The Storm That Broke The Back Of Summer


Every autumn, my husband talks about “the storm that breaks the back of summer.”  I think that we just had it!  The temperature dropped from the sunny 80s that we have been enjoying to the 40s today!  I must admit though, that I do like the cozy, sweater weather that autumn ushers in.  I love to watch the colors change on the mountains–high at first, and then slowly bleeding down the mountainside to the valley.  Snow has dusted the top of Mount Timpanogas and my concord grapes are just about ripe enough to be made into juice.  The apples are rosy and ready to be picked–not too many this year, as we had a hard frost in the spring and many of the flower buds froze–but enough to make some applesauce.  It is autumn.

Throughout this year in preschool we will be talking about artists, the alphabet and the seasons of the year.  The overarching theme of September, October and November will be autumn and the many things that are associated with that season.  The alphabet letter that we are starting with is “A”.  We have talked about the fact that A is a special letter because it can make different sounds.  This week we talked about the “ah” sound, as in autumn.

Invitation to Play

The inspiration for my “invitation to play” came from a post on the website Buggy and Buddy, Under the Fall Tree Small World  Since I do not have a table against a wall I modified the whole setup a bit.


The materials that I used were:

*Wrapping paper that I had on hand which was a natural brown on the back side.  You can see the stripes peeking through!  Chelsey, at Buggy and Buddy, used brown craft paper.
*Brown paper lunch bags
*Silk autumn leaves
*Removable poster putty
*Loose parts:  I used blue glass gems, wooden craft sticks in various sizes, small wooden spools, fall colored buttons, wood slices, and pinecones.
*Plastic animal figures.

I followed Chelsey’s directions and first covered a table with the wrapping paper. Then I scrunched up lengths of wrapping paper and taped it to the edges of the table to add a border.  I rolled down the edges of three lunch bags to hold the buttons, blue glass gems and the smallest craft sticks and miniature spools.  I put the poster putty near the largest craft sticks and showed the children how to attach the leaves to those to simulate trees.  Because I use the same invitation to play for the four days of preschool, and it is set up on the table where we eat our snacks, I have to take it down and set it up each day.  This one was a little bit trickier to move, but not much.  I first moved the bags of loose parts to my storage shelves and then simply untaped the wrapping paper from the edges of our snack table and picked the whole thing up and moved it to my storage shelf.

This invitation to play met with degrees of success.  The littlest littles were not really interested in it.  But the littles enjoyed it.  They liked arranging the gems into small ponds and putting silk leaves onto the craft sticks to create trees.  They enjoyed setting up scenes and acting out little stories within those scenes.

Autumn Circle Time

For circle time we learned some autumn poems which I will continue to say with them throughout these next three months.

Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves
Rosy the apples, crimson the leaves
Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white
Autumn good morning,
Summer good night.

I explained to the children that bracken was just another name for ferns and that sheaves were bundles of harvested grain.  I showed them pictures of yellow bracken and golden sheaves and I had a fern to pass around the circle and a small bunch of grain.  We also talked about how the words “rosy” and “crimson” both mean “red”.  I love using rhyme, song and movement to teach children.  I feel like having an order or a rhythm to their days helps to center them, relieve stress and open their imagination. Through rhythm and rhyme, song and movement we can not only learn loveliness, but also can bring balance and order into our lives.

Autumn leaves are floating down, (float hands and arms up and down)
They make a carpet on the ground. (move arms back and forth towards the ground)
Then swish! The wind comes whistling by (quickly “swish” hands back and forth in front of body)
And sends them dancing to the sky! (“dance” hands upward)
All the leaves are falling down, (flutter hands downward)
Orange, green, red, and brown. (continue moving hands downward)
If you listen, you will hear them say, (cup hands around ears)
“Wintertime is on its way.” (whisper)

I always say this poem first with the children and then we bring out the play silks and swish and whoosh and dance with them as the poem dictates.  Finally we sing and dance with our silks this song:

Autumn is here and the world goes around.
Autumn is here and the world goes around.
Autumn is here and the world goes around.
The world goes round and round and round.

