Are you looking for a great fall activity to go along with the changing seasons? If you are, then you will LOVE this craft!  It is my absolute favorite activity for learning about the seasons. Oh and if you are wondering where I got this great Leaf photo, check out Arts n' Pix on TpT!

The activity I am going to share with you is absolutely one of my favorite activities to do when learning about fall, trees or apples. It is quick and easy, hands on and great for fine motor skills as well as learning about the seasons changing! I have done it with Kindergarten, First and Second Grade and Kindergarten-First Special I would venture to say that this wonderful...did I tell you that it is one of my favorite crafts to do and has been for probably over 20 years...yes you read that correctly...OVER 20 YEARS..back to what I was saying...this wonderful craft is great for ALL ages and Primary grades!

So here it is:  After reading a story about Apples; such as "The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree", discuss the changes an apple tree experiences all year long. Then have your students make the apple tress below and use one of the free writing frames in the freebie provided below and display the craft with the writing.    


Here is a free resource that you can use to for the writing piece:  

If you would like it, here is the link in my TpT Shop Sunshine and Lollipops Freebie for Fall!  ENJOY!!!

By the Way the great leaf photo came from one of my favorite TpT shops for Stock Photos. Check it out here: Arts n"Pix

What Can you do with a Pile of Leaves? 

There are so many things that YOU can do with a pile of leaves whether teaching from home or school. I have listed 11 of my all time favorites,but #6 and 9 are definitely on the top of the list! Let's bring Science to life!!

Hello there!  Ahhhh the school year is in full swing and now you can enjoy your surroundings...NOT... if you are a teacher, you really won't be able to fully enjoy anything until June, but that being said, I am retired so for me:  It's that time of year when you feel a cool breeze sweep against your face as you walk in the early morning hours amidst the beautiful orange, yellow and brown hues that are all around you. You can hear the leaves rustle against the sidewalk as you meander along. You feel energized by this beautiful morning...YES...It's FALL, one of my most favorite seasons!  

The beautiful leaves are all around and the colors are magnificent here on the east coast.  If you live somewhere that does experience the changing of seasons, then YOU are missing a beautiful scene.(Just sayin') 

We are so lucky here to be able to see the seasons change although I have to admit if we could just have fall and spring I would be fine. I cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat!

Well... there is one major downfall of fall... there are A LOT of leaves, leaves everywhere...on the lawn, in the streets, on the sidewalks, in my hair, in the house, on the porch and some are still in the trees! So if you are like walk by these beautiful, crunchy, vibrant leaves and say..."Oh, the possibilities...Oh My, there are so many educational activities that can be done with a pile of leaves!!! isn't that what all teachers do or is it just me...NO...I KNOW for a fact that...YES...that IS what you do!
So here goes...What Can You Do With a Pile of Leaves?

1.  Count the leaves.

2.  After discussing attributes or a math lesson that teaches attributes with blocks etc. Give partners or small groups a small pile of different kinds of leaves and encourage critical thinking by asking them to graph the leaves by whatever attribute they would like.  Then glue the leaves down in a graphing pattern. Some ways they might graph are color, shape, size and whatever they can think of!
     3.  Trace a larger  leaf on some inch or cm graph paper and determine the estimated area of the leaf. Then discuss the ways in which the students decided to count the graph paper squares to determine the area.

  4.  Read the story Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  Give each child a batch of leaves or have each child pick a bunch of leaves and then create a  leaf __________. In the past some of my first graders made Leaf Men, Leaf Fish, Leaf Insects, Leaf Cars...Leaf whatever they can imagine, Glue the creations onto construction paper and use the frames in this packet to write about the creation. The sheets are differentiated so you can decide which sheet works best for each child.

Leaves,leaves falling down...leaves,leaves all around... Gently swaying up and down!If you live in an area where the leaves change colors, then these activities are for many activities and projects to do with leaves. My favorite is #8.

5.  Give each child one leaf, but as many different leaves as you can find on your school property and have them try to find the tree that matches their leaf.  

6.  Read the book Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert and then go on a leaf hunt to find all the leaves that are mentioned in the booklet that is  included in this packet that I created to go along with the text. My kiddos LOVE doing this!

7.  Pick two leaves and use the Venn diagram to compare and contrast the attributes of each.

8.  Adopt and tree and watch it change. Go out each season and draw the tree as the ear progresses. Each time you draw I partner share and compare and contrast the changes. Use the paper provided to observe the changes and write about them.

9.  Plant and acorn and see what happens.

10.  Trim the stem of a yellow leaf and put it in green food coloring and predict what will happen.

11. Let a pile of leaves sit in your room and predict what will happen.

12.  Add you own ideas!!!

13.  Oh and let's not forget: Jumping in the leaves and of course playing Hide and Seek!

What Can You do with a Pile of Leaves was created years ago when I attended a summer/science workshop at an Environmental Center.  

