Are you looking for more Montessori fall activities at home with your preschooler?
In my previous blog post, I talked about some leaf activities you could try with all of the beautiful and colorful fall leaves. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I didn’t want to stop there with the fall activities!
My three-year-old daughter, Annie, and I picked out our pumpkins and found Indian corn at a local farm stand. We also found small fall objects at a craft store that we could use for our activities.
I came up with some ideas that I remember doing with the kids when I was a Montessori teacher. But I also came up with some new ones at home for Annie. I have 7 Montessori fall activities that are fun and super easy for you to pull together!
Montessori fall activities at home
I enjoy Halloween and the fall. While the weather starts to get colder, fall seems to bring that feeling of warmth and comfort.
I love picking out pumpkins, picking apples, going on hayrides, and enjoying the aroma of fall spices and treats. It’s also a fun time of year to get excited about your Halloween costume and the enjoyment of trick-or-treating!
When I was a Montessori teacher, I always got excited to put out all of the fall and Halloween-themed activities, lessons, and books. The children were excited to see their classroom transform into a world of pumpkins and colorful leaves with enchanting and silly stories and fall baking!
The whole month of October is exciting! I’m working with Annie at home, so I wanted to bring that experience home.
So, I want to help you bring the Fall experience into your home! Here, I present a sequence of Montessori fall activities you can do with what you have. And the best part is that one activity leads to the next to get the most mileage from your materials and your time!
Here are the 7 Montessori fall activities:
1. Scrubbing a pumpkin
Scrubbing activities are great for practicing a multi-step task and learning order. It’s also good for coordination, concentration, and independence. This work includes specific materials and precise steps that the teacher presents to the child in the Montessori classroom.
Also, this work is set up in the classroom so that the child can do it and clean it up for the next person independently. The child gets the water independently and disposes of the used soapy water into a bucket independently.
However, you can be more relaxed and not perfect at home with this. I showed Annie how to do it and let her explore. I helped her get the water and dispose of the used water.
If the weather is still nice, you can do this outside. You can set this up at a table or on the floor inside. If you don’t want to make a big water mess, you can do this in the bathtub or a sink.
You will need:
Pumpkins: If they have dirt on them, that’s even better!
Large Bucket: Optional. You put the bucket on the floor, so it’s easier for your child to dispose of the used water from the basin.
Pitcher: You can fill up the pitcher of water for your child as needed, or they can fill up the water at the sink independently using a step stool.
Two Small Towels: One towel is to put the wet pumpkin on after it’s clean, and the other is to dry the pumpkin. Have more towels ready for spills.
Soap: You can use a small soap bar on a dish or a soap bottle with a pump.
Scrubby Brush: or an old toothbrush
Sponge: Optional. If you don’t have a scrubby brush, you can use a sponge instead, or you could use both!
Small dish or bowl: Optional. It’s a nice place to put the wet and soapy scrubby brush or sponge.
2. Decorating a pumpkin - no carve
Decorating a pumpkin – no carve: Now that your pumpkins are nice and clean, it’s time to decorate them! If you’d prefer not to carve pumpkins with your little one, you can decorate pumpkins. There are so many ideas when it comes to decorating pumpkins.
You can decorate pumpkins with paint and glitter, glue things to them, stick things into them, or use stickers. You can decorate your pumpkin with a face or make it into an animal. Or, your pumpkin can be an open-ended design, or you can paint a picture on it.
How we decorated our pumpkins:
First, we painted the pumpkins with acrylic paint and let them dry.
Second, we added glitter to the hair. We painted Elmer’s glue to the tops of the pumpkins and sprinkled glitter over the glue. Let the glue dry.
Third, we glued gems to the pumpkins to make a Jack-o-lantern faces.
Tips for decorating your pumpkin:
We used water-based acrylic paint because it sticks to the pumpkin better. Note that acrylic paint stains. You can also use kids’ paint, like tempera paint, if you feel more comfortable.
Glitter is very messy. You can do the glitter part outside to prevent glitter from getting everywhere inside your home.
If the gems keep falling off, you can always go back and fix it with a stronger glue later on (hot glue gun, gorilla glue).
3. Hammering golf tees into a pumpkin
Instead, we did hammering nails in a tree stump and hammering golf tees into clay. These are all great activities for fine motor and gross motor skills. And kids love using a hammer!
