Your preschooler or kindergartener will adore these fall-themed activities that help develop math and literacy skills through hands-on learning.
Preschoolers and Kindergarteners learn so much through hands-on learning. With my little ones, I like to create hands-on learning for them with fun themes when I can. It makes their activities fun and reminds me to change them up to keep them fresh as well. Fall is my favorite season, so I always have fun creating fall preschool activities.
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Fall Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
When my kids are preschool age, our homeschool preschool contains no formal lessons but lots of hands-on activities and child-led learning. As we transition to kindergarten, I continue with hands-on learning. I leave a small bookcase in our homeschool room open just for preschool and kindergarten activities. I show my little ones how to do the activities I put on the shelves, and they know they are allowed to do any of the activities on the shelves whenever they’d like.
Since I like to change these activities out at least once a month, using seasonal or themed activities is perfect. You’ll find so many wonderful themes to use in fall: apples, pumpkins, spiders, and more. I like to add activities that teach literacy skills, math skills, and work on developing fine motor skills. See below for activity ideas to work on these important preschool skills. For even more ideas, including fall books and nature study ideas, check out these fall-themed ideas.
Fall Literacy Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
Preschoolers can develop skills at such different ages. I’ve seen this in my own children. One child knew all letters and sounds and was teaching himself to read at 3 years old. Another recognized only a few letters and no sounds at 5 years old. Both are currently right at grade level right now.
Because of this, I try to create a variety of activities that work on several different preschool skills at different levels. They include such skills as matching uppercase to lowercase letters, beginning sounds, rhyming, letter formation, and syllables. Some of these activities may be a review of skills for more advanced children, while these same activities may be an introduction of a skill for others.
One of the first literacy skills my kids learn is recognizing the alphabet. Kids love their names, so I like to introduce letters in their names first. I find alphabet puzzles a great way to work on letter recognition. Magnetic letters also work well. Children can use these with my fall preschool activities to develop alphabet skills. You can hide the letters in a sensory bin, have your little one choose an alphabet card and hunt for the matching letter in the bin. They can match uppercase to uppercase, lowercase to lowercase, or even uppercase to lowercase. Additionally, they can use the alphabet match and cover sheets to mark the letters they find.
Along with letter recognition, it’s important to learn the sounds letters make. One way to do this is by having your preschooler or kindergartener match letters to the objects that begin with those sounds. My little ones do this in several ways. One way is to match puzzle letters or letter cards to foam objects that begin with those letters. These work well in sensory bins or, if you use magnetic letters with the foam magnet objects, on the fridge or a magnetic dry erase board.
Another way to develop beginning sounds comes in an activity found in my fall preschool activities. Children can simply match the letter cards to the object that starts with that letter. I chose all short vowels to make it easier for younger kids.
Letter formation is another important preschool and kindergarten skill to work on. However, research has shown that children’s hands don’t fully develop until close to six or seven years old. Instead of writing lines and lines of letters on worksheets, my kids create letters with playdough. It’s great at strengthening hand muscles for better writing when kids are older, as well as being lots of fun to use. Kids can make letters on their own or use playdough mats.
Another good literacy skill to develop is learning how to find out how many syllables words have. This skill helps children decode words, which helps them learn to read and spell more easily. An incredibly easy way to work on this is to go around your house and find out how many syllables objects you see have. Kids can also work on this skill independently with object cards found in my fall preschool activities. They can say the word, then place it on the apple tree with the correct number of syllables. You can make it self-checking by putting a sticker with a 1, 2, or 3 on the back of each card.
Fall Math Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
Along with literacy skills, math skills are also important for preschoolers and kindergarteners to develop. These skills can include understanding that numbers can be represented in different ways, also known as number sense, counting, patterns, and writing numbers.
Introducing children to numbers is as easy as finding them in everyday life. Seeing that numbers can be represented in a variety of ways helps children learn number sense. Children can also sort different ways to show numbers, such as ten frames, number words, and tally marks, in this fun fall-themed activity.
Counting is another important preschool and kindergarten skill. It helps kids practice one to one correspondence and understanding that numbers mean a certain amount. Counting can easily happen by going around the house and counting things like toys, books, or pieces of a snack.
When carving pumpkins, pull out some pumpkin seeds for your little ones to count. Find leaves outside to count. You could even have them sort them into different types or colors of leaves before counting to work on that skill too. Fall-themed trinkets can be placed in a sensory bin for children to pull out with tongs to count.
Creating and finishing patterns may not seem like a math skill, but it is. Being able to create patterns helps children with counting, as well as reasoning, skills. They can finish patterns that have been started, then move on to create their own patterns. I love grabbing small filler items or mini erasers at local craft stores for this activity. They could also make patterns with leaves found outside. Pattern cards also make it easy to practice this skill.
Just like with learning to write letters, children need to learn how to write numbers. Again, since they may not be ready yet for writing, playdough is very helpful here too. Children can roll playdough into little snakes to create numbers. Then add counting onto this activity by having them use mini erasers or mini filler pieces to show that number. These fall-themed number mats give them a surface to work on.
Using Sensory Bins to Develop Preschool Skills
Many of the math and literacy activities mentioned above can be included in sensory bins. I love using sensory bins because I can make the activities ahead of time and add the bins to my youngest child’s shelves of activities. Sometimes I’ll also just put the activities in wooden trays instead.
Sensory bins can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make them. I like to start with a base like dyed chickpeas or shredded paper in colors that match the activity’s theme. Then I may add cards that go with one of these fall preschool activities since all of the activities can be done independently. Other times I’ll add in a variety of themed items in an open-ended bin.
For example, you can easily find fall filler items in craft stores in late summer/early fall. A fun open-ended sensory bin might include a base of orange, yellow, or brown shredded paper. Then add table fillers like mini pumpkin or apple gems, fabric leaves, or little plastic acorns. Finish the bin with a small wooden bowl or two and a scoop or tweezers. Children can pick the items up and place them in the bowls, make patterns with the pieces, sort them, or count them. Lots of learning is happening in what looks like play.
Games Build Important Skills
Games are other fun ways to work on math and literacy skills for preschool and kindergarten. This squirrel game helps children work on color recognition, which is a math skill, as well as fine motor skills. It’s perfect for the fall as kids may see squirrels outside gathering nuts for winter.
Would you like to build your little ones’ fine motor skills? This post has some wonderful fall fine motor activities that your child can do independently to develop fine motor skills.
Young children mostly learn through hands-on experiences. Instead of sitting your preschoolers and kindergarteners down with a worksheet, add hands-on activities to their learning. These activities help your little ones develop important math and literacy skills through play.