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Fall STEM Activities for Preschool Programs

Sep 15, 2022    |   FallSTEM Learning
preschool child carving pumpkin during fall STEM activities for early learning programs

As we enter the Fall season, pumpkins, pinecones, and colorful leaves abound, each of which creates great opportunities for learning with young children. Autumn materials can be used in a variety of activities that can help children learn foundational concepts in science and mathematics. In this article, we share Fall-friendly STEM activities for children from toddlerhood to pre-k. 

Exploring Fizzy Pumpkin Patches

toddler using a sensory bin during fall STEM activities for early learning programs

image and activity from
Lemon Lime Adventures

This fun, child-friendly science experiment is a great sensory activity for toddlers and young preschoolers. For the experiment, you will need: baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, green food coloring, a shallow bin or container,  squeeze bottles, and a few small pumpkins. Simply place the pumpkins and small drops of dish soap in the container, and add small drops of food coloring to the dish soap. Cover the tray with the baking soda until you can’t see the drops anymore. Finally, fill the squeeze bottles halfway with vinegar, and set all of the items out for children to explore. 

Invite children to take turns using the bottles to squirt vinegar into the container and observe the fizzy reaction! They will love watching the green foam fizz around the pumpkins. This activity is a great introduction to science and chemistry, while also encouraging children to strengthen fine motor skills in their hands as they squeeze the bottles. 

Sprouting Indian Corn

image and activity from
Gift of Curiosity

During the Fall season, you’ve likely come across Indian Corn, also known as Flint corn. Did you know that the colorful kernels on these ears of corn are actually seeds? They can be used to sprout new plants! Simply lay the ear of corn in a container with just enough water to cover the bottom 1/3 of the corn. Check back each day, adding more water if needed,  until you see your corn start to sprout. Sprouts will begin to emerge after a few days and will continue to grow over the next few weeks. 

This activity introduces children in preschool and pre-k to biological science. Throughout the project, ask children questions about how seeds become plants, what they think the sprouts will look like, and what other predictions they have about the experiment. 

Making Halloween Monsters

image and activity from
A Dab of Glue Will Do

This simple activity can be done with children of all ages, from toddlers to pre-k, which makes it a great option for home-based child-care or other mixed-age classrooms. All you will need is play dough, googly eyes (larger eyes are safest for the youngest children), and pipe cleaners. Depending on what you have available, you might also offer beads, pom-poms, or other items that can be used to make unique monster characters. Offer the items to children and encourage them to use their creativity to make Halloween monsters! 

As they work on the project, you can help the children practice basic math skills by asking them questions about the number of eyes or arms they are putting on their hand-made monsters. Conversations inviting children to compare the size of the monsters or the number of googly eyes each monster has will build upon mathematical concepts like measurement and comparison. 

Graphing Fall Leaves

tree leaf chart graph from Fall STEM activities for early learning programs

image and activity from
Really Are you Serious

This simple activity creates a fun opportunity for children to collaborate with their peers while learning basic mathematical skills. All you will need for this project is: poster board/bulletin paper, glue stick or tape, markers, and leaves. Go for a nature walk to collect leaves of different colors, or cut some out of construction paper. 

Create a large simple graph using the poster board, listing different leaf colors, such as yellow, orange, red, brown, and green. Ask children what their favorite colors of fall leaves are. With older children, you can invite them to vote for their favorite color, and then help them count and compare the results.

Stacking Mini Pumpkins

image and activity from
The Educator’s Spin on It

This simple activity requires only two materials: playdough and mini pumpkins (both real and plastic pumpkins will work, depending on what you have on hand). Encourage children to stack the pumpkins, keeping them connected by placing playdough in between each pumpkin. See how high they can make their towers! This activity pairs well with the popular children’s book, Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins

For older children, you might try asking the children to build a tower using a specific number of pumpkins.  This activity introduces basic mathematics like counting and one-to-one correspondence. Engineering and physics also come into play, as the children explore ways to ensure that their towers maintain the stability needed to support their growth.

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