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Autumn Learning Ideas

By Becca Evenson

Autumn offers many opportunities for hands-on learning, whether your student is preschool age or headed for college. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Help harvest fruits and vegetables.
Being involved in picking or digging fruits and vegetables helps a child to understand how different plants produce. While digging potatoes a conversation about roots and root vegetables will help them understand the make-up of plants and help them group certain types of vegetables together. Learn how different plants reproduce. Find the eye of the potatoe, the seeds in the apple and let a bean pod ripen and mature into seeds for planting next year. If you do not have a garden of your own, look for an older neighbor or other gardener who may be happy to have help.

Learn to preserve fruits and vegetables.
Make applesauce. Dry apples. Teach your children how to preserve these foods. Learn the pilgrims and native americans preserved their food. If you don’t know how to can or dry foods, find a book or person to teach you. This may be a learning opportunity for the parent as well

Nature walk (be sure to bring a nature notebook).
Take a nature walk and find seed pods of all varieties. Dissect and learn about the different patterns in seeds. Have students draw and specify types of seeds in a Nature Notebook.


This is also a great time to learn about different categories of leaves and have them draw or press different types. Students can learn about the characteristics that make up certain categories of leaves and name the parts of the leaves they draw or find.


In the Salt Lake area, a great place to take a nature walk is at the Jordan River Parkway. There are many varieties of seed pods and leaves to find. However, even in your own neighborhood you will be surprised what you never paid attention to before.

Collect seeds to plant in the spring
Finding the seeds on a plant and collecting them for spring can be a real adventure. Students (including the grown-up ones) learn to find where the seeds are on a plant. Look for the part of the plant where the blossom grew and you will often find seeds. If collecting seeds from vegtables, fruits or flowers, you will want to be aware of whether the plant is a hybrid. You will only want to collect seeds from non-hybrid plants if you want to be assured that you will grow what you intend to grow. Herbs haven’t been widely hybridized as many vegetable plants have. Because of this, herb seeds can be collected without worrying about whether they are hybrid. As they collect seeds, students will also learn to identify plants.

Chart the weather.
This is a great time of year to learn about the weather because it is changing quickly. Make a chart and have children keep track of daily highs and lows in temperature. Younger children can chart whether it is sunny, rainy, cloudy, etc. After collecting the information, use it to make a bar chart that shows how the weather changed over the time they tracked it.

Learn about saving energy.
Help students identify areas around the house that need to be winterized. Talk about saving energy. Find the places where there are drafts and figure out how to resolve that.

Other ideas.
Visit a corn maze, or make your own. Pick pumpkins and make pie. Have an American history breakfast. Observe and learn about the birds flying south. Learn to make a primitive lean-to. Talk to a beekeeper. Make corn husk dolls. Learn about composting and set up a compost pile. Make stew and bake bread to go with it. Make jerkey. Learn to make candles. Make apple prints or those dolls with they dried apple faces. Make castings of animals prints. Make rope. Do leather craft.

Reading Suggestions

Eating the Plates: a Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners by Lucille Recht Penner

Stranded at Plimouth Plantation 1626 by Gary Bowen

Virginia Dare: Mystery Girl (The Childhood of Famous Americans) by Augusta Stevenson

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Anything by James Herriot

American Folklore

The History of Plymouth Colony by William Bradford
And remember to have fun!