Be sure to go over important safety rules with your child while using a real hammer. Explain that a hammer is a potentially dangerous object. It’s totally fine if you feel more comfortable using a wooden or kids’ hammer with your child.
It was challenging for Annie to use the real hammer because it was very heavy. A kids’ hammer is easier to handle, but they are very light. It can be challenging to get the golf tees into the pumpkin with the light toy hammer.
So I hammered the golf tees with the real hammer halfway first. Then, Annie continued hammering with the kids’ hammer. Annie had fun pulling the golf tees out and hammering them back in!
Decorate the holes in the pumpkin:
I also found these cute little pumpkin bulbs with a little peg on the end that fit perfectly into the holes. I found them at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. We made as many holes as possible with the golf tees and then put the bulbs in the pumpkin.
We opened the top of this pumpkin and scraped out all the insides. This activity is an engaging hands-on way to learn about the guts of a pumpkin. I’ve done this in the classroom with the kids, too, closer to Halloween.
Keep in mind that many kids don’t like the slimy texture of the pumpkin, but some do! Once we emptied the pumpkin, we put battery-operated tea candles inside. It’s hard to see the bulbs light up in the daylight.
So we tried to shine a flashlight into the pumpkin. The pumpkin looked beautiful with all of the orange bulbs lighting up! Putting the little bulbs into the pumpkin reminded me of a toy I had when I was a kid, Lite-Brite! Do you remember that toy?
4. Dye (color) pumpkin seeds
Dye (color) pumpkin seeds: After we scooped out all of the pumpkin’s insides, we kept the pumpkin seeds to do more activities with them! We dyed them so we would have different colors. Dying pumpkin seeds is just like dying Easter eggs!
You will need:
- Pumpkin seeds washed and dried
- Food coloring
- 1 cup of water per jar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar per jar
- Cups or glass jars to dye the pumpkin seeds in
- Spoons to stir the seeds
- Parchment paper
- Baking/cookie sheet
How we dyed the pumpkin seeds:
- Choose four colors and equally divide the pumpkin seeds into four small mason jars.
- Pour the water and vinegar into each jar and add several drops of food coloring to the jars.
- Stir the seeds to be sure that they all get colored.
- Let the seeds sit in the food coloring for several hours. I added more food coloring and continued to stir the seeds periodically.
- When the seeds look coated with the coloring, strain the seeds and place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet to let them dry.
- We had to let them dry overnight because they were very wet.
Tips for dying pumpkin seeds
Next time, we’ll try a different way to see if the colors come out more vibrant and longer-lasting. You could also put the seeds in plastic baggies with the food coloring to squish around.
Then you can put them on a baking sheet and dry them in the oven on low heat. We’ll try that next time!
Our pumpkin seeds came out lightly colored. Also, some seeds started peeling after being handled a lot. Also, some of the colors came off.
5. Colored pumpkin seed sorting
Colored pumpkin seed sorting: Now that we dyed the pumpkin seeds and they are dry and ready to use, we tried color sorting work.
Annie loved this! She was determined to sort all of the pumpkin seeds. She poured them back into the big bowl after sorting them, and she wanted to continue sorting.
Sorting is a popular Montessori practical life activity that you’ll see in the classroom. You can sort all kinds of things like beads, rocks, gems, seashells, pom poms, miniature objects, or other natural objects. You can sort any object by color, shape, size, or type.
Sorting is excellent for preschoolers because they’re in the sensitive period for order. Sorting is also a hands-on sensory activity, and the media is easily changeable to fit the season or motif!
The other cool thing about sorting is that its preparation for math. When your child practices sorting, it prepares your child for mathematical and logical thinking, like multiplication and division.
More ideas with dyed pumpkin seeds:
Glue them to make a picture, mosaic, or pattern.
Use them for counting work or simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
Use them for practical life activities like pouring and spooning.
6. Indian corn picking with fingers or tweezer
Indian corn picking with fingers or a tweezer: We always had this in our classroom in the practical life area every fall. It’s a fun activity and great for strengthening fingers to get the hand ready for using a pencil.
It is a little tricky at first, but once you start popping off the corn kernels, you feel like you have to keep going, like popping bubble wrap!
