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Falling for Autumn

Celebrate fall with 16 sites full of K-4 resources on autumn foliage, including printouts, online games, ideas for songs and books, collaborative projects, and even breaking news on the genetics of the changing colors.

The changing fall foliage can be a show stopper on school campuses. This year, bring some new activities and resources into your fall lesson plans with these exciting Web sites. From online puzzles and games to photosynthesis explanations for the elementary classroom and more, it's here. So read on!

EEK! A Tree's True Color
This site by Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources gets top marks just for the acronym EEK: Environmental Education for Kids! All on one main page, information is divided into four sections: Where do leaf colors come from? How do leaves change color? Do leaves change color because of weather? and Why do leaves fall? Text is written at a upper elementary level and is very informal, making this an excellent choice for a KWL activity requiring some independent computer work. Another unique characteristic of this site is its use of mostly student-drawn illustrations. (See the half dozen drawings of leaves). Links to further resources also are listed. EEK is a simple-to-use and quick resource for introducing your fall unit.

Autumn Leaves
This is an easy-to-navigate site with four sections of activities on the changing fall colors. Begin with the online jigsaw puzzle. The number of pieces can be adjusted from 240 to just six, making this is one of the few online activities suited for preschool and kindergarten students. The leaf collection page gives details on collecting leafs in a binder with seven printable (color and black and white!) pages, each containing a description, picture, and short answer blanks on different species of trees. The Learn About Why Leaves Change Color in Autumn page is actually an eight-page online book for students. The graphics and text are designed for students in grade two and up, either as independent work or projected in a whole class presentation. Finally, the Autumn Leaves section displays nine photos of actual leaves. (Note that this site is from Canada and leaves in your area may vary.) Don't miss the pointers on scanning leaves yourself to create your own community's leaf album!

Awesome Autumn
This is one of the few sites in this list that students in grades 3-4 can navigate, research, and take notes on with limited supervision. Begin by having students click the Introduction link and then have them proceed through the site by clicking the Next button on each page. Five online pages are filled with text and graphics for students to read; you might want to have students write down 3-4 facts they learn on each page to keep them motivated and active in the learning process. Then, students can read poems created by other students -- see ideas for activities (both teacher- and student-led!) as well as book suggestions for teachers.

Primary Games' Fall Fun
Primary Games has a variety of teacher-led activities, some online and some in print, on fall and fall foliage. Start with Fall Games; the jigsaw puzzle, slide puzzle, and match game are quick and easy activities for a classroom computer. In particular, students in PK-4 can work on the online Fall Color Jigsaw Puzzle; note that you can change the number of pieces from 20 to 240. The Fall Coloring Pages and Fall Craft sections have printouts to copy for students to color by hand. And don't miss the stationery, with versions for both older and younger students. Print the stationery, or for a fun twist, copy and paste the .jpg image into Microsoft Word or AppleWorks and have students use the Drawing tools or Text Box tools to write on it!

Fall Into Autumn - A Collaborative Project
Fall into Autumn was a 2004 collaborative project for grades K-3. Teachers submitted student work produced with a variety of educational software and all focused on the topic of autumn and changing leaves. Although this is not a current project, the Web site does provide excellent resources and ideas for K-3 teachers. Start at the Student Showcase and view work from students from 40 classrooms in several states and one foreign country. You'll see work created in KidPix, Kidspiration, Excel, Word, as well as work using digital photography. Go to the About this Project link for links to standards, guidelines for duplicating the project, and e-mail contacts for the project coordinators. Finally, don't miss the Resources and Autumnal Books sections for lists of links of online and print materials you can use in your fall unit.



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Article by Lorrie Jackson
Education World®
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Updated 09/10/2012