Fall Activities for Kids: Planning Engaging Autumn Centers

Planning fall activities for kids is fun and easy with these engaging resources your students will love completing in centers or independent time this autumn.

Who’s ready for fall?! I know I sure am! As much as I love the summer months, I always look forward to the fall season. I’m a big fan of the crisp autumn air, comfy sweaters, and pumpkin everything. Not to mention, the changing leaves and approaching holidays make for some pretty fantastic classroom themes too! If you’re ready to dive into fall with fresh ideas for learning, come along to see some of my favorite fall activities for kids!

Planning fall activities for kids is fun and easy with these engaging resources your students will love completing in centers or independent time this autumn.

Embracing Thematic Teaching for Fall

If you’ve been around here a while, you likely already know how much I love thematic teaching. Thematic teaching allows you to target a variety of subjects while focusing on one central theme. This teaching style pulls in the attention of your students, keeps things feeling fresh, and even makes planning easier. What’s not to love?!

Fall activities for kids like this 5 senses activity are great to add to your fall thematic activities and centers this autumn.

When deciding on a theme, you’ll want to make sure you choose one (or a few) that can be used across many subjects. Luckily, fall has MANY theme options that fit the bill! In my Fall Thematic Activities & Centers, we focus on the following:

  • fall leaves & trees
  • seasonal changes
  • scarecrows
  • turkeys
  • 5 senses
  • healthy foods

These themes are perfect for working on throughout September and through November to help soak up all the fall goodness! To prepare for fall themes in the classroom, you’ll want to do things like swap out the books in your class library, add themed materials to your writing center, plan some thematic math and literacy centers, and select crafts and science experiments that go along with your theme. Ready to hear how I do this in my classroom? Let’s chat about the specifics!

Step One: Bring on the Fall Vibes with Books

It’s no secret that I LOVE children’s books. They’ll always hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. One of the biggest though is how beautifully they can tie a theme together. Whether it’s a favored topic or a brand new concept for your students, books can help you immerse the whole classroom in learning. If you’re ready to start exploring fall themes with your students, make your first stop at the library!

Include beautifully written and illustrated books like these in your fall activities for kids to kick off your autumn learning.

Read-aloud time always makes the cut when it comes to planning my fall activities for kids. I have tons of favorite books for fall, but some of my favorites include:

When choosing books for fall, be sure to pick out ones that align with your focus themes, and would also appeal to your crowd. Personally, I like to mix in some silly, just-for-fun books with a nice amount of non-fiction books. This strikes the perfect balance between goofy stories and important info during storytime.

Step Two: Focus on Fall Science & Social Studies

Science and social studies are key in much of my lesson planning. I’m a big fan of choosing a few topics that relate to our central theme and using them throughout the month.

Use a turkey life cycle activity like this in your fall activities for kids to enhance your science activities this autumn.

This is a great way to teach students about the world around them, build classroom community, and tie your lessons together. Not to mention, science and social studies-based activities are always a hit! In the fall, I love exploring topics such as:

  • the life cycles of trees
  • why leaves change color
  • our five senses
  • healthy foods
  • the life cycle of turkeys

We use mini-readers to discover more about these topics as a class. They’re great for reading aloud during whole-group instruction, and then revisiting in depth during small groups. We follow up with worksheets, center games, and even fun activities like Turkey Life Cycle Crowns to tie these lessons together.

Step Three: Choose Fall Activities for Center Time

If you work with littles, you probably already know how crucial center time is to learning. Centers help keep students interested in practicing key skills and offer opportunities for hands-on learning. As a primary teacher, center time is the key to unlocking engaged learning day after day!

Choosing center time activities like this to include in your fall activities for kids will give your students so many opportunities to practice key skills in fun ways.

An important piece of keeping children engaged in centers is to ensure that the activities feel fresh and new, even if you’re focusing on the same skills. The best way to do this is by embracing thematic teaching when planning centers. Choosing a new theme every couple of weeks means that your activities will look and feel brand new, but you’ll still be able to target previously worked-on concepts.

When fall rolls around, our center materials get a refresh. All of the math, literacy, and writing skills we focus on are tied together with fall themes like autumn leaves, seasonal changes, Thanksgiving, scarecrows, and more!

