Back to school means back to nature. If you’ve got a class of kids, or just a few in your home needing to get outside, check out these great nature inspired fall books for meaningful nature walks and wonderings this Fall.
Nature Inspired Fall Books
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak uses descriptive language as a child says goodbye and hello to the signs of seasonal change. Great for prompting children to use their senses to look, listen and smell the changes in the air as they move outdoors. Follow up with a journal activity using descriptive adjectives to describe their sensory walk.
Leaf Man by Lois Ehiert is an imaginative look at what a leaf can be. Follow up with a leaf hunt for leaves of varying colours, sizes and shapes. Discuss and sort by attributes and then create your own found art using the collected bits from your walk.
Look What I Did With A Leaf by Morteza Sohi is part field guide, part instruction manual on how to use nature’s found loose parts to create artistic scenes that will inspire your children to look closely in nature. Read as a companion book with Leaf Man, or as a prompt for a more in-depth follow up to leaf collecting, by adding other found objects to your nature inspired art projects.
Because Of An Acorn by Lola Schaefer is an excellent read for young children on the complex importance of biodiversity and interconnectedness on our planet. Follow up with a search for seeds in your school-yard, community and gardens. Compare them by attribute and sort by colour, shape and size. Match seeds to leaves and create your own field guide or nature table for observation and comparison.
The Looking Closely series by Frank Serafini invites children to explore and look closely in gardens, forests and shorelines. Follow up with a lesson on how to observe by bringing your magnifying glasses with you to practice looking closely.
In outdoor spaces with children I highly recommend these full page, waterproof large magnifying sheets for ease of use and durability. Bring your nature journals with you to sketch what you see!
Counting On Fall by Lizann Flatt is one of a series of nature math books designed to explore the provocation “where does math lives in nature?” Simply follow up with a nature walk to specifically find examples of math in nature. Take along your camera, or classroom technology, to have children record their observations of mathematical thinking and create a mini book to document the learning! If you haven’t read Janice’s blog on this, (our district Math consultant), head over for more instructions here.
Pumpkin Circle: The Story Of A Garden by George Levenson is a delightful look at the changes (and the life that is still living) in your school or backyard garden in the Fall. A perfect book for kicking off any inquiry into life cycles. Follow up with a tour of a garden space, or visit pumpkin patch. Save the seeds of a pumpkin and grow your own for next year!
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert is great for tackling the scientific understanding of photosynthesis. Follow up with a nature walk to observe the changing colours of leaves. Bring your nature journals and crayons to rub imprints of the leaves onto journal pages. I’ve also had kids cut the leaves in half, glue them onto a journal page and practice symmetry by colouring the other half of the leaf’s shape, texture and colour variation.
Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber is another book that supports a scientific understanding of why leaves change colours in the fall. Follow up with a sit spot near a tree that is dropping leaves for quiet observation. For a more playful follow up activity, have children rake leaves (or gather them with their hands) into piles and jump in them! Play is sometimes the best learning outcome! If you can gather enough leaves for an afternoon of play- go for it!
Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest Of Shapes by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a rhyming concept book that can inspire further exploration into the shapes and variety of harvest available this time of year. Follow up with visit to a farmer’s market, or your school or community garden to touch and fell the textures, shapes and edges of the harvest.
There are so many stories to tell and be told outside. Teachers new to taking their class outdoors often ask where to start. Simply reading a book outside is a simple and accessible starting point! Come follow me on Pinterest for more ideas on nature inspired learning outdoors: