The most obvious component of Autumn is the changing of the leaves. Some kids already had some vocabulary for why this happens and shared it with their classmates during circle time. I love hearing them learn from one another. We teachers filled in the rest explaining the process of photosynthesis and the purpose of chlorophyll. We then acted out being trees with leaves that drink the sun in the summer, but drop them off in the winter.
We talked about the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees while reading a book that depicts both types of trees. A few of the kids know about the Larch trees in this area which provided an opportunity to talk about their unique seasonal process. Again, awesome to hear them explaining these things to each other.
The main focus of this exploration was finding evidence of Autumn outside. After discussing things we might look for outside, we ventured out and were not disappointed by the vast array of colorful leaves on the trails. Students collected them, piled them, jumped and rolled in them.
While out searching for colorful leaves, we discovered an abundance of mushrooms popping up from the forest floor. This inspired a lengthy exploration of fascinating fungi. The students were excellent foragers and found a basket full of mushrooms our first morning out.
We prepared field journals for them and each child had the opportunity to document their findings. Students drew pictures, traced mushrooms, and wrote about what they found. They practiced writing descriptions of mushrooms in their field journals by asking for letters to trace or how to spell the words. We worked on these for a whole week by choosing various trails to forage on and then documenting our findings.
To support outdoor mushroom exploration, Teacher Candice brought in a variety of mushrooms to taste test in the classroom. Students were invited to taste five different types of mushroom over the course of a few days and record whether or not they liked the taste. We also smelled the mushrooms and compared their physical appearances.