7 Easy Autumn Activities for Early Years

There’s no doubt that the days are getting shorter, colder and wetter but despite this, autumn is a fantastic time to get out and enjoy the changing season.  Autumn treasures are a great way to engage early years children in their learning and explore nature: crunching leaves, conker shells and acorns found on the ground during the autumn months are always a winner in our classrooms!

In need of some fresh inspiration?  Why not go and download my free seasonal changes MTP or check out my Autumn Planning Bank.

In the meantime, here are 7 easy autumn activities to use in your early years this autumn.

Conkers

Conkers are the ultimate prize at this time for year – so much so, you end up finding them hidden all over the classroom, in children’s coat pockets and stuck in the playdough!  They also are great for easy autumn activities in the early years, so, let’s put those conkers to work and use them to enhance our early learning activities.

Painting with conkers.  

In a shallow tray, place a plain piece of paper, drip a few blobs of paint onto the paper, place a couple of conkers in the tray and challenge children to roll the conkers around then tray to create their art work.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials; explore different materials freely, to develop their ideas about how to use them and what to make.

(Reception): Explore the natural world around them; explore, use and refine a variety of artistic effects to express their ideas and feelings.

Easy autumn activities in the early years- Conkers
Picture Credit:  Take a look at Imagination Tree’s example of conker rolling for more inspiration.

Counting with conkers.

Using a tens frame, challenge children to count the conkers out, practising one-to-one correspondence and cardinal principal.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Say one number for each item in order: 1,2,3,4,5; know that the last number reached when counting a small set of objects tells you how many there are in total

(Reception): Explore the composition of numbers to 10.

Comparing size.

Explore different conkers in a sensory tray by printing onto playdough.  Ask the children to find large and small conkers to create their prints.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity.

(Reception): Compare length, weight and capacity.

Printing autumn leaves

Autumn leaves come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes and hold loads of learning potential!

Collect some fallen leaves.  Leaves that are not too crunchy work best for this activity.  Paint one side of the leaf – children can use any colours they like!  Turn the leaf over and press onto the paper for a few seconds, taking care not to move the leaf around too much so you are able to see its wonderful natural patterns then carefully remove the leaf from the paper to see your printed leaf

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials; explore collections of materials with similar and/or different properties.

(Reception): Explore the natural world around them.
Understand the effect of changing seasons on the natural world around them.

 Leaf Printing
Picture Credit:  Play of the Wild show how leaf printing art for children can be done.

Stickman

Stickman by Julia Donaldson is a fantastic story to focus on during the Autumn term.  Stickman’s adventures take him through the different seasons and the images by Alex Scheffler illustrate beautifully the changes in weather.  Go and take a look at my free Seasonal Change Planning and Stickman EYFS Planning for loads more easy autumn activities for Early Years linked to this story.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Enjoy listening to longer stories and can remember much of what happens.

(Reception): Listen to and talk about stories to build familiarity and understanding.

Falling apples

At this time of year, apples are everywhere we look and for good reason!  Did you know that in the UK alone there are over 2,500 varieties of apples?  Pretty astonishing!

Here are 3 ways to use apples for easy autumn learning activities in early years,

  • One to one correspondence.

Provide the children with a print out of a tree, and a little red or green paint, roll a dice, using a finger, finger print the corresponding number of apples onto the tree.  As an extra challenge, the children can write the corresponding numeral under the tree

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Link numerals and amounts: for example, showing the right number of objects to match the numeral, up to 5.

(Reception): Link the number symbol (numeral) with its cardinal number value.

Develop fine and gross motor skills by challenging children to retrieve apples from a container of water using kitchen tongs.  Count them out onto a large tens frame as they are retrieved.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use one-handed tools and equipment, for example, making snips in paper with scissors.

(Reception): Develop their small motor skills so that they can use a range of tools competently, safely and confidently. Suggested tools: pencils for drawing and writing, paintbrushes, scissors, knives, forks and spoons.

Apple bobbing
Picture Credit:  Fantastic Fun and learning created an apple bobbing activity using kitchen tongs.
  • Weight and measure. 

Compare the weights of the apples using a balance scale.  Which apple weighs the most?  What happens when you put more apples in one side of the balance?

Suggested DM Links,

(3, 4 year olds): Make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity.

(Reception): Compare length, weight and capacity.

Autumn scoop and pour sensory bin

Giving children time to explore the autumn treasures in a sensory tray is a fantastic way to develop critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, develop understanding of the world and imaginative play.

Try adding loose parts such as scoops, bowls, tongs, boxes and trays as well as a variety of natural autumn treasures for children to explore.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials; take part in simple pretend play, using an object to represent something else even though they are not similar.

(Reception): Explore the natural world around them; create collaboratively, sharing ideas, resources and skills.

Sensory tray- autumn
Picture Credit:  A great example of a classroom tuff tray to explore autumn treasures from Learning and exploring through Play.

Witches brew and pumpkin potions

Would autumn activities in early years be complete with exploring pumpkins and Halloween?

Here are 3 ways to get a little bit spooky in your classroom this autumn.

  • Room on the broom.

Another Julia Donaldson classic, Room on the Broom tells the story of a witch and her newfound friends.  Small world play to retell the story, making witches potions in the mud kitchen and creating your own swamp monsters are all great early years activities to explore this story and its themes.  For more ideas, take a look at my Room on the Broom planning download here.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Enjoy listening to longer stories and can remember much of what happens.

(Reception): Listen to and talk about stories to build familiarity and understanding.

  • Pumpkin Flesh

Pumpkin flesh, seeds and skin are a great sensory experience for early years children.  In a sensory tray, allow children to explore the smell, texture and look of the pumpkin inside and out.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials; explore collections of materials with similar and/or different properties; talk about what they see, using a wide vocabulary.

(Reception): Explore the natural world around them.

Hollow out some smaller pumpkins and pour in a little bicarb.  Use pipettes to drop in coloured white vinegar to see the pumpkin potions come to life.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Talk about what they see, using a wide vocabulary.

(Reception): Use talk to help work out problems and organise thinking and activities, and to explain how things work and why they might happen.

Autumn activities- Pumpkins
Picture Credit:  Thimble and Twig create pumpkin potions using bicarb and vinegar.

Autumn bingo

Autumn bingo is a great way to get children in the outdoor area and exploring sights and sounds they can find in their environment.

Create a simple bingo board using images of things they may see or hear in their environment and go on a nature trail.  Challenge children to look and listen carefully to what is around them and mark off the things they can find.

Suggested DM Links,

(3 & 4 year olds): Use all their senses in hands-on exploration of natural materials; talk about what they see, using a wide vocabulary.

(Reception): Describe what they see, hear and feel whilst outside; understand the effect of changing seasons on the natural world around them.

Autumn is one of my favourite times to get out and explore the amazing natural treasures all around us.

I would love to hear more about your autumn adventures in your early years classrooms.  You can find me on Instagram and Facebook as well as my website.  I would love to hear from you and how you have used my 7 easy autumn activities for Early Years!

Don’t forget to check out my planning packs to help make planning simple this term

Emma xx