Ten Great Autumn Themes for Preschoolers

It’s my favorite time of the yearleaves are turning, apples and pears are filling baskets in the orchards, pumpkins are ripe, and squash is ready for soup! I’m breaking out my sweaters and looking forward to hiking through crunchy-leaf-covered paths.


I love revisiting some of my favorite themes with the kids this time of the year. My oldest is in his teens (how did THAT happen?), but he still loves visiting the apple orchard with us when we go. Are you ready to celebrate autumn with your little ones? Here are 10 fun fall themes for you and your kiddos to enjoy together!




Learning About Apples

Fall around here in Ohio means apple-picking. We’ll head to the orchard soon, and will be making all sorts of yummy apple treats. We love apples in our breakfasts. Apple cinnamon oatmeal and apple pie cinnamon rolls are favorites. We also love apple pie milkshakes. Have you tried those? Yum!

Ready to plan your apple theme for your little one? Here are some great ideas for you:

You can engage your little scientists, and help them discover why apples turn brown with this apple oxidation experiment and free printable.

Are you visiting an orchard this fall? Here are four great ways to enjoy the apple orchard with your kiddos.

I love these eight simple ideas from Teaching Mama, and you will too.

This apple hedgehog snack is adorable —  and tasty, too.

I know that my art-loving girls will adore this apple scrunch art from Teach Preschool.

This apple scented felt pie is perfect for pretend play. I just love it.

My preschoolers love LEGO bricks as much as their big siblings do, and I know that they’ll have such fun making these sweet apples out of our vast collection of bricks.



Learning About Leaves

Why do the leaves change color {or why don’t they, depending on your part of the country}? What causes them to fall? We’ll explore the colors of leaves, collect some, do a few of the crafts below, and throw a bit of science fun in there for good measure.

Check these cool autumn leaf activities out:

My kids will absolutely love these giant watercolor leaves — we’ll be trying them soon!

Look how cute (and easy!) these autumn leaves suncatchers are…  so fun!

Do you have a laminator? I never dreamed you could do so many fun things with laminated leaves. Give some of these a try.

My sensory kiddo will enjoy this soothing fall leaves sensory bottle — and it’s so pretty!

It’s such a simple idea, really, but my kiddos have always loved playing with baby wipes containers, and this fall leaves fine motor play is perfect for them.




Learning About Pumpkins

I adore fall baking! While I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie (it’s the texture, not the taste), I love the spices and rich color of all other pumpkin desserts. We’ll be comparing types of pumpkins, taking them apart, roasting seeds, counting seeds, and doing lots of fun crafts. We’ll also head to the pumpkin patch to choose some specimens of our own to get us ready for our Halloween theme.

Here are some great things to try during a pumpkin theme:

Life-sized pumpkin memory is such a super fun idea! What a great way to get the neighbor kids involved in our play, too.

Sensory bags are a great way for your young ones to experience messy things like the pumpkin guts in this version of the sensory bag.

These sweet beaded pumpkins are great for even the littlest hands to make.

My two younger kiddos will think this pumpkin pounding station is the coolest thing ever.

Sensory bins are a great way to keep little ones busy while the big ones need your attention. This Five Little Pumpkins bin is so fun!

Maybe you can get your big kids involved by having them make this edible pumpkin pie play dough for the younger kiddos.


Learning About Bats

I’m a bit strange… I think bats are really cool. Not that I want them flying too close or anything, and I’ll admit that I was a bit creeped out by the scurrying & scratching bat-colony sounds in the walls of the rental house I stayed in for a week at the Highlights Foundation Children’s Writer’s Workshop at Chautauqua a few summers ago. But, they’re really unique animals. Mammals that fly, sleep upside down, and can rid the area of gagillions of insects in a single night. (Only a slight exaggeration…) The littles and I will look up some bat videos on Netflix, read Stellaluna, and make bat puppets. We’ll also do some fun crafts.

Enjoy these fun and creepy bat activities:

We invented this super-fun Hide and Sonar Seek game the last time we studied bats, and had a blast — maybe your kids would like to give it a try.

Love these adorable toilet roll bats! The kiddos will love this adorably easy craft.

I am totally having my kiddos fold up these cute origami bats and place them all over the house like this!

Oh my goodness! What a cool black bat sensory bin!

I love the idea of pulling together unit studies with lapbooks. This free Stellaluna lapbook from Homeschool Share is perfect.

Here’s a great bat slime recipe for your bat-crazed kids.

Oh! And how about these yummy chocolate bats for mama? Ummm… I mean for the kids.


Learn About Halloween

The kids will be so excited about the fall festivals, costumes, candy, and fun associated with this holiday, that we talk about its origins, its history, and check out some fun books. We also play dress-up, sort candy, and make lots of fun crafts – and carve some jack ‘o lanterns, too! We might have to make our ghost cake again!

If you’re interested in this just-for-fun theme, try these ideas:

Games are always a hit, so get together with some friends and play one or more of these 30 Halloween games for kids.

I remember playing this mystery box game when I was a kid, and think that it would be great sensory fun for my kiddos. What do you think?

What a cute way to practice counting for the little ones — Roll a Frankenstein is going to be a favorite for sure.

Open-ended invitations to create are always a hit here. This set up to create a monster looks like creative fun.

