It's my ABSOLUTE favorite time of year: Autumn, Fall, Color Extravaganza, or whatever other beautiful and colorful term you may choose. We live in northern California, so we don't get to experience the leaves changing as quickly as when I used to live in North Carolina, but there are definite signs of Autumn beginning to emerge. One of them is the sudden appearance of acorns, pine cones, and the like and what do children naturally begin to do? Collect!
Following the lead of the kiddos I pulled out a bunch of baskets and said, "Go for it!" The wandered all over the playground seeking, finding, and collecting nature's treasures.
We have a very tall chain-link fence around the perimeter of the playground and I knew lots of goodies would be found on the outside of the barrier since when I pulled into our parking lot each day I had begun to hear "pop, pop, pop!" as acorns crunched under my car tires.
I took six or so kiddos with me and we began exploring beyond the boundaries. We reviewed all the safety rules and they were ready to go.
After a few groups had traversed and collected to their hearts' content, we made our way back onto the playground to spread out our bounty.
We discussed the treasures that had been found. How they were alike and different and they began naturally sorting the items: acorns with caps, acorns without caps, acorn caps without the acorns, pine cones, and more.
We even discussed some found items that weren't from nature and we determined those were man-made materials that we either saved or threw away.
We explored some bark that was found and tried to determine which of a few trees on our playground, where we believe it originated.
Today I pulled out our mortar and pestle we purchased last Spring from Costco and the kiddos began grinding up their finds. They quickly determined that it was more difficult than they originally thought. We had a discussion about how Native Americans in the area we live used to grind up the acorns for a variety of food items and how much work it must have been to prepare a meal back then.
Some friends mixed a variety of items creating nature stew. We saved all the ground materials and plan to use them in art projects.
We may pursue nature frames like we did a few years ago. The possibilities are endless and always new and exciting!