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Whirling, Twirling Leaves: Language Activities for Preschool

written by: Tracey Bleakley • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 6/6/2012

Red, yellow, orange and brown. Young children are always fascinated by the colorful leaves of autumn. Take advantage of this interest by planning some preschool language activities for leaves.

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    Falling for Language

    51K270502EL BO2,204,203,200 PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76 AA300 SH20 OU01 Sharing poems, singing songs and reading picture books are just a few ways to effectively increase the language skills of young children. As they begin to hear and use new vocabulary and discuss new ideas, they lay the foundation for becoming better readers, listeners and speakers. Language activities centered on a common theme, like leaves, help children improve their language skills as they build knowledge about the topic.

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    Songs and Poems

    The Leaves of the Trees

    (Tune: The Wheels on the Bus)

    The leaves of the trees turn orange and red,

    Orange and red, orange and red

    The leaves of the trees turn orange and red

    All through the town.

    The leaves of the trees come tumbling down,

    Tumbling down, tumbling down

    The leaves of the trees come tumbling down

    All through the town.

    The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish

    Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish,

    The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish

    All through the town.

    -Author: Irmgard Guertges

    Falling Leaves

    Little leaves fall softly down,

    Red and yellow, orange and brown,

    Whirling, twirling round and round,

    Falling softly to the ground.

    Little leaves fall softly down

    To make a carpet on the ground.

    Then swish, the wind comes whistling by

    And sends them dancing in the sky.

    -Author Unknown

    Let the children pretend to be leaves while you read the poem aloud. Encourage them to move softly like leaves and to listen to the words and do what they say. You can even choose one or two children to be the wind and move past the other children to cause them to dance and twirl around.

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    Leaf Language Chart

    Make a simple leaf chart with your students. After reading a book about leaves (some are listed below) or going on a walk around the school grounds to look at leaves, ask each child to think of his favorite kind of leaves. Then on a large piece of chart paper write "What kind of leaves do you like?" Record each child's answer using the simple sentence frame "I like _________ leaves." Then write his name next to his response. If any students use color words to fill in the chart, use a chart marker of the matching color. Hang the chart in your classroom and read it over aloud each day during your leaf unit using a pointer to point to each word.

    If you have children who are beginning to read, you can write each child's response on a sentence strip. Them cut the words apart and show the child how to count the words, put the sentence back together and read it. Store the sentence strip pieces in an envelope. This is a great way to reinforce one-to-one correspondence with beginning readers.

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    Leafy Listening

    Make a mat for each child, by gluing 3 or 4 leaf shapes of different colors onto a piece of construction paper. You could also die-cut the shapes and let the children make their own mats. When each child has a mat, tell them that you are going to sing a song and they need to listen and follow the directions in the song. Then sing a song to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

    "If you have a red leaf on your mat, clap your hands.

    If you have a red leaf on your mat, clap your hands.

    If you have a red leaf on your mat, clap your hands so we know it.

    If you have a red leaf on your mat, clap your hands."

    You can make up more verses as you go. Here are few more ideas:

    "If you have a yellow leaf on your mat, wave your hands in the air."

    "If you have a brown leaf on your mat, cover it up."

    "If you have an orange leaf on your mat, hold your mat up in the air."

    (This will not only reinforce listening skills, but color identification as well.)

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    Describing Leaves

    Make a large tree out of brown bulletin board paper and hang it on a bulletin board. Make fall-colored paper leaf shapes to add to the tree. As you read books and poems about leaves and trees, have the students help you listen for words that describe leaves. Write each word on a leaf and add it to your tree. Try to add a few words each day to help expose your students to new vocabulary.

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    Picture Books to Share

    The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

    One last yellow leaf clings to tree a branch. She’s just not ready to fall. As the other leaves swirl around her, fall to the ground and get raked into piles, she still isn't ready. Will she ever be ready? This is a sweet little story that preschoolers are sure to enjoy.

    It's Fall! by Linda Glaser

    This is a great book that celebrates the coming of fall. Children rake leaves into piles and jump in them, animals prepare for winter and the weather turns cooler. This is a must-read for an autumn theme. It even includes ideas for fall nature activities.

    Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall

    Two children wait all year for their favorite season to come. When it finally arrives, they spend their days trying to catch leaves, stomping in them and collecting them. The simple text and bright illustrations make it a favorite with young children.

    Preschool children will surely fall for these fun language activities for leaves. Include some math and science activities about leaves and you'll have the perfect autumn unit to teach your preschoolers.

References

  • Hall, Zoe. Fall Leaves Fall! Scholastic, 2000.
  • Clarke, Jacqueline. Hands-On Math Around the Year. Scholastic, 2000.
  • Author's own teaching experience
  • Berger, Carin. The Little Yellow Leaf. Greenwillow Books, 2008.
  • Glaser, Linda. It's Fall! The Millbrook Press, 2001.