Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nurturing Acorns: Fall Fruits

What an invitation to explore! Mums, apples, sunflowers, gourds, pumpkins, hickory nuts, acorns, and more!

Nurturing Acorns, the preschool program at Woodlawn Nature Center, started up again this week. It meets various Tuesdays at 10am throughout the fall. There are still spaces available. Contact the Center if you are interested for your child.

We started by making our snack! This is one of my favorite Pinterest finds from a couple of years ago. I don't know how many times I have made it--others have made it lots too! I modified the original recipe to this mixture:
1 box spice cake mix (looking for a good homemade version of this!--if you have a recipe, please share!)
1 smaller sized can pumpkin (note: we just used half the can in the picture)
a couple handfuls of craisins
I also like walnuts! 

Scoop, measure, spoon, stir, and more! Little hands are getting great fine motor practice. We baked these for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees. The original recipe was for a cake, then I made muffins, then another person mentioned they just make little cookies like this. The batter is very thick. I really dislike washing muffin tins, so this version is PERFECT! It's a great easy recipe to do with young children, too.

Next, we did apple prints, looking at the different patterns in the seeds. I've always loved finding the star the middle! We did apple investigations. It was so funny to watch the children try to "hear" the apple. We used our five senses to learn more about the apples.

We didn't stop at using the apples for prints. We had a few other invitations on the table, like corn silks, cinnamon sticks, maple samaras (helicopters), and hickory nuts. The children (and adults!) explored different ways of using these in their art. It's nice to have a little nature art area!

We read several books about fall fruits and other items, such as pumpkins, apples, and sunflowers. We discussed different concepts such as life cycles, fruits, flowers, and more. It was neat to see the children naturally come up with their own actions as I read about seeds growing bigger and bigger. They need action and movement in their day, play, and learning. I brought a blue jay and squirrel outside for us to look at up close as they both eat acorns. We talked about their unique characteristics (like a strong beak) that help acorns be a perfect food for them. This little guy wanted to feed his acorn to the blue jay!

Later we went on a hike. I was trying to find a connection to the pond, yet they found acorns in the water! Excellent!

On the trails we found mushrooms and fallen logs. 

We were looking for seeds and nuts, such as hickory, acorns, and helicopters to add to our seed match game the children brought home with them. I brought a few others in, such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds, too. We came back, washed our hands and had snack. We had our pumpkin cookies, homemade applesauce and some seeds! I don't think they were overly impressed or they have much smaller appetites than me. 

Later we had some free play time in the developing Outdoor Classroom. We had a building area. They worked together to build with loose parts from the ReStore Habitat for Humanity Store.


A music and movement area. Scarves became bunny ears all across the bike rack. Sounds were explored!

They also spent some time inside with the various exhibits. We didn't bring the portable easel out, but I will need to next time. My little Picasso (who is using EVERY scrap of paper he can find right now to draw and right, including my husband's receipts) wanted to do some drawing of a sun. 

How are you celebrating Fall Fruits?