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Seasonal changes

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By Lorraine Frankishearly years tutor and NVQ assessor.

Introduce the children to the concept of past and present through events that they are familiar with, such as the changing seasons

children in snow

Remembering the seasons

Very young children’s understanding of the concept of time is limited, but most three- and four-year-olds will be able to recall some part of what has happened in their past. The seasons will have a particular impact on them and activities linked to seasonal changes will encourage them to consider the past and present. Seasonal changes in nature provide constant opportunities for young children to explore their environment in different ways at different times. They may remember gathering fallen fruit from a tree or flying a kite on a windy day. Making a snowman after a snowfall will also have made an impression on them. The richness of each season can prompt observation and discussion, as green shoots appear in the ground and on trees, or the sky becomes darker and the air cooler.

Suggested resources

Access to a safe outdoor area with a garden can provide a wealth of material, however, if this is not available then, with parental permission, take the children on regular walks to a nearby park or garden; camera to take photographs at different times of the year; natural objects to help the children recall the past, for example a bucket of seashells will encourage them to remember and discuss a trip to the beach.

1 Old and new

Go outdoors to look for old and new natural objects

Physical Development

Using Equipment and Materials

Development matters: engage in activities requiring hand-eye coordination (30-50 months); practise some appropriate safety measures (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: handle tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.

What you need

Group size: eight children. Safe, outdoor area; small box or tray; old and new natural objects.

What to do

With parental permission, and following a risk assessment, take the children to a safe, outdoor area to hunt for old and new natural objects.

Allow plenty of time for the children to find, and look carefully at, the different objects. Explore the found objects together, discuss each one and help the children to identify and compare which are the oldest and newest. For example, a pebble will be older than a flower, or a twig will be older than a leaf.


Work with one or two children at a time and explain to them which objects are old and which are new.


Take some fresh flowers indoors and encourage the children to observe them over a few days as they start to wilt.

Birth to 36 months

Place a selection of natural objects, such as pebbles, shells and fir cones in an area where the children can find them easily.

Cross-curricular links

  • KUW – observe, find out about and identify features in the place they live and and the natural world.
  • CD – respond in a variety of ways to what they see, hear, smell, touch and feel.

2 What to wear

Play a game identifying clothes worn in different seasons

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy

Numbers as Labels and for Counting

Development matters: recognise groups with one, two or three objects (30-50 months); know that numbers identify how many objects are in a set (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: use developing mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems.

What you need

Group size: four children. Variety of clothing such as boots, sandals, scarves, gloves, sun-hats, sun-glasses, shorts, swimsuits, cardigans and so on.

What to do

Look at each item together and talk about at what time of year you might wear this item of clothing. Compare the clothes to what the children are wearing today. Ask questions such as ‘Do you need to wear a warm scarf today?’ or ‘When did you wear a sun-hat?’ and so on.

Help the children to sort the clothes into groups by ordering them into the four seasons. Count how many items are in each group. Which group has the most clothes?


Work with two or three children at a time and let them sort fewer items of clothing into groups.


Invite the children to make a display of clothes for different seasons. Help them to search on the internet for images of clothes and print them off. Alternatively, cut out pictures from mail-order catalogues.

Birth to 36 months

Look together at photographs of the children. Talk about what they are wearing in the photographs and when they might have been taken.

Cross-curricular links

  • PSED – continue to be interested, excited and motivated to learn.
  • KUW – look closely at similarities, patterns and change.

3 Seasons mobile

Talk about past memories using a mobile with seasonal pictures

Communication, Language and Literacy

Language for Thinking

Development matters: use language as a powerful means of widening contacts, sharing feelings, experiences and thoughts (22-36 months); begin to make patterns in their experience through linking cause and effect, sequencing, ordering and grouping (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: use language to imagine and recreate roles and experiences.

What you need

Group size: four children. ‘Seasons mobile’ activity sheet (back of A2 ‘Yesterday’ poster); small hoop; string; child scissors; paper clips.

What to do

Copy the activity sheet, cut out the pictures and laminate them. Place the pictures on a table and invite the children to talk about the different seasons. Help them to arrange the pictures in a time line.

Cut varying pieces of string, approximately five to 15cm. Attach the lengths of string to the pictures. Tie the string to the hoop, ordering the pictures in time sequence.

Attach three longer pieces of string to the hoop and join these together with one piece of string so that the hoop can be suspended from the ceiling. Hang the hoop so that the children can see the pictures.

Gently spin the hoop as you discuss the pictures together.

Home links

  • Invite parents to provide clothes or photographs for the activities.

Further idea

  • Visit the BBC website and look at photographs taken over the week to note the changes.


Arrange the pictures at child height on a cupboard or wall so the children can see them easily.


Challenge the children to arrange the pictures in order of season, without prompting.

Birth to 36 months

Copy the activity sheet at a larger size, cut out the pictures and laminate them. Hole-punch the pictures and put them in a ring binder to create a ‘Seasons’ book for the children to enjoy.

Cross-curricular links

  • PSRN – use developing mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems.
  • CD – explore colour, texture, shape, form and space in two or three dimensions.