Learning with fall harvest activities
Fall brings the last of fresh corn on the cob, corn mazes, deer corn, multicolored corn, stalks, and popcorn around camp fires.. Now is a good time to help young children learn about this common plant and important part of our food supply and history.
You’ll need corn in the husk, corn seeds, Indian corn, paper plates, white paper, yellow and green construction paper, glue, and tape.
While shopping help children decide how many ears of corn needed for your family. Talk about quality, and count them out. If you see stalk bunches in a store or garden examine the rest of the plant.
Parts of Plants
Once home, husk the corn together and point out the kernels, silk, husk, cob, leaves, and stem. Make some cornbread or try corn tacos, tortillas, corn chips, tamales or popcorn (suggested for children over four years old).
Fall is a good time to find dried corn seeds for animal feed. Soak the corn over night, put four or five seeds on a wet paper towel, and place them inside a plastic sandwich baggie. Set the bag near a window and watch the little corn plant begin to send out roots, shoots and leaves. They can be planted in a cup of soil.
Dried corn kernels and multicolored corn kernels can be used for fun activities. Children can use them for counting to 20 or for sorting into different colored piles. To make a noisy musical shaker, place 20 kernels between two paper plates. Tape the plates together and decorate the outsides with ribbons and designs.
Practice spelling first names by printing your child’s name with big pencil or marker letters on a paper strip. Use a capital for the first letter and then lower case for the others. Supervise children as they trace over the letters with white glue, and place kernels on the letters to form the word. Allow to dry and help children trace the letters with a finger.
To make a corn decoration, help children cut a cob shape out of heavy paper, then tear little pieces of yellow construction paper to make pretend kernels. Glue them on the form and add some green paper leaves for the husk.
Wrapped up in just a few activities are preschool math, prereading skills, botany, cutting, gluing and tearing to develop fine motor skills.
The library or your favorite book store has some good books to read while munching on popcorn and apples: “Corn Maize” by Aliki, “Vegetables We Eat” and “Corn” by Gail Gibbons, “Popcorn” by Fran Asch, “The Popcorn Book” by Tomie De Paola, and “Julius’s Candy Corn” by Kevin Henkes. For more activities to help your children see grandparentseachtoo.blogspot.com, wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons podcasts and live.
Editor’s note: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.