Do you remember celebrating the harvest festival at primary school? The tinned food collection, bread wreath making, learning hymns and then finally the church service which signalled the end of school term here in Scotland. It may not have been your favourite event when you were a child, but there are lots of ways to make learning about harvest fun! Toddlers are fascinated with farm vehicles and they will love to learn all about harvest too! I may be a little late with my harvest post this year, but it’s still jam packed with fun ideas to teach your toddler about Harvest all Autumn long.
This post may contain affiliate links. To read my policy, please click here.
Why is learning about harvest important?
Harvest is an essential part of life. If we didn’t collect fruit and vegetables in preparation for winter we would starve. Especially here in Scotland! Teaching our children to appreciate the beauty and science of growing food is important, because it means they will have a deeper understanding of where they food comes from, how to feed themselves and how to look after the environment.
Harvest is also tied to the seasons; learning about the annual cycle of the weather and environment helps your child to understand the world they live in, the concept of time passing, and it helps them to cope with transitions. So let’s get started planning some seasonal activities to help your little one grasps these big ideas!
No. 1 Harvesting potatoes tuff tray
Hands up who loves messy play? I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you need a bit of convincing I have written a whole blog post on why messy play is important. We love messy play in our house, so it was top of our list for learning all about harvest. Harvest time is when farmers collect all of the vegetables from the fields and prepare the soil for the next crops. So what better way to teach your toddler all about it than with their very own soil filled tuff tray?
My son absolutely loved the chance to harvest his own vegetables. And the taste safe soil I used made my house smell fantastic! You can grab the recipe for my Taste Safe Play Soil and Spaghetti Worms here. Then all you need is a bag full of your favourite veg – potatoes, carrots, parsnips – and voila! The perfect veg patch in your living room. If you have some wooden vegetables or toy tractors why not get them involved too. It’s guaranteed to get even the most grumpy grown ups off of their bottoms and on to the floor for some messy play fun!
no. 2 The Little Red Hen
One of the most famous children’s stories that features harvest is The little Red Hen. We picked up our copy from Home Bargains for less than a £1. Absolute bargain! And I couldn’t resist having a harvest themed play session featuring the characters from the Little Red Hen. We used oats, farm animals, apples, onions and of course our very own wooden hen toy to re-enact the story.
N0 3 Harvest your hedgerows
The UK has fantastic hedgerows. Did you know that you could do some of your very own harvesting from real live hedgerows near your home? We are very lucky and live in a rural village surrounded by cherry trees, blackberry bushes and apple trees. It’s great fun to take a tub and collect as much fruit as we can.
Remember to go for bushes that are away from the roads and choose fruit that has grown higher up to minimise the chances of ingesting exhaust fumes or animal urine. Give your fruit a good wash under the tap at home or take a bottle of water with you so you can rinse it when you are out and about instead.
It’s also important to ensure you know what you are looking for before you head out harvesting. Not all berries are edible and some can be dangerous. That’s why we go for things like blackberries which are easy to spot and very distinctive. Joseph loves eating berries straight from the bush and we are hoping to find some conkers to play with in the next few weeks too!
No 4 Bake a harvest treat
Toddlers love baking so what better way to demonstrate where our food comes from than by baking a delicious harvest treat. You could use up that delicious rhubarb, those ample apples or even your brimming blackberries in a seasonal crumble. You can find a fantastic apple crumble recipe here.
If you aren’t sure about harvesting wild fruit, why not ask a friend with a veg patch or visit a local farm shop to purchase some special harvest treats? Seasonal vegetables like potatoes, carrots and parsnips make great soup too. Your toddler will love helping to peel and chop the vegetables and practice those all important fine motor skills at the same time.
No 5 Donate to a foodbank
As well as enjoying your own harvest, it is important to remember that not everyone is as lucky. Being aware of where your food comes from is a great life lesson, but it also important that we teach our toddlers to be grateful for the abundance too. Create your own harvest festival basket by collecting tinned food and cereals to donate to your local foodbank. Supermarkets often have donation collection points, but you can also find out about your local foodbank services online or by checking with local community centres, libraries and churches.
No 6 Harvest Bingo
Remember to get out and enjoy the seasonal sights and sounds. Harvest is a busy time of year and you will often see farmers hard at work in the fields working long days. What better way to record what you see than a game of Harvest Bingo? I have made this FREE Harvest Bingo card for you to enjoy with your toddler. Make your walk super exciting by keeping your eyes peeled for tractors, hay bales and combine harvesters then mark them off on your Bingo Card. Tick them or stamp them and see how many you can find. Remember to shout ‘bingo!’ when you get three in a row!
No 7 Walk through a stubble field
Not only are there farm vehicles and hay bales to spot, but stubble fields are popping up all over the place. These are fields where the crop has already been harvested and only the short stubbly stalks remain. Stubble fields are a great way to demonstrate harvest to your child and they also provide lots of opportunities for walking and playing on a new, exciting terrain. But get in their quick, one the farmers decide to plough the soil the field will change rapidly and you wont’ be allowed to walk in it any more.
No 8 Pipecleaner bird feeder
Harvest draws our attention to nature with the growth and abundance of food. However, it is also important to think about the wildlife. As the colder weather sets in and the fruits and vegetables disappear, some animals will struggle to find food. Do something kind for your local wildlife and teach your child to care for the world around them. Put out some bird seed or, better yet, make these beautiful, decorative, hanging bird feeders with nothing a but a pipe cleaner and some Cheerios.
No 9 Harvest flash cards
Harvest is full of interesting language and its important to reinforce our toddlers learning by introducing the written word. This will help your toddler to develop what is known as a ‘sight vocabulary’. Before children can sound out words using phonics, they can memorise whole words like images. So keep emphasising those written words and introduce some new vocabulary using my Harvest Flash Cards which you can download for FREE in my Harvest Activity Bundle.
No 10 Pumpkin picking
Finally, number 10 on my list had to be the Pumpkin Pick. This is a relatively new activity to me, as I hadn’t realised it was so common in the UK. When I had my son I was delighted to discover that Cononsyth Farm, not five minutes from our home, was offering a pumpkin picking experience for the whole family. What better way to teach your toddler about harvest? Pick your own pumpkin right from the field and take it home to carve ready for Halloween!
We love to make a trip of our Pumpkin Pick and enjoy all the local vendors who attend the festival at Cononsyth Farm. Last year, we were also lucky enough to sample a new variety of berries the farmers had harvested called Honeyberries. So why not find out what’s happening in your local community? See if you can pick up a pumpkin from the local farm, instead of simply buying it at a supermarket.
Get ready to harvest!
So there you are. Ten fun-filled activities to teach your toddler about harvest. Are you ready to get started? What will you try first? I would love to know! Tag me @athomewithmrsblake on Instagram. You can find even more ideas and share your own in the AHWMB Community Group on Facebook.