Autumn is here and the leaves fall down.
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down.
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down.
The leaves fall down upon the ground

Then I read the children a couple of books that I really loved.  For the Monday/Tuesday circle times I read, Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak .  51jgoja3bxl-_sy387_bo1204203200_

I love the illustrations in this book.  They had a ratherish  1960’s retro feel about them.  The story centers around a young girl’s walk through the countryside and the town. She notes the change in the seasons and has whimsical conversations with each flower and creature that she passes.  On Wednesday/Thursday I read, Autumn Is Here by Heidi Pross Gray which has lovely watercolor illustrations and a gentle, rhythmic text.  The children grew to anticipate the repetitive “Autumn is here!” that ended each fall description.


Autumn Art Projects

1.  Autumn Fairies or Gnomes

We made these little peg dolls using 2 3/4-inch unfinished boy wood doll bodies.  I gave the children liquid watercolors to paint the bodies–orange, red, yellow and gold. Then I helped the children glue on a bit of wool roving for hair, an acorn cap for a hat and silk autumn leaves for wings.  Some of the children chose to also add glitter to the bodies.


2.  Fairy houses or Gnome homes!

Generally the boys did not like calling their peg dolls fairies but preferred gnomes!  And the same went for the houses.  I used empty pint heavy cream cartons or quart buttermilk cartons that I cut the bottoms off to make them the same height as the cream cartons.  I had been saving cartons but didn’t have quite enough.  I needed to buy six more.  That is a lot of cream or buttermilk!  Did you know that you can freeze cream or buttermilk?  I froze mine in 1 cup servings in quart sized ziplock bags.  Make sure that you duct tape the bags closed or they may leak.  Then lay them flat on a cookie sheet in your freezer to freeze them.  Once frozen, they stack compactly in you freezer!

Anyway, I spray painted the cartons white.  I cut little doors in the cartons.  I also cut a rectangular shaped pieces of white cardstock.  I folded them in half and then unfolded them and put the crease over the top crest of the cartons.  Then I stapled over both the cardstock and the carton.  This stapled the carton shut and created a chalet looking roof for our houses.

I gave the children apple green and purple tempera paint to paint their houses. And then I had a variety of natural materials for them to glue onto their houses–moss, raffia, small seashells, acorn caps, sticks and feathers.  I found that some of the children used a lot of the materials and some were really just content with the paint.  It is always so interesting to watch the differences in how each child interprets and executes their art.


Autumn Fairy or Gnome Gardens:

I got the idea for this project from one of my favorite books of inspiration, Mary Ann Kohl’s book, Preschool Art.  On page 66 she explains how to make a nature garden. Give each child a heavy paper plate and a ball of playdough.  The recipe that I use to make playdough comes from the Small and Friendly website  Pumpkin Pie Spice Play dough  This is the best playdough recipe that I have found and it is so much nicer that store bought playdough.  Spread the playdough out to the edges of the paper plate.

Go on a nature walk and gather all sorts of materials to put in the autumn gardens.  Little tin buckets are a must for our nature walks.  They make such a satisfying “plinking” sort of sound when you drops things into them!  The children gathered acorns, stones, pine cones, bits of moss, twigs, seed pods and flowers.

Stick the found objects into the playdough to create an enchanting garden for autumn gnomes or fairies.  The gardens will be all the better if you discover that a little worm or two has crawled out of an acorn to take up residence!


4.  Pumpkin Collages

Print a pumpkin outline on brown cardstock.  I mixed orange paint with glue and let the children paint their pumpkins.  Then I gave them a variety of materials to decorate it with.  I used bits of orange patterned fabric, torn bits of orange paper, bits of yellow and orange tissue paper, bits of orange raffia, cut up orange designed paper straws, orange buttons, orange wool roving and orange seed beads.


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