Fall Equinox – Learning about Fall in the Elementary Classroom

Ashley Gamlin

When the pumpkin spice latte makes its appearance at your favorite coffee shop, it can only mean one thing: fall is upon us. Although this year the release of the favorite fall coffee flavors was the earliest ever in late-August, it always seems to put us on the fast track to wrap up summer and bring out the cozy sweaters and tall boots.4 Fall equinox will officially arrive on September 22, 2021, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.3 For me, here in Minnesota, the start of the season brings nostalgia for annual fall events like apple picking at a local orchard, visiting a pumpkin patch, or hiking at a state park during the peak season for beautiful fall foliage.1

As an elementary teacher, I loved to incorporate lessons around fall activities. My favorite activity involved collecting leaves with students on a nature walk and having the students sort and classify the leaves, do leaf rubbings, and learn all about the parts of a leaf.2 This was such a fun hands-on unit and it also required little prep which is a huge bonus! There are many ways to incorporate learning about the fall season into your classroom. You can dig into the science of fall by studying why leaves change color and fall from the trees. Take a poll about your students’ favorite fall activities and create a graph to show the data. Get in touch with nature and help develop social-emotional skills by using all of the senses to observe fall and practice gratitude that the fall season brings. There are also many fall holidays from different cultures to celebrate and learn about, creating connections and building community for students. There are many great books to support learning about the fall season and all it has to offer. Below are some categories of books to incorporate in your fall learning.

Fall Holidays, Festivals, and Traditions

Fall Holidays by Finley Fraser

Diwali by Adeline J. Zimmerman

If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving by Chris Noodlz

Trick or Treat, Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

Binny’s Diwali by Thrity Umrigar

Shadow in the Moon : A Tale of the Mid-Autumn Festival by Christina Matula

Remembering Day = El Dia De Los Muertos by Pat Mora

Day of the Dead by Lori Dittmer

Oktoberfest by Jill Foran

Story Behind Halloween by Melissa Rae Shofner

Citlali and the Day of the Dead: Citlali Y El Día de Muerto by Berta De Llano

Archie Celebrates Diwali by Mitali Banerjee Ruths

Moon Festival Wishes by Jillian Lin

Crayola Diwali Colors by Mari Schuh

Spooky Soup: A Creepy Counting Backwards Book by Taylor Farley

Story Behind Day of the Dead by Melissa Rae Shofner

How to Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace

Happy Diwali! by Sanyukta Mathur

Fright School by Janet Lawler

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

Fall Activities

Fall Sports by Finley Fraser

Fall Leaves by Katie Peters

People in Fall by Sophie Geister-Jones

Apple Picking Day! by Candice Ransom

Let’s Go to the Apple Orchard by Lisa J. Amstutz

Back to School by Sophie Geister-Jones

Hiking Day by Rockwell, Anne

Let’s Go to the Pumpkin Patch by Lisa J. Amstutz

Harvest by Finley Fraser

Get Outside in Fall by Bonnie Hinman

 Science of Fall

Hello Autumn! by Shelley Rotner

Why Do Leaves Change Colors? by Marie Roesser

Plants by Jenna Lee Gleisner

Acadia Files : Autumn Science

Fall Trees by Sophie Geister-Jones

Fall Animals by Sophie Geister-Jones

Summer Green to Autumn Gold : Uncovering Leaves’ Hidden Colors by Mia Posada

Leaves Fall by Lisa K. Schnell

Fall Weather by Sophie Geister-Jones

Birds by Ruth Daly

Fall Season Celebration

Fall Ball for All by Jamie A Swenson

Kiss for Akaraka by Richard Jackson

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

Let’s Bee Thankful by Ross Burach

Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant

Pete the Cat Falling for Autumn by James Dean

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

Friendsgiving by Nancy Siscoe

Dance Like a Leaf by AJ Irving

Leif and the Fall by Allison Sweet Grant

References

 1“2020 Fall Prediction Map.” smokymountains.com, 2021. https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/.

2Elaun, Spramani. “Leaf Crafts Archives.” Teach art in the Montessori classroom, October 11, 2018. https://montessori-art.com/tag/leaf-crafts/.

3Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Autumnal Equinox 2021: The First Day of Fall.” Old Farmer’s Almanac, August 6, 2021. https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-fall-autumnal-equinox.

4Tyko, Kelly. “Pumpkin Spice 2021: Starbucks PSL, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew Are Back with New Apple Crisp MACCHIATO.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, August 26, 2021. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/food/2021/08/23/starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-fall-drinks-psl-2021-return/8214019002/.

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