For those in the northern hemisphere, the return to classes is accompanied by the arrival of fall. As students and teachers get into the full swing of classes and busy schedules, we also start looking forward to apple picking, bonfires, and backyard fun with leaves.
Why not bring some fall fun into the ESL classroom? Here are some suggestions for fabulous fall activities.
Fabulous Fall Activities For Young Learners
This is a great way to either teach or review family vocabulary. Have your students draw a tree trunk with bare branches, or draw your own template to photocopy. Hand out small brown leaves you've previously cut out from brown construction paper, of approximately 2 inches in length, and have students write the names of their family members and who they are, for example, “Karen – sister”. Students paste the leaves onto the branches, with grandparents at the bottom closest to the trunk, and younger members of the family on the outer branches. You can then have a “show and tell” session and ask students to show their family trees to the class and talk about their families.
You’ll need to gather these items: red apples (one for every two students), foam trays, red tempera paint, and white construction paper. Cut cross section of the apples and give each student one apple half. Make sure they understand these are not for eating. Students place one apple half on red tempera, then stamp it onto a sheet of construction paper. You may choose to use them as fall decorations for the classroom, make pretty fall cards, etc...
Why not have a lesson outdoors and enjoy the fall foliage? There are lots of things you can do outside before it gets too cold and learning opportunities abound in a simple exploration of the school yard.
- Tree vocabulary: roots, trunk, bark, branches, leaves, twigs, seeds, pine cones, etc…
- Tree bark rubbings: head outside armed with some sheets of thin drawing paper and crayons. Students choose trees with rough bark, and stick their sheets of paper onto to trunk (use adhesive tape or thumbtacks) for some invigorating rubbing!
- Fun with leaves: there are countless crafts you can do with leaves; leaf rubbings are great fun; students may also collect leaves for a collage; or simply have a competition to see who grabs the most and have them practice their counting in English.
Fabulous Fall Activities For Older Learners
Fall preparations and resolutions
Discuss all of the things students and teachers did to prepare for the return to classes. Remind students that just as they took the time to prepare to go back to school, there are lots of animals that are now making their preparations for the winter. Discuss with students what some of these preparations are; introduce and practice key vocabulary (geese, moose, deer, squirrel s, etc…) and what they do in the fall (migrate, gather acorns, hibernate, etc).
Now’s a great time to discuss with them, if you haven’t already, what they hope to accomplish in the coming year. Have them make a list of resolutions for the new school year, something like:
- make new friends
- learn lots of new words in English
- read more difficult texts in English
- understand a movie without having to read subtitles
Interview Mother Nature
Briefly discuss with students the figure of Mother Nature, and what her role is in the change of seasons. Have each student write a series of interview questions for Mother Nature; they can get as creative as they like, and ask things like:
- What is your favorite season?
- Is your job difficult or easy?
- Do you ever have a vacation?
- Why do leaves fall from trees in autumn?
- Why do birds fly south?
- What’s your favorite animal and why?
- What’s your favorite tree and why?
Each student then swaps questions with a classmate and answers the questions. Remind them that in most cases there may not be a “correct” answer; they may be creative with their answers as well.
Use this vocabulary list to make your own crossword puzzles, word searches, fill in the blanks exercises, and more. With VocabMaker you have the chance to make all types of worksheets; try BingoCardPrinter to make fun bingo cards with fall vocabulary. You can ask students to match pictures to words, or animals to actions, etc… Check out our article on Top 10 Teacher Software Programs for more worksheet makers.
This is the recommended list of fall vocabulary, but you may use or add as many words as you like depending on your students’ level:
A great way to complement any of these activities is with some reading. These are just a couple of recommended books for fall reading, but there are plenty of others available at Amazon.
It's Fall (Celebrate the Seasons)by Linda Glaser, for ages 4 to 8, is a great choice for reading aloud.
Autumn Orange (Know Your Colors)by Christianne C. Jones, for ages 4 to 8, allows children to explore the main color of the fall season.
Fall is a truly magical season. We can feel how the air turns cooler and see how the landscape changes before our very eyes. Sooner than we think, we’ll have to hide indoors, and in some places everything will be covered by a blanket of snow. Take advantage of the opportunities the season offers and fall into some fall fun!