Cut an apple across the width of the middle (from side to side not top to bottom). You should be able to see the seeds forming a star shape. Set out various colors to dip the apple into. Let older children, and help younger children, hold on to the apple, dip it into paint, and use as a stamp on construction paper. Encourage child to change colors if they want and demonstrate or help them wipe the apple on a wet cloth when they are ready for a new color. Talk about what happens when the colors mix, what shapes do they see as they are printing, how does the inside of the apple look different than the outside?
Stuff to Have
-1 or 2 Apples (could add pears too)
-Non-toxic finger paint or other children’s paint
Color recognition, fine motor, sensory, early science
Pour 1 or 2 bags of dry beans into a large container. Provide spoons, bowls, cups, tongs, or anything else your child would enjoy digging through beans.
*Variation: Provide a separate bowl to scoop beans into with the utensils. Or for older children provide a muffin tin or ice tray to sort beans by shape and color.
*Variation: Add a problem solving element by putting small toys or objects in the bean container for children to find.
Stuff to Have
-1 or 2 bags of dry beans
-Large open container
-Cups, bowls, spoons, strainers, etc. (Be creative and change it up each time you do this!)
Fine motor, sensory
Darken a room that is familiar to your child and has familiar objects in it. Sit down somewhere comfortable and let your child use the flashlight to find various objects. Older children will love having you name some of their favorite toys or special objects and using the flashlight to find them. While younger children might not grasp the concept of finding things with the flashlight you can demonstrate and begin that problem solving concept. If they are only interested in playing with the flashlight that is fine too- they are still always learning and building new concepts. Just take care to help them avoid looking directly at the light.
Stuff to Have
-Darkened, familiar room
Problem Solving, follow through
Early Science & Math
Pumpkin Patch Match
Prep your paper pumpkins in various shapes and sizes. Have between 3 and 5 of each colr and several different sizes. You can lay out the pumpkins and your child can match pumpkins based on size and/or color.
Stuff to Have
Paper pumpkins, various sizes and colors (I free hand my pumpkins and cut out)
Butcher paper (optional)
Early math, color recognition, fine motor
Cooking & Baking
Apple Pie Pockets
Preheat your oven to 400. Start by rolling out your pie crust and then your child can get involved (with your help) to cut out the tops and bottoms of the pockets. I assist my child with a butter knife- nothing sharp and we cut 3×3 squares. You could cut any shape you want though, circles, squares, rectangles, or using an apple cookie cutter to make an apple shaped pocket would be so cute! Using cookie cutters might actually be easier for your child as they can just set it and press down to cut, rather than cutting straight lines with a knife.
Now, combine the apple chunks, sugar, and cinnamon together. Spoon about a tablespoon of the apple chunk mixture onto one half of the dough square and run a finger wet with water around the edge of the square. Fold over from corner to corner (your final product will be a triangle shaped pocket if you chose to cut out the square shapes) and crimp the edges of the dough to make sure it stays closed.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
As you go through this baking process try to get your child involved in as much as you can. Have them scoop and dump the sugar and cinnamon into the apples, help them cut the dough, they can run their finger around the dough with water, fold it, and crimp the edges with a little help from you! You can ask questions about what they think is going on, describe what you are doing when they really can’t help (ie. cutting apples and using the hot oven), help them taste the cinnamon and sugar, turn the oven light on so they can watch the change, and continue the discussion when you finally get to eat your treat! Doing all of this, and making it their cooking activity will make it so fun and special for them, all the while they are learning so much!
Stuff to have
Pie crust (refrigerated, frozen, or homemade)
2 Apples, cut into small chunks (approx. 1/2″)
Add on Activities
Large Motor: One of the most important thing we can do for our kids is getting them to use their large muscles! Running, jumping, climbing, throwing & kicking a ball, tossing leaves that have fallen, going for a walk, riding a trike… Large muscle movement is beneficial for muscle and brain development!
Music and Rhymes: I like to find different Fall themed music and rhymes online. There are a lot of fun resources with great familiar rhymes and tunes to incorporate in your day. But keep in mind it isn’t necessary to have a sit down and sing time (this isn’t preschool or kindergarten!) Just incorporate singing, music, and dancing throughout your day!
Books: I find it is easiest to head to the library and pick out some fall themed books. Find your child’s favorite character as they experience fall, find books about fall in your area, but mostly just read! With toddlers especially it isn’t about necessarily reading all of the words, it’s more about letting them experience the book, point out what you see in pictures, connect it to their life, ask questions, and let them take the lead!
We are also now on Facebook! For more tips about play, these activities, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page!
Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!