Note that fingers can get tired after a while, so taking breaks is essential. You can also use a tweezer for popping off the corn kernels. Using a tweezer seems like it would be more challenging, and it is, in some ways. However, the corn kernels pop off easier this way but tend to pop/fly across the room if you catch one at the proper angle.
Using a tweezer also doesn’t tire out your fingers as quickly. Be sure to go over safety rules with your child about using a tweezer since this could be a potentially dangerous object.
Tip: Once you have gotten all of the corn kernels off the cob, use the cob as a rolling pin for play dough. This is an excellent way to explore texture!
7. Open-ended sensory tray with Indian Corn
Open-ended sensory tray with Indian Corn: You can collect the corn kernels into a bowl and use the corn for all kinds of activities:
- using a funnel
- tweezing or tonging
- sorting by different color kernels
You’d see these activities and tools in the Montessori classroom on separate trays because they require different fine motor abilities and skill levels. After trying this, I mixed up some of the tools and made it more of an open-ended activity, like a sensory tray.
Pouring with a funnel is a great way to practice precision in pouring. We would use a funnel for pouring water or dry rice into small neck bottles and vases in the classroom.
Annie used a funnel for the first time here, and she was so fascinated by it! She preferred to turn it upside down and drop the corn kernels into the small hole.
Annie loved exploring with this sensory tray!
I put this tray together with:
- a bowl filled with the corn kernels
- two recycled glass yogurt cups
- small carafe
- small metal creamer
She loves taking this off the shelf independently to work on it throughout the day!
My original idea was to just come up with fall and pumpkin ideas with Annie at home, as I’ve done in the Montessori classroom.
While doing some of the activities familiar to me, I realized that each activity was a step that naturally progressed into the next step. It was fantastic to see how you can reuse items to pull together something new!
You don’t have to try every activity I presented here, and you may have already tried a different variation of these activities with your child at home.
Is fall one of your favorite times of the year also? What activities will you try with your child at home? Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
Note: if you love fall, check out my previous post, 7 Awesome Leaf Activities for Preschoolers Plus a Printable. You can download my fall themed cutting strips activity by signing up for the resource library, below!
20 thoughts on “7 Montessori Fall Activities that are Fun and Easy to Set Up”
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Hammering into a pumpkin. Mind blown. I do remember my son washing a lot of random things in preschool, but I don’t remember the hammer. Very cute.
What great activities for the Falls season. Love that it’s hands on for the kids and lets them use all their sensory senses.
I love how many different ways you found to interact with a pumpkin! It’s so nice to have multiple activity ideas without having to have tons of stuff to make it work. Can’t wait to try these with my kids.
I wish my kids were still little, these activities look awesome! The colors of those seeds are gorgeous!
Pumpkin painting is a great idea!
such fun activities. am going to share with family who have young kiddos who will love these..
What a creative idea. I love those colorful pumpkin seeds! My kids loved sensory activities and these would all be cute for children to do.
Coloring the pumpkin seeds and then sorting them is something I haven’t seen before. Perfect for my two year old.
All of these are great ideas! We’re going to the pumpkin patch this weekend and plan on doing some of these!
These are very simple yet entertaining activities for kids. I love the color sorting but I think my kids would love getting dirty with color paints.
I love these activities, and I am sure my son will have fun doing this.
These are all fun activities that my kids would love.
These are such cute and creative activities! I am going to send this to my friend who’s homeschooling her daughter.
I love that you can use the same pumpkin for more than one activity like the lights and seeds. I can’t wait to try these with my daughter!
I was a previous Montessori student and have sent 2 of my children to Montessori schools for some of their education. These activities are definitely variations on Montessori activities. I love how the pumpkin can be used for so many learning tasks and used throughout for continuous interaction.
These ideas are brilliant! I have an almost 3 year old son and we do have some small pumpkins laying around the house that we can get creative with. Thanks for these ideas!
Emily | Good Mom Living
How fun all of these ideas are! My daughter will live to paint a pumpkin!
I loved all the activities, epsecially the one where your daughter is decorating the pumpkin, she looks so happy. The one with making holes with golf tee is also cool, my kid will love doing that.
Great tips and such cute photos too! I can’t wait to try some of these activities. Thanks for sharing!