Autumn is the best time to get outside because the heat of the sun has dissipated and the frost of winter has not yet arrived. God lays out these days perfectly to present nature as inspirations for learning. Taking a nature walk is a ideal way to bring yourself and your children closer to the presence of God in our world. When the autumn air is cool, the leaves crunch underfoot, and various wildlife scurry around you every sense of being is stimulated. It makes you want to capture it and experience it forever! That’s what my toddler and I tried to do this autumn so we could continue to appreciate the beauty of all things He created through Sensory Bags. Take a walk through the woods with a bucket in tow collecting treasures from the landscape. Talk about each item as it is placed in the bucket to encourage vocabulary skills. Encourage your child to find multiples of an object, but also encourage find a diverse assortment of items. Have your child go through and sort the items from the bucket by kind (all the leaves in a pile, all the rocks in a pile, etc). Pull out an item from the bucket, expand upon your child’s vocabulary by discussing the objects sensory characteristics, and then have your child place it in the proper grouping. Once the items are sorted, place each grouping into zip bags and label them with a permanent marker.
There are a multitude of ways you can use these bags of goodies even after this activity, therefore your autumn experiences can be relished over and over! * Create sensory bins from the items in the bags. * Do rubbings. * Count the objects in the bag and have your child label the bag with a post-it note. * Compare the number of objects in 2 bags to build your child’s understanding of number concepts and math vocabulary including more, less, and equal to. * Paint with the objects in a bag. After painting with different objects, build your child’s vocabulary by comparing the outcomes of the art work. * Create patterns using different items. * Older children can place the bags in alphabetical order. * Use the objects as manipulatives for math problems. * Compare weights using scales or lengths using rulers. * Choose one bag of objects to practice writing fact and opinion sentences. Keep in mind your ultimate goal is to build a love for learning. Our children will learn many things from us as they go through their homeschooled years. It’s important not to get caught up in focusing too heavily on mastering standards or creating pretty projects. It doesn’t matter how we teach them to discover the joy that results from learning as they explore this world we’ve been furnished.
Jen Schneider, also known as Teacher Jen, is a former public school teacher now homeschooling mom to two little blessings. She is the wife of the famous Chicken Whisperer and they travel around the country as a family in their RV. When at home, Jen enjoys working in the garden, crocheting, and spending time with friends. You can visit her website for great teacher resources and inspirations [http://www.thelearningwagon.com]. You can be a part of the “roadschooling” journey on her blog [http://rvclassroom.blogspot.com]. You can also follow her on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/thelearningwagon], Twitter [https://twitter.com/Learning_wagon], and TeachersPayTeachers [http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Teacher-Jen]!