Discovering Signs of Autumn

abc doesBoys Learning, Child Initiated Learning, Creativity, Environment3 Comments


I've been wanting to enhance my sand tray for a while. The children have now added so much water to it (on the sly) that it would take at least a month to dry out!

My TA's dumped that bag of compost in it yesterday and today we added some signs of  autumn for the children to discover. We have looked at the trees in the playground, discussed the leaves changing colour and had the odd random conker brought in, but I really wanted to have the opportunity to focus in on the language in a small group situation so we buried them in the compost (that's buried said signs of autumn, not the small group…).

I had just the BEST time working with them digging for the autumn treasures. Their enthusiasm was infectious and at some point all of the adults spent some time digging. That was until we discovered that there were indeed live things in it. When we tipped it out yesterday there were a fair few slugs. Today…not a slug to be found! Plenty of other mini-beasts though!




You can see the concentration!


This little chap caused MASS HYSTERIA and that was just from the staff!


I get the feeling that this will run and run. Have GOT to utilise it for other things as the level of engagement was so high.

If that wasn't excitement enough we did our dying today – I was really pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Even though it was only 2 days ago it was like pulling teeth with some of the children  just to recall what we had done with the cabbages, but we got there in the end!

I really debated about using elastic bands to tie dye as they are really fiddly. In the end I decided to use them to differentiate for those children we had already identified as being able to triangulate. The others worked with the adults help. Lots of children managed it well independently.


They then dipped them in the cabbage water (which really STANK) gave them a squeeze and then we put them in the tumble drier so that they would be dry by the end of the session.

I wasn't sure how to fix the colour and read a number of things that suggested salt and vinegar. In the end I went for salt as we had loads for our dough area. I don't know if it has worked and I don't intend to wash them to find out!

Here are the results…

 They were really blue with some more subtle shades of purple. The children were really chuffed with the results.

It was only at the end of the process when I was talking to the children about this vegetable that was a cabbage but didn't look like a cabbage, that was bright purple but was called ' red ', and produced purple water, when boiled, that dyed fabric blue, that I suddenly appreciated how confusing it must be to be 3 and discovering this weird old world  for the first time!


3 Comments on “Discovering Signs of Autumn”

  1. Am loving your blog, found it via a Pinterest post! I’m of sick from work at the moment and slowly reading through your posts is staving off the cabin fever and getting me inspired for when I’m back at work. I teach a ks1 special needs class and we are looking into extending eyfs approaches into our teaching, your stuff is really inspiring!

  2. I am addicted to your blog. It is one of the best sources of inspiration! I LOVE IT! I have already implemented some of your ideas into my classroom and work…….but there is one question I need to ask……..
    Your Army Camp…….tell me more about it …please…? I have an even split of boys and girls in my class. Since the beginning of term a great number of the boys are obsessed with guns, rifles and are very knowledgeable about what make of gun does what! I too would like to lead this on to an outdoor army camp style set up and am thinking along the lines of jungle/camo net. What else are you doing in yours? What are you challenging them to make/do? I really want to do it…but I can’t quite see my challenge cards working ( see below) What are the boundaries?…… I am finding this side of setting up difficult to say the least. I want to move them on in their and my thinking…a challenge! Oh and OFSTED are probably going to land in the next two weeks or so.
    Possible Challenge Cards?
    1. can you kill 1 enemy…lol
    2. can you kill 5 spies…lol
    3. can you murder your class teacher without leaving a trace….lol
    ps there are also a number of children who love farms, so maybe I should take the ‘easy’ option and do this instead?

  3. This looks fab! I so want to be there! colours are confusing – we bought the natural range of food colourings from the supermarket to be pc! and ?????????? added a whole bottle! yes every drop to our blue playdough and its gone! when we mixed it in, we added pink/red to our buns and they turned green!!!!!! a lot to be said for the wonderment of colours! bless them xx

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