For as long as I can remember, fall has been my favorite time of year. The colors, the holidays, the changes – it’s all so magical to me.
I remember the excitement of the first combine ride each fall with my Dad. I could sit for hours on the floor of the cab with my legs crossed and nose pressed against the window watching the ears of corn bounce across the head of the combine.
As an adult, I still get excited about fall. I am mesmerized to watch the trees along my way to work change from green to shades yellow, orange and red. As soon as September rolls around my taste buds salivate for all things pumpkin or apple. Fall fashion is the best. Scarves, puffy vests, long sleeve t’s, boots – what’s not to love?
Fall is also my favorite time of year to visit schools. I can’t help but smile when I walk in a classroom and look around. Handmade scarecrows, leaves, pumpkins and apples cover the walls and even hang from the ceiling. Bulletin boards are cleverly titled Look What’s Growing in our Patch, Harvest a Good Book and School is Apple-Solutly Fun.
Not only is agriculture a natural fit for classroom décor, it’s also a perfect theme for elementary lessons this time of year. But fall activities in the classroom can go beyond pumpkin and apple arts and crafts. Here are my five favorite fall topics for elementary classrooms. The lessons, books and other resources are not only timely and fun, but also make strong connections to agriculture and Iowa Core concepts.
- Corn – How can you think about the fall season in Iowa without thinking of corn? But most students do not realize field corn, not sweet corn, is what Iowa farmers are famous for. Help them understand the difference with these great lessons that reinforce science and math concepts. Or encourage self-guided research on all things corn by using The Life and Times of Corn by Charles Micucci, Corn by Gail Gibbons, or Corn Belt Harvest by Raymond Bail.
- Soybeans – Soybean harvest will soon be underway throughout the state, and fall is a great time to introduce your students to this Iowa crop. The Pod to Plate website features complete lessons, pictures and videos of farmers harvesting soybeans, and an interactive game where students learn about soybean production, transportation, processing, products, and exports. The Super Soybean by Raymond Bial and Lifecycles: Beans by Julie Murray are two of my favorite books on this often overlooked bean. Although out of print, both are available as ebooks.
- Honey – Celebrating National Honey Month with your students in September is easy thanks to the great online resources available from the National Honey Board. The Honey Files Teacher’s Guide is packed with fun activities, games and printable diagrams to help kids learn. Topics covered include pollination, parts of a flower, insects, geography, taste, math and so much more.
- Apples – There are so many great children’s books about apples, but The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman are two of my top picks. I promise their connection to my favorite dessert had no influence on my selection.
- Pumpkins – Are your students studying seeds, plant parts or lifecycles this fall? If so, this the Pumpkin Life Cycle Chain is the perfect addition to your fall lesson line- up and complements the popular book, Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson. By creating a paper model of a pumpkin from seed to brown squishy pumpkin, students review or are introduced to the plant lifecycle and what plants need to grow. The activity is so adaptable and would make a great bulletin board display too!
I hope a few of my fall favorites will become favorites in your classroom and help your students connect agriculture to this magical season.