The fall season is an all-time favorite for many with the changing colors and holiday excitement underway. As a parent, you want to make sure that your kiddos are getting the most out of their early fall experiences. Placing a focus on early development for your toddler is easier than you might think. We break down some areas to focus on so that your little munchkin can have a very happy and memorable season.
Focus on the Senses
We know that you have that one tree in your backyard that just scatters a ton of leaves across the ground. Take this as an opportunity for your toddler’s early development. Leaves often come in a variety of textures, shapes, and colors. This is gold for a fun sensory game! Collect leaves in a bin, and try to keep the leaf types as diverse as possible. Add other outdoor items that have fun textures like rocks or seeds. Be careful not to put anything too pokey or thorny in the bin though as your child is tasked with feeling the different textures in the bin. They are welcome to bring figures to the party and have them explore along with them. To add to the sensory activities theme, incorporate the use of paint. Use hands and feet to paint fall trees onto paper. You can also check out our fall sensory activity blog for even more ideas. Whatever textures you discover this fall, make sure your little one gets in on the action.
Fall Gross Motor Skill Activities
Although the weather is a little colder than usual, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still be active. Go on an autumn scavenger hunt for different items like leaves, rocks, pinecones, acorns, and pumpkins. Have your little one go through a list and see what they can find in the great outdoors. Of course, you don’t need a fancy activity to make fall fun. Sometimes just going on a nature walk to see what you can discover is a great way to work on gross motor skills. There are plenty of local areas where you can admire the leaves. Click here to find a handy list of colorful local locations. This is the time to love on autumn while getting that body moving. Your toddler’s early development will thrive with all of the outdoor adventurings.
Fall Foods and Snacks
This is the season to mix it up at mealtime! It’s true that there are so many recipes to try that are fall-themed. For your kiddo though, we suggest focusing on introducing textures, food combos, and food colors that are either new or not frequently eaten. Pumpkin, apple spice, and maple are all great flavors to add to your kiddo’s meal repertoire. If you find something that your child doesn’t like, you may try introducing that flavor in a brand new way. Perhaps your child doesn’t like pumpkin by itself, but they seem to love pumpkin pancakes. Experiment and explore a new world of seasonal food to love for the years to come.
Fall Fine Motor Skill Activities
Fall is a great time to focus on the fine! Fine motor skill activities seem to be so abundant during the fall season because it’s getting colder and you tend to spend more time indoors. Your little one can crack out the crayon box and color these fall coloring sheets. When it comes to early development, getting crafty this season can also work those smaller muscles in the hands and wrists. Try these fall craft ideas at home with your tyke. Whether you’re finding things for two-year old’s to do or any age above, crafting and coloring to a fall theme is sure to get your child thinking about the fall season while sharpening developmental skills all around. These activities may be simple, but they are super effective for learning.
Fall Speech Activities for Early Development
We’ve covered a lot of areas that you can focus on when it comes to early development, but don’t forget the importance of speech and language development this fall. How can you do that? It’s really easy! All you need to do is interact with your child and expose them to as much language as you can. When you go on your nature walk to see the leaves, point out the different colors and fall objects to your little one. They may even learn some new vocabulary. Give some fall books a try too. We really love “We’re Going On A Leaf Hunt” by Steve Metzger, but you can certainly browse local books stores or places to buy books online. Your child might find one that they really love too, and they’ll want you to read a few times during storytime. Remember, when it comes to language and early development, there’s really no such thing as too much. Giving your kids plenty of exposure to language will help them go a long way in reaching many milestones to come this fall season and beyond.
Need improvement with gross motor skills? Fine motor skills? Sensory development? Feeding? We have it all for you this season to round out those early developing skills. Start with an evaluation with our Occupational Therapy team.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2021 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.