Falling Leaves of Autumn


Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. Here in Minnesota, we can see red maple leaves, yellow aspen, and brown oaks. When we lived in Tokyo, we witnessed such beautiful autumn leaves. Here’s a photo I took in Japan as the leaves started to change colors. People celebrate the season outside by enjoying picnics, taking hikes, and taking lots of pictures!

Photo by Kathleen Kampa, 2020, Showa Kinen Park

My Kindergarten students delighted in gathering the fallen leaves. Every morning they brought a collection of leaves to school. We sang many songs about autumn leaves, but this one is my favorite. I especially love the incredible instrumentation that Andre DiMuzio created to accompany this.

It’s fun to teach this song with a xylophone or glockenspiel. You can play it by starting at the shortest bar (C) (do), and going step by step to the longest bar. If you turn the instrument on its side with the shortest bar on top, it’s easy to see and hear the melody descending.

Falling Leaves Adapted by Kathy Kampa

Down, down, down, down, the leaves are falling to the ground. 

    do       ti        la       sol             fa              mi        re        do


Red, yellow, orange, and brown, the leaves are falling to the ground. 

  do       ti        la         sol             fa              mi        re        do


My students will sing this song over and over again. On the recording, the last time just slows down to signal the end of the song.

When I arranged this song, the children first sing the words to build their understanding of autumn. I also created a section where children can create their own movements. It’s important to give children opportunities to express themselves freely. They can spin fast or slow. They can pretend to blow in the wind.

Children love dancing with lightweight scarves. The color doesn’t seem to matter. They just love the way the scarves float so lightly. As students sing, they float their scarves back and forth (crossing their midline) moving their bodies lower and lower, just like the music. When they sing “Whoosh!” they scoop up the scarves and start again.

My students laugh when the scarf lands on their arm, their head, their shoulder . . . .

Here’s a video of my young learners.

I use small, lightweight hemmed scarves like these. Search for “hemmed scarves” or “juggling scarves.” Check the reviews. I like mine! Young children can practice naming the color, too.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 16.55.57

Check out my Pinterest board for more autumn activities. This song is available on my album “Jump Jump Everyone.” For more kid-tested music and movement activities, check out my music on iTunes.

Jump Jump Everyone
Kathy has produced two music CDs for very young learners, Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays and Jump Jump Everyone, which build English language skills through movement while nurturing creativity and imagination! Grown and loved by real kids!

Kathy Kampa is a teacher, author, and teacher-trainer who specializes in working with young learners. As a PYP (Primary Years Program) teacher in Tokyo, Japan, she uses a globally-minded and inquiry-based approach to teaching through which students develop 21st century skills. She also supports the development of English language skills by creating songs, chants, and TPR/movement activities targeted to young learners’ needs.

Kathy and her husband Charles Vilina are also co-authors of Magic TimeEverybody Up, the ELTon award-winning course Oxford Discover, and Beehive, all published by Oxford University Press.


Pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns!

Kids trick or treat on Halloween night.

Halloween is right around the corner! Children love dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and participating in all the wonderful Halloween activities teachers prepare in the classroom.

Halloween is filled with magical changes. Children put on costumes, and “change into” a princess, Spiderman, a witch, a ghost, or a character from their favorite Disney movie. We see the magical change of pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.  

The concept of change is one of the “big ideas” we teach young learners. Babies grow and change. Bean seeds planted in the soil in little