Welcome to the Connected Mom Sunday School. No matter what the course of your child's education, be it unschooling, homeschooling, or conventional schooling, The Connected Mom Sunday School aims to provide you with fun and easy activities for children of all ages and stages. (Have an idea for a Connected Mom Sunday School activity or theme? Either comment below or send your idea to connectedmom (dot) julian (at) gmail (dot) com.)
This week marks the beginning of Autumn! This time of year brings not only a refreshing break from the summer heat, but also fun opportunities for learning. Grab a jacket and try some of these activities that are taylor made for fall.
Johnny Appleseed's Birthday
If you're eating seasonally, fall is the season for apples! September 26 also marks the birthday of legendary apple tree planter, John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed. Read books about Johnny Appleseed, such as the picture book by Reeve Lindbergh. If there is one nearby, take a walk through an apple orchard and simply experience all it has to offer the senses. Listen to the leaves as they crunch beneath your feet. Smell the ripe apples. Taste the sweetness of a sip of fresh cider. Some orchards may even allow you to pick your own apples. If apples don't grow in your area, visit a farm or orchard that grows a popular local crop instead. What a great way to bring your child in touch with where our food comes from!
Another popular fall crop, pumpkins offer more than just pie or jack-o-lanterns! Your little scientist will have fun observing them in many different ways. Teaching Tiny Tots shares several ideas for sizing up your pumpkin. Measure the weight and height of your pumpkin. Count the number of vertical lines around its outside. Drop it in a large bucket of water, and see if it sinks or floats. Then, using a pumpkin carving knife (kits are usually sold in the fall and are not sharp), cut open the pumpkin. Rinse and count the seeds, using tally marks to keep track. Use the tally marks to practice counting by 5s or 10s. If you like, you can even record your findings on their printable Pumpkin Investigation sheet. Now use your pumpkin however you like. If it's close to Halloween, make a jack-o-lantern. If not, cook your favorite pumpkin recipe or roast the seeds for a snack.
We all admire the colors of autumn leaves. This article from Science Made Simple, does a great job of explaining why the leaves change. Plants use chlorophyll, which gives them their green color, to make food. In the fall, the leaves stop making food, and the green chlorophyll disappears. Then we can see the bright yellows and oranges. Did you know that these colors are in the leaves all year long, but that the green covers them up? Reds and purples are made only in the fall and when the leaves are exposed to light. One way to see this in action is to find a tree that will turn red in the fall: perhaps a maple, flowering dogwood or a sweet gum tree. Before the leaves turn color, cover parts of several leaves with foil or heavy paper and tape (leave them on the tree). Once the leaves have turned, compare the areas that were covered to those left exposed. Where the leaves were covered, you should see only the yellows and oranges that were in the leaves all summer. Reds and purples will show only where the leaves were exposed to light. See the "Older Child (10+)" section for a more in-depth experiment about the colors in leaves.
Older Child (10+)
Hidden Colors in Leaves
From Science Made Simple comes another fun experiment with leaves. In the "School-Aged Child" section, we learned that some colors are in the leaves year-round, even when we can't see them. This experiment allows us to see the hidden colors. Collect 2-3 large leaves from a few different trees. Tear up the leaves and add each type of leaf to an empty glass jar. Pour enough rubbing alcohol into each jar to cover the torn-up leaves, and grind them into the alcohol a bit which a spoon or plastic knife. Cover the jars loosely with lids, foil, or plastic wrap. Set them in a shallow pan in which you have poured one inch of hot tap water. Keep the jars in the water bath until the alcohol has become colored (the darker the better). If the water cools off, replace it with more hot water. Flatten a coffee filter and cut it into long strips, one for each jar. Label each strip with the type of leaf in its jar. Remove the jars from the water bath. Place one end of each strip into its jar. Bend the other end over the rim of the jar and secure it with tape. Within 30-90 minutes, you should begin to see the different colors in the leaf travel to different lengths up the strip. You should be able to see different shades of green, and possibly yellow, orange, or red. Try the same experiment with a fall leaf and compare your results.