I have always loved nature, the beauty of it and the vibrant colors that surface each fall are amazing. 

With that being said, here are a few of my favorite leaf activities...updated of course and ready to print and use. 

They are aligned with Common Core that goes without saying as really almost anything you do can be found in the Common Core standards. As you become an old girl like me, you will realize that really everything is aligned it is the assessments, testing, more testing and MORE testing that has really changed!

This is a Great mini-unit to get your kiddos outside and moving, which we all know is so important in today’s world.

Check out the entire activity:  What Can You Do with a Pile of Leaves? TpT
                                                 What Can You Do with a Pile of Leaves? TN

Bring Science to life...your kiddos will love it!!

Feeling included is so important in today's society. There are so many ways teachers can achieve this. I have chosen to focus on 3 ways to help students become active members of of your classroom community and feel included.  I KNOW you WILL LOVE #3...well actually all 3!

When Robin Williams played Lance Clayton in "World's Greatest Dad" in 2009, one of his lines read:

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone."

This quote made me think of some of the children we teach daily in our classrooms. Children who are there with everyone around them, but may not feel included or may feel all alone and self conscious around others.

So with that in mind, here are a few ideas to help encourage children to feel included and not disconnected from their peers.

1. Morning Meetings:  Having a Morning Meeting or Circle Time everyday encourages children to feel included in the classroom community and that they are important and valued.

A Morning Meeting or Circle Time can consist of a greeting where children greet each other with a smile, wink, handshake, elbow shake, silly voice etc.; a sharing time where children share a special moment or news; an activity or quick game that encourages working together; such as, Charades, One different, Pass the Football and any game that promotes building community, which really is most whole class games.

Last, include a class message to which can be used as a mini lesson to introduce language arts and math skills and strategies.

2.  Mailbox:  I have a mailbox in my classroom and I encourage children to write notes to me or draw pictures.

As they finish their work they put it in my mailbox and close the door so I know there is mail in it. (You can also use a basket, decorated shoebox or any container you might have.)

After opening the letters and or pictures, I post the pictures on my "Photo Wall" and put the letters in a basket on my desk.

Of course I make sure to tell how much I love the picture or letter! 

Children love to write letters and draw pictures.  Let's face it, the letter writing is a great way to encourage children to write.

One day when I opened my mailbox I found a letter in the mailbox. It read:

"Dear Mis Simson, Iam having trubl macking frends.  Can you halp me? luv,_______" 

The letter broke my heart!  I chatted with her privately and together we came up with a plan for her to have a recess buddy to make her feel included and we also had some role playing during Morning Meeting on how to make friends.

Soon after I received another letter that read:  "Thank you for halping me. I hav lots of frends and fell happe!"

This tiny gesture of having a place where children can express their feelings through writing made a difference.  It gave children a safe place to express their feelings in a private way!

I used an outdoor metal mailbox and decorated it!

3. Strengths:
Sometimes children, who walk through your doors, may display some behavioral or social issues.  However, you CAN make a difference!

Find something that is positive about each child that enters your classroom and focus on it.

If you teach first or second grade, these children have only been on this earth 6-8 years! That is not very long. They are just learning how to cope with and make sense of the world around them.  

One year I had a child who had difficulty with socialization. She would exclude herself from all group activities. However, this same child was an extraordinary artist. Her pictures were amazing. I encouraged her to draw pictures for me and then I would hang them on my wall.  The other children began to notice them and compliment her on her drawings.  She became known as the class artist and everyone wanted her to draw pictures for them. A boost of confidence? Absolutely! Did she feel included? Of course!

One more short story. I also had a child who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...sound familiar? '

He got into fights on the playground, was loud, pushed, and eventually became a child that I received many notes and phone calls about from parents.

One day I had a thought...which happens now and then....I was reading with him in Guided Reading and I asked him if he might want to be our guest reader on Friday.

Usually this spot was reserved for parents, but no one was scheduled on this Friday. I asked him to pick his favorite book and he could read it to the class.  When Friday came, he was so excited! I Prayed that he would not have a bad day and wind up suspended, which he had been in the past...not a usual occurrence for first grade!

The afternoon came and he was still in my far so good.   He made it through specials, lunch and recess without a problem. It was time for guest reader and everyone was so surprised and a bit excited when I told them who it was!

There they were staring at our friend wide-eyed and ready to listen! They sat as quiet as mice listening to him read and read he did...expression, inflection, and even asked questions as he read. ( Oh my! I guess he really did pay attention when I read aloud!) After he read, his classmates raised their hands and asked questions about the story, but they also asked questions like, "How did you learn to read so good? "Can we partner read a story together sometime?"

