicit descriptive words like crackly, chilly, and crisp.
When you get back to school or home, create a fall tree picture. Prepare cut strips of red, orange, yellow, and brown paper.
Have your child use his or her thumb and pointer finger to tear small pieces to represent leaves. If your child has difficulty making this rip, get him or her in what we call the zone of proximal development* by starting the rip yourself. Encourage the child to continue and make the rest of the tear.
Prepare a construction paper by drawing the trunk of a tree on it, as shown below.
I love to have children squeeze glue from a bottle into a container as this also strengthens important hand and finger muscles.
Give your child a paintbrush to dip in the glue. Use the paintbrush to smear glue on a large area of construction paper, above the tree trunk. Talk about this to reinforce the concept of above.
Have your child pick up each torn piece of paper, again using the thumb and pointer finger. Ask them to place it on the area smeared with glue.
Discuss the different colors as they are placed on the “tree.” This connects the art with the out-of-doors experience. Connections make for meaningful learning!
*The zone that is the difference between what a child needs help to do and what he or she can do without any help at all. We often need to make a small step in the middle of this zone to assist children, as they become independent learners.