Turning Over a New Leaf: A Storytime for Fall

The San Francisco Bay Area is unusual in that September and October are often the hottest months of the year. But lately we’ve actually had what feels like Autumn weather, which made it perfect for a Fall-themed storytime in the park.

Here’s what we did:

Books:

The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry & The Fan Brothers

Very sweet rhyming story about a scarecrow who rescues an injured baby crow, and raises it until it flies away. The scarecrow is lonely through the long winter, until the crow returns and starts a family. The illustrations are beautiful.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Colorful leaf collages form different animals and scenes in this simple story about a Leaf Man who blows away on the wind. I’ve also followed up this book by having the kids make “leaf people” of their own, which is a lot of fun.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein

I love the simplicity of this story about a young bear who is surprised when the leaves fall off of the trees, and tries to stick them back on. We had handed out play scarves before we read this one, and we had the kids toss their scarves in the air during the parts about the falling leaves. Claire also dropped some actual leaves as we read.

Songs & Rhymes:

Scarecrow, Scarecrow

To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. I got this one from Little Fox — Kids Songs and Stories.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, turn around.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, touch the ground.

Stand up tall and blink your eyes.

Raise your hands up to the sky.

Clap your hands, then tap your knees.

Turn around and tap your feet.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, touch your toes.

Scarecrow, Scarecrow, tap your nose.

Swing your arms so very slow,

Now real fast to scare the crows!

Touch our head, jump up and down.

Now sit down without a sound.

Two Little Blackbirds

I had done this one last week too, so it was fresh on the kids’ minds.

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, (Hold up both thumbs)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one thumb behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other thumb behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first thumb out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second thumb out in the front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow.
One flew high,
And the other flew low…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

Way Up High in the Apple Tree

This is a classic rhyme that works really well for toddlers and preschoolers. Today Claire and I held up maracas shaped like apples as a visual the first two times we did it, and then asked for suggestions of another fruit that could be in the tree (the kids chose oranges) the third time.

Way up high in the apple tree (stretch arms up)

Two little apples smiled at me (made circles with the thumb and fingers of each hand).

I shook that tree as hard as I could! (shake imaginary tree)

Down came the apples (lower arms quickly)

Mmmm! They were good! (rub stomach)

Leaves are Falling on the Ground

To the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. I got this one from PreschoolExpress.com, who credits Jean Warren as the author. We handed out play scarves before we sang it, and pretended they were leaves falling through the air, then swished them in the air like rakes for the second verse:

The leaves on the trees are falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
The leaves on the trees are falling down,
All through the town.

Let’s rake the leaves into a mound,
Into a mound, into a mound.
Let’s rake the leaves into a mound
All through the town.

The kids in the town jump up and down,
Up and down, up and down.
The kids in the town jump up and down,
All through the town.

What Falls in the Fall? by Laurie Berkner

This is a really catchy, moody song for Fall. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Rain falls in the Fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down ,[Am] down.
[Am] The rain is falling down,
[F] Puddles on the ground,
[F] It’s wet beneath my feet in the [Am] Fall.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Temperatures fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down, [Am] down.
[Am] It’s when the summer ends,
[F] You’ve got to hug your friends,
[F] To keep your body warm in the Fall [Am].

[G] And when the leaves start to [C] change,
[F] It’s beautiful to me.
[G] Red, gold, and yellow [C] colors all around,
[F] High up in the trees.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Leaves fall in the Fall
[G] Down, down, down, down, [Am] down.
[Am] They twirl everywhere,
[F] And I throw them in the air.
[F] They crunch beneath my feet in the [Am] Fall.

[Am] What falls in the Fall?
[F] Kids fall in the Fall.
[G] Down, down, down, down, [C] down.

Stay & Play: Leaf Rubbings

This was a really simple process art activity that many of the kids (and grown-ups) had never done before. I put out leaves of different shapes and sizes (along with some Scotch tape for anyone who wanted to tape their leaf to the back of the paper to hold it in place), along with crayons to do leaf rubbings.

One thing I forgot to take into account is that the concrete tables at the park have a bumpy texture of their own that also came through in the rubbings. But the kids still enjoyed the magic moment when the leaf shape appeared, and loved trying out the different crayon colors. Some of the caregivers commented that they had never thought to try this activity with their kids before.

What are your favorite picture books about Autumn? Please share them in the comments below.