Yes, he was now viewed as a great reader and children began to ask him to read things they could not or to help with spelling a word and to work together. 

I wish I could say that this solved all his problems, but it did do made him feel included and I did see a difference in his behavior...actually a HUGE difference. We still had behavioral chats and he and I became "best buds"...he knew I cared and he really did try his best and really what else could a teacher ask for?

I bump into him once in a while and he gives me a huge smile and hug...actually he is almost as tall as I am now!!

So as your students walk through your classroom door,  I am asking you to find something positive about each child, dwell on the strengths they have, make them feel good about who they are and make them active members of your classroom community!  It will make a difference!

It is here...what you have all been waiting for...YES that is right...without further is the classroom reveal of Room 102...Whoo Hoo
If you ask me, that is a silly question because this is what YOU have been waiting least I hope it is what you are waiting for...I know, I know, it took a bit longer than you expected, but really you will not be sorry you waited. You will Love what we have done with Room 102.

Now, do you remember what it looked a few weeks back?  Let me refresh your memory:

Now, you remember, right?  A move to a "new" room, a "new" school and over 100 boxes later, this is what Katie walked you can only imagine the stress and the washing machine feeling in her stomach,(and mine) not to mention, that overwhelmed feeling...are you following me here?  Remembering the Motto: " baby steps!" Also "inch by inch is a cinch, mile by mile won't make you smile," my daughter and I dug into this classroom and turned it into THIS:
Are you READY?  Close your eyes and count to peeking now...scroll down and VOILA! Well actually there are tons of pictures so voila does not really work because it wasn't magic, it WAS hard work, blood, sweat and tears...wait...I am was a challenge...So without further ado 
(just looked this up to make sure it was the correct spelling and use PHEW!).  Here is ROOM 102!

Room 102's REST STOP...the fan has been turned in for an air conditioner!! WHOOO HOOO!
Relax...take a break on this tropical Beach complete with sensory fidgets and Sunshine Bear to hug..(He is not in the photo).

Happy Birthday to me....complete with birthday certificates and will be finished by the kiddos when they add their own cupcakes under the month of their birthday that they will create!!

Behavior Management Board to encourage good choices!! 

I am here! What do I do NOW?  Some visual directions to support classroom routines!!
Let's Take Off and Learn New Words:  Surfboard letters with beginning sound pictures to support learning!
Is your voice too loud?  Check the Sufin' voice meter written with Surfin' Language...if you are cranking your voice is right where it should be, but sometimes activities require a 'Flat" voice or quiet!
Some classroom rules that will be created and discuss ed with the class and then they will sign their name on a sheet that looks like these, but is  BLANK!
Can't have Kindergarten classroom without a place to read.  Here is the classroom reading spot complete with Boomer, the class dog to read with and some other fun characters: Horton, Curious George and a fave giraffe!  You may notice some blank bulletin boards...well these will be decorated with the class with Hopes and Dreams, great work and favorite is important to have some boards that the class can decorate so they feel a part of your classroom community and will then take ownership of their "space!"
Morning routines such as calendar, day of school and Morning Meeting will take place right up front...check out the rug!

 Responsive Language cards so we all remember the best words to use when supporting students in the classroom.
Let's not forget to be organized with our supplies...visible, organized and ready!!!

We can't forget our Beanie Baby Strategies...right beside the Guided Reading Table...convenient and ready to be pulled down and used when needed to reinforce or teach a reading strategy!

Taking care of ourselves is so important. So, right beside and behind Katie's desk are some inspirational/motivational quotes to make everyone who enters the room leave with a smile. At the end of the day, they can be read to realize that it really was a great day and leave the classroom with a smile!

We can't forget to make each student welcome as they enter Room 102 so there are some wonderful reminders that start with: "When you Surf into this classroom you are"...
And last,but not least here is the artwork on the right side of the door: "Let's surf into Kindergarten!" Sometime during the first week of school, Katie will place pictures of her students decked out like surfers and place them in the windows and of course...the teachers will be driving the VAN!
 And a few extra pictures to add to the plethora we have that we decided NOT to add to this POST!

So there you have it...Katie is ready to "surf into the year" and crank the waves with her kiddos in Room 102.  We would LOVE to hear your comments or maybe share an idea you are using for your classroom that relates to setting up and decor...we hope you have a sufin' good year!

OOPS! before I forget if you are interested in any of the ideas that we have used to decorate check them out here:
Classroom Routines: We are Here. What NOW?

Classroom Supply Labels

Inspirational Quote BUNDLE

Kindergarten Word Wall Surf theme

Classroom management Sit Smart Posters

All about Feelings Used for Rest Stop Lessons

Name Plates

Classroom Decor: Surf into Learning!

Happy Birthday to ME!

I Can Make Good Choices

Sunshine and Lollipops Resources