Fun! This Feed a Monster game is going to be a hit with the whole family — big and small. I think I can take them all on…

Lately my oldest daughter has been into making yarn pom poms. I think she’d going to love making this Halloween garland.

Do your kids like ghosts — the non scary kind? They’ll have fun with these non-creepy ghost crafts.

I can’t wait to make these spooky blow art tree paintings with the kids. They look so cool.



Learn About Farms and Harvest Time

We’ve been a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the past few years, and the kids have really enjoyed learning where their food comes from, seeing the hogs, cows, and chickens that have ended up on our dinner plate grow in healthy ways, and taking the drive into the country each week in the summer. The season will be coming to an end soon, and we’ll celebrate by finding out what happens to the farm as they close out the season and prepare for winter. We’ll also talk about and try some unusual squash, and other “storage” crops.

Check out these harvest activities:

Got a little scientist or two on your hands? Try this duck feather experiment with them.

Each year, we visit a local farm, and milking the cow is always a hit. I know the little ones will enjoy this simulation at home.

Have you and your kids ever made butter in a jar? It’s a really simple science activity, and described perfectly here.

I just love the inventiveness of the working grain silo in this DIY farm sensory bin.

Such a great idea to retell a farm story through the use of props!

Oh! My! Goodness! I just KNOW my little ones will love this pretend play chicken coop idea! Will yours?

This carrot patch harvest activity is one of the most clever things I’ve seen in a long time.



Learn About Corn

I love playing with corn this time of year. Last year, we filled our water table with cracked corn, shovels, and construction toys. Everyone who came over (big and little) loved it. We’ll be doing that again – and keeping the hand vac handy! We’ll glue some corn, compare types of corn, eat corn {the vegetable and the candy}, and have a little corny fun.

Want some ideas for corny play too? Here you go:

I can’t believe I’ve never tried to paint with corn before — this activity looks like a blast for the kids.

Have you tried this dancing corn activity before? I’ve done it with raisins and it’s a lot of fun.

These corn husk dolls are beautiful and so simple to make.

I just love simple science for little ones, and this corn vs. popcorn exploration is perfect!

These ideas for Indian corn door decorations are cute, too.

Did you know about the “Five Kernels of Corn” legend? Here’s some info and a fun craft.

Bring some math into your corny theme with this printable and counting game.



Learn About Turkeys

Our last trip to the farm this year will be to pick up our final share from the CSA and our Thanksgiving turkey. Last year was the first time we had a turkey for Thanksgiving that was freshly butchered and farm-raised. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ll ever have another kind. It was amazing. The girls and I will read some turkey stories, watch some videos, and do some crafts in preparation for the final pick-up.

Here are some fun turkey ideas for your kids:

Simple and cute — these popsicle stick turkeys are made from crafting supplies we always have around.

Oh my goodness! My kids will love making these turkey tracks; wouldn’t yours?

Turkey feather tag — I think we’ve found a new favorite game…

Add some math into your turkey studies with this pattern block turkey craft.

This feather beading task is the perfect fine motor activity for your littlest turkeys.

I’m a huge fan of getting kiddos outside to explore the nature that surrounds them, and these fall leaves turkeys are perfect.



Learn About Thanksgiving

Last year, in an effort to help the kids understand the history behind Thanksgiving, we worked on a purchased lapbook from Currclick. It’s still too tough for the girls, but we’ll read through Trevor’s and do some of the preschool packs and printables I laminated last year for them. We’ll also begin a gratitude journal, pray for all we are thankful for, and have some crafting fun. Finally, we’ll celebrate by eating that turkey we picked up at the farm!

These Thanksgiving resources might be fun for your little ones:

Your little beginning readers might like this free printable mini pilgrim book.

This pilgrim craft is an adorable one for your crafty kiddos to try.

I remember dipping candles on a field trip when I was young, and can’t wait to try it with my own kids!

These native American talking sticks are a fun tradition to start with your kids.

Make these printable Thanksgiving placemats to encourage your kids to share what they’re thankful for.

I love this free printable I-Spy game — your kids will too!

This super-cute fine motor practice game is great — Turkey Baster Relay.



Learning About Squirrels & Winter Preparation

Our neighborhood is teeming with squirrels. (Partially because our neighbor across the street leaves nuts and treats out for them. And, when they’re not overturning our bird feeders or stealing the strawberries off our plants, they’re fun to watch. It’s fascinating to little ones that these and other animals stockpile food for the winter. I love talking to kids about about animal adaptation, and so I think we’ll go for some family hikes to look for evidence of squirrels preparing for winter, and any other animals that might be getting ready too. We’ll read some books, and do some crafts. It’ll be a fun transition into winter, when I’ll need to come up with some winter themes.

Try these fun squirrel ideas:

Here’s a fun use for those toilet paper rolls you have lying around the house — cute cardboard squirrels!

I love this squirrel feeder and observation station for kids to put up in the yard.

Sensory bins are always a hit here, and this squirrel sensory bin is such a cute idea.

Your bigger kids can practice their sewing with this simple flying squirrel felt pattern.

I can’t wait to make these adorable pinecone squirrels with my kiddos, they’re so cute!




I hope these ideas are inspiring, and that you can use some of them to pull together a fun fall for your little ones. Let me know if you can think of any other great autumn theme ideas for preschoolers, and I’ll try to include them next time!


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