Fall Harvest Unit

It’s fall, y’all! In this lesson, we will learn how flowering plants go from seed to harvest in the fall. We’ll look closely at pumpkins and pine cones, and we’ll even grow our own sprouts. (No green thumb required—trust us.) Plus, we’ll take a look at one of the most iconic American paintings. If possible, we recommend visiting a pumpkin patch the weekend before or early on in this week so you will have pumpkin seeds to use for two of the lessons. Doesn’t work for your schedule? No problem—we linked seeds you can buy below. To track your progress, click here for a printable worksheet where you can log what you read, what activities you did, and what skills your child has learned.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Can’t get your books in time? Be sure to search the title on YouTube for free read-aloud options.

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Start the week by reading From Seed to Plant. Talk to your child about how the food on their plate took a lot of time and effort to get there, even before we brought it home from the market. But just how does a fruit become a fruit? Today lessons will focus on the life cycle of a seed. This short video explains it in a very simple way.

Activity 1: Using this print-out, review the life cycle of a plant as you cut and paste the stages. 
(+) Is your child ready for a bit more details on the subject? The above print-out also discusses photosynthesis—read through the text along with the pictures for an upgraded lesson.

Activity 2: Pumpkin Seed Counting
(+) To upgrade this math activity, practice sums and subtraction with your seeds by combining the cups and then taking away seeds.

Activity 3: Pom-Pom Pumpkin Stamping Craft

Lesson 2:

Read From Seed to Plant today. Discuss how the plants we eat grow in many ways. Today, we will explore the different ways they grow and try to identify them. Talk to your child about the differences between root vegetables, fruit and vegetables that grow close to the ground or on a vine, and fruit that grows in trees. 

Activity 1: Produce Sorting — If you are able to, take trip to a farmer’s market with your child and explore the fruit and vegetables. See if your child can identify whether the plant grows on a tree, on the ground on a vine, as a leafy vegetable, or beneath the soil as a root. (This might even spark their curiosity and motivate them to want to try new foods!) If you’re unable to go to a market due to COVID-19 or other schedule conflicts, bring out the fruit and veggies in your home and have your child sort them on your table. 

Activity 2: Seed Scavenger Hunt – Can you find seeds in your area? Get outdoors today and do a scavenger hunt with your child for seeds (like acorns and pine cones) around your house or at a nearby park. (Be sure to look for pine cones. We will need about 10 of them later in the week!) Use this print-out to identify the seeds you find.
(+) Ready for an upgrade? This is a great week to start a Nature Journal. Bring home the seeds your child found and let them practice observing and sketching them. Get more tips here for how to build on your nature journal.

Lesson 3:

Today is all about pumpkins! Start by reading From Seed to Pumpkin.

Activity 1: Parts of a Pumpkin Craft – Be sure to sing the song included in her post! You can repeat it throughout the week to help your child work on memorization.
(+) Upgrade this into a more hands-on project by using a real pumpkin that you can dissect while your child learns the names of all the parts.
(-) Need a modification? This Sensory Pumpkin Craft is perfect for little learners.

Activity 2: Letter P Coloring Printable

Activity 3: Pumpkin Loaf – This kid-friendly recipe is nutritious and mixes up quickly in the blender. (Plus, it will make your house smell amazing while it’s baking.) Let you child dump the ingredients in the blender—and because it’s also vegan, they can even taste the batter!

Lesson 4:

Begin by reading Hello, Harvest Moon. Then get ready to use those pine cones you found in your nature scavenger hunt! (Or on Amazon…we won’t tell. 😉)

Start by sharing a few facts about pine cones with your child—you can read a bit about them here. There’s a great picture in that post of a pine cone up close that will help your child to identify the seeds and scales of a pine cone. 

Activity 1: Pine Cone Experiment – Have you ever noticed that pine cones sometimes appear opened and other times closed? This simple experiment teaches why.

Activity 2: Pine Cone Weather Station – Pine cones actually know the weather before you do. This simple project shows how pine cones adapt for survival.

Activity 3: Pine Cone Bird Feeder – We love this simple craft to use up the pine cones after the experiments are done (and provide a fun treat for the neighborhood birds).

Lesson 5:

It’s Art Day! With all this talk of vegetables, how can we not think of farmers? Let’s look at one of the most iconic farmers in the famous painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic. Get expert tips on how to teach children about art here.

Activity 1: American Gothic Parody – Bring art to life by setting up your own parody picture of the American Gothic with your child! If they want to try drawing their own, let them do that, too.

Activity 2: Sweet Potato Propagation Experiment – Did you know you can grow your own sweet potato sprouts with just a sweet potato, water, and sunlight? This experiment takes about a month to see roots and leaves, so take pictures along the way to document the growth. Tip: Use an organic sweet potato for faster growth. 🍠

Activity 3: Yarn Wrapping Craft

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