“Falling” Into Learning, Part 1 — Math and Science

By Sharon Taylor on October 13, 2011
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

Leaves are falling, pumpkins are ripening, and apples are just waiting to be picked from the trees. Finally, fall is here. Fall is the perfect time to bring the great outdoors into the classroom. Children can work on a variety of skills while exploring nature. I invite you to “fall” back and read about some of the hands-on activities I use to savor the season of fall.



Falling Into Math



  • Provide a basket filled with a variety of nuts for children to sort, count, arrange in patterns, and match. Those without nut allergies can also celebrate by sampling some of the nuts.
  • Go on a nature walk with your class. Have your students collect a variety of leaves. Talk about the sizes, colors, and shapes of the leaves. After this discussion, have them sort the leaves into boxes.



  • My students love graphing leaves. I make a simple bar graph for orange, yellow, red, and brown leaves. Students take turns pulling a leaf from their bag and coloring in a square on the graph. Leaf Graph
  • Graph favorite drinks made from apples (e.g., apple cider or apple juice). Favorite Drinks Graph



For this activity you will need three pumpkins of different sizes. Predict which pumpkin (the largest? the smallest?) will have more seeds. Hollow out those two pumpkins and count each one's seeds. Then predict how many seeds the middle-sized pumpkin will have. Students will have a blast finding out how close their predictions are.




  • Practice estimation by having students guess how many acorns they can hold in one hand.
  • Before cutting open an apple, have the students estimate how many seeds they think will be inside. Make a chart of their estimates so that you can discuss who got the closest, who guessed the most, the least, etc.


  • Make copies of a set of different-sized paper pumpkins, and then have students practice putting the pumpkins in order from biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest. You can also write numerals or ordinal numbers on the pumpkins to practice additional skills.


  • Use apples to teach fractions. Cut the apples in halves, thirds, and fourths. 


  • You can find so many different sizes of scarecrows at craft stores. Buy a small, medium, and large one. Have your students use various things (paperclips, rulers, pencils, crayons, etc.) to measure the scarecrows. Create a sheet where they can record their measurements.


Falling Into Science


Five Fall Senses

  • Prepare a small book of the five senses for each student with pages that say, “My favorite fall smell is ______”; "My favorite fall taste is __________"; etc. Help the students fill in the blanks and illustrate their sentences. As a class, you might brainstorm a bank of possible words and write them on a piece of chart paper or on the whiteboard.


Apple Taste Testing and Graphing

  • Provide the students with different kinds of apples (McIntosh, Granny Smith, Rome, etc.) to taste. Discuss how they are similar and different. Make a few dips to go with them, and enjoy the different colors, textures, and tastes. Graph each student's favorite apple. Favorite Apples Graph


Sink or Float


Plant a Seed

  • Allow your students to plant pumpkin seeds in a baggie with dirt and water. They sprout quickly, and the children will be amazed at how the bags "create their own rain" and keep the soil moist.


Nature Walk

  • Teach students about autumn changes by immersing them in the sights, sounds, textures, and smells of a fall nature walk. Bring along a small bag to allow students to gather acorns, leaves, and other fall treasures. When you get back in the classroom, help them make a book or table display using their fall objects along with pictures of animals and nature scenes.

Join me next week for “'Falling' Into Learning, Part 2: Reading and Art."



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