Acorn's for Mr. Squirrel
Smell the air, hear the crunch, see the colors, taste the cinnamon, feel the nip in the air. Fall is here, and we are celebrating the season. With the arrival of fall you are sure to find many nature goodies ready for harvesting, such as the green tomatoes still hanging from the vine or the plethora of acorns scattered beneath the oak brush. This is the perfect time to take children outdoors. The weather is warm, but not hot. The wildlife is out and roaming around for observation, and not just the mosquito. We took our class out onto our "backyard forest" this past month to take a peek at the relationship of the squirrel and the acorn.
A great literary connection to the squirrel and the acorn can be found in this fun book A Friend Like You by Andrea Schomburg and Barbara Rottgen. This fun book develops the message for children that no matter what differences we may have, we can still be best friends.
"And it didn't matter at all that they were very different. It was exactly right, just the way it was."
This is book has a great introduction to the acorn hunt of the squirrel. It was perfect to read this book prior to our "Nature Hunt" for acorns. We knew what we were looking for, the funny nuts with a hat. So we lathered up the sunscreen and headed outside to build up our stash.
On our adventure the students learned how to be brave when heading out into the forest. Yes, there are animals out there, but most animals run away when they hear humans. The first few steps into the woods was hard, but the fear dissipated as soon as we saw the first acorns beneath the oak grove. Big acorns, little acorns, teeny tiny baby acorns. Acorns that have a twin connected and acorns that have no hat, and some hats with no acorns. We found many different acorns as we walked through the forest and out the other side.
The next day the acorns we had found were brought inside for more exploration. Time to bring out the science tools. With the use of a magnifying glass, we were able to see the intricate design on the hat of the acorn. And with the balance we were able to weigh and compare the acorns. We also practiced counting the acorns (1-5) with this fun little rhyme.
We practiced this rhyme along with a fun finger-play. Not only do kids love rhymes and songs, but they love to move with the rhyme. Adding movement to any activity is a great way to strengthen learning, improve memory and retrieval, and enhance learner motivation and morale.
Start with a tree (arm and hand) with 5 acorns (fingers). Move your hand as the wind "rustled all the leaves. Drop a finger as the acorn drops down. And don't forget to smile when Mr. Squirrel is pleased (adds to emotional development).
The students were so fascinated with matching the hats to the acorns as we were digging deeper. We decided to get our paints out and create an acorn craft. This simple craft required paper plates cut in half, brown construction paper cut into triangles, and brown paint and brushes. Children used their brushes to paint the hat of the acorn brown and to paint their hand to put a hand print on the acorn nut. The result was so cute, and the kids loved making GIANT acorns!
We had so much fun exploring acorns and getting out into our "backyard forest". There are so many local areas around Durango where you could head out with your child to explore the "forest". Use this beautiful season that we've fallen into so that you may strengthen your relationship with nature and your child.
Check out this fun article on creating colorful acorns. These would be beautiful to make a fall garland, or even to use as a counting tool/prop for the "Five Little Acorns" rhyme.
Have fun exploring the forest around you!