Fall Activities for the Math Center

First up, let’s talk about fun, fall activities for your math center! In the fall, kiddos are working on a variety of fundamental math skills. Center time is a great way to strengthen those skills in a fun, hands-on way. Some of my favorites for this time of year include:

Build it and count it activities like these will give your students fun hands on math practice when included in your fall activities for kids this autumn.
  • Fall Build it Count it Activity
  • Feed The Scarecrow Counting Game
  • Leaf Size Sort Games
  • Leaf Measuring Center Activity
  • Fall Shape Matching Pocket Chart Games

I love that these math activities are versatile enough to be used in both small groups and center time as well. I choose activities that focus on concepts students are familiar with for center time and use activities with new skills for small groups and whole-group teaching.

Fall Literacy Center Activities

Next, let’s chat about literacy games for fall. The primary classroom is working on literacy all year long. To help keep this fun and engaging in the fall, we use a variety of fun activities including:

  • Feed the Turkey Beginning Sounds
  • Roll & Cover Uppercase and Lowercase Letters
  • Pocket Chart Letter Matching Games 
  • “How To Rake Leaves” Readers & Sentence Building Pocket Chart Activity

These literacy games can be used in many ways as well. Once kiddos know how to use the “Roll & Cover” worksheets, these make a great, independent morning work activity.

Just make enough copies for your class, and provide kiddos with writing supplies and dice. Repurpose the activity for early-finishers or as homework assignments.

Fall Activities for the Writing Center

Do you struggle to get your students excited about writing? If so, you’re not alone! The writing center is an often underutilized space in the primary classroom. One of the best ways to help make it more appealing is to jazz it up with thematic activities.

In the fall, I love using directed drawing pages to help encourage young writers. These pages walk students through drawing fall images like apples, leaves, pumpkins, sunflowers, and squirrels. Then, students get to write about their drawings.

Another fun way to make writing feel special is with fun writing craftivities. I love using writing activities like our All About Turkeys Book and Craftivity to wrap up our fall activities.

This is a great opportunity to review what you’ve learned throughout your study, focus on some creative writing, and make a cute craft too.

Students love to write fun facts about turkeys that we learned from our turkey mini books and read-aloud time. This activity is completed by adding some fun cut-outs to make the turkey. This is a great activity to complete before Thanksgiving break, as parents LOVE seeing the finished product.

Step Four: Choose Special Fall Activities for Kids

Finally, I saved the BEST for last! After you’ve got your math and literacy centers squared away, it’s important to think about those “extra” activities that will help boost engagement throughout the month. While I’m calling these “extra”, they’re really essential in my book, because they help our students develop that life-long love of learning we’re hoping to continuously instill.

Think of these as the activities that will stand out in your students’ memory. Often, these are the ones that help them retain what they’ve learned, and make them excited for next month too! Inside my All About Autumn Resource, you’ll find additional activities like:

  • Scarecrow Shape Craftivity
  • Fall Snack/Goodie Bag Toppers
  • Fall Snack Recipes & Writing Pages
  • Food Sorting Game (Healthy & Junk Food)
  • Fall Snap Cube & Playdough Mats and more!

These extra special fall activities are the cherry on top of your lessons. Add these activities in on Fun Fridays, during circle time, or sprinkled throughout the week for an extra bit of fall fun the whole class will enjoy!

Planning Engaging Fall Activities in Your Classroom

Fall activities for kids centers like these are sure to keep your students excited about learning key skills this autumn.

Hopefully, you found something that inspired your fall lesson plans!

When it comes to planning fall activities for kids, I’m sure you’ve gathered that I’m a big fan of thematic teaching.

It really does help make the skills you’re focusing on more fun, PLUS you can count on higher engagement. It’s a total, win-win in my book!

If you’re looking for ways to simplify your fall lesson planning, be sure to check out my All About Autumn Fall Centers and Activities. This resource is absolutely jam-packed with everything you need to plan fun and engaging fall activities for kids! Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a homeschooling family, this resource will be your one-stop-shop for all things fall!

And if you’re looking for more information on how to get started with thematic teaching, be sure to check out these posts:

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