How to explain autumn to children: activities to do and books to read

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Catherine Le Nevez
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How to explain autumn to children

L'autunno is the time ofbeginning of school, of the first colds, of the great changes of nature before the arrival of winter. We asked the pedagogist Laura Mazzarelli how to best enjoy this period with children and how to respond to their curiosity.

In this article

  • Let the children experience autumn
  • Experience autumn with the 5 senses
  • Use analogies
  • Activities and books on autumn for children aged 3 to 6
  • Activities and books on autumn for children aged 6 to 12
  • Tips for dealing with autumn sickness

Let the children experience autumn

«First of all - specifies the expert - it is not so much a question of explaining it in words, but of bring autumn to life: children know and understand the world through their senses, so let's make them live experiences that involve all 5 senses ". Bringing experiences to life means enhancing and making them notice the small-big changes that they experience day by day, both in the environment and in their daily routine: "To accompany them in their discovery, do not be afraid of the first cold: cover them well and bring them to the Park. And don't forget to talk about the animals: the dormice lethargy, the flocks of birds that migrate ... ».

Read also: How to explain Halloween to children

Experience autumn with the 5 senses

Autumn can truly be known with all 5 senses: «Delle leavesFor example, don't just watch them turn yellow and fall off: you can also hear them rustle, hear them crack and crumble under your feet. Then let the children experience the wind on their skin, the rain and the jumps in the puddles, let them smell the scent of the damp earth and feel the taste of chestnuts. Let them tell you how they feel wearing the first sweaters and closed shoes after months of bare feet and sandals, comment together on the shortening of the days. Which are those things that, from our childhood onwards, we instinctively reconnect immediately to the autumnal atmospheres ».

Less daily but equally significant are exceptional experiences such as going for a harvest and pressing grapes, emptying a pumpkin, going for a chestnut cake.

Read also: School anxiety: 10 tips to help children and teenagers overcome it

Use analogies

Children in the fall wonder what's happening to them too, in their days: the routines change again, the rhythms return to be more pressing, the alarm goes off to go to school. Making comparisons between the natural world and the human being helps them: the rule is "As it happens outside, so also within us".

"Children use analogies a lot as a tool to understand the world, but also to meet themselves and see themselves in situations". So, for example, instead of telling them "You have to go to kindergarten because I have to go back to work", let them identify with I sow that moves away from mum plant to start his new adventure and turn into a big tree. It is an image that motivates them and gives meaning to what they do ».

Activities and books on autumn for children aged 3 to 6

In kindergarten, the thing about autumn that intrigues the most is the change that occurs in nature: "I usually organize a moment with the children in which we welcome autumn and tell about the Time Wizard who rules the seasons ".

Here are some tips for this age group:

  •  Le analogy to explain the autumn more suitable for children 3-6 years are related to the harvest (the grape harvest or the chestnut harvest): "Harvesting is the time of the budget, so you can make with them a diary of gratitude in which every morning thank you for something. Or we train in silence by imitating the sowing that is being prepared for winter: we make ourselves small, we cover ourselves as if under the ground and we relax ».

  • Live autumn with art. “In this age, I especially recommend experiences centered on art: drawings, music, poetry. Help the children observe the same phenomenon with gradually different eyes: we see together what a poet says about autumn, how a painter paints it, how a photographer portrays it, what music suggests to a composer. Subjected to various cultural stimuli, children then find their own channel of expression ». There are many ideas, from Vivaldi's compositions to Arcimboldo's paintings but not only: "I recently showed them how Van Gogh, Klee, Mondrian interpreted autumn: the fact that everyone has their own style and therefore, for example , represent a tree in a totally different way helps children to get out of the stereotype with which they draw it. Starting from these assumptions, we went to see how even in nature trees are very different from each other ».

  • Books to explain autumn to children.
    Among the books on autumn for this age group we recommend:
    "Concerto for trees" by Laëtitia Devernay (2022, Terre di Mezzo Ed.);
    "The tamer of leaves", written by Pina Irace and illustrated by María Moya (2022, ZOOLibri Ed.);
    "The museum of fallen leaves" by Catalano (2022, Ed. Artebambini);
    "Little seed" by Eric Carle (2022, Mondadori).
Read also: Back to school anxiety? Tips and advice

Activities and books on autumn for children aged 6 to 12

If in early childhood one works through doing throughoutdoor education and manipulation, in the Primary School children already know the cadence of the seasons.

"At this age, I recommend giving more space toscientific approach and their innate tendency to formulate hypotheses about why certain things happen in autumn: experiment, collect the leaves to catalog them, decompose them to plant new seeds that will blossom in a few months ».

 «A more complex concept also from an educational point of view is the one suggested from the analogy with the seed: «The seed goes underground to defend itself from the cold and stays in the dark but in reality this situation represents a new beginning for him. His work throughout the winter is not seen, but the fruits will come in the spring: just as the children are starting a new school path, full of all the energy accumulated in the summer. With the older ones, looking at the leaves that detach from the tree, one can also reflect on the importance of separating and letting go of something ». 

How to explain autumn to children with books

In addition to the classic stories and nursery rhymes by Roberto Piumini and Gianni Rodari, the books "Chissadove" written by Cristiana Valentini and illustrated by Philip Giordano (6, ZOOlibri Ed.) And "Cipì" by Mario are very useful for the age group 12-2022. Praise.

Tips for dealing with autumn sickness

Between back to school and changes in weather, autumn can be a difficult time for the little ones to face, who can manifest a little tiredness, lack of appetite and maybe some mood swings, commonly known as autumn sickness.

“It is a simple one general malaise, which we adults can also experience for reasons that are always halfway between the emotional and the physiological: there is therefore no need to be alarmed ». 

  • Sana diet. "A healthy diet with seasonal fruit and vegetables, persimmons, chestnuts, pumpkins, oranges, already gives us everything we need: in this period, nature offers us potassium, iron, B vitamins and vitamin C".

  • Get more sleep. The days are getting shorter, we are less outdoors and in the sun, the climate becomes colder: it is inevitable to feel more sluggish and struggle to resume the frenetic pace, because after all nature makes us more tempted to go into "hibernation": "So take care of your and your children's sleep especially in autumn, to minimize the feeling of exhaustion."

  • Support them emotionally. Last but first as important, support and understanding towards your child: "As in any change, also in this case the emotional closeness on your part is decisive: both the one who listens and welcomes his efforts without minimizing or blaming him, and the which makes him notice the beauties of autumn, which charges him with curiosity and amazement. Create autumn pampering rituals with your child, maybe one evening reading with a hot herbal tea, or a massage with essential oils that can relax him ».

The interviewee

Laura Mazzarelli she is pedagogist and author of the site "The pedagogical path".

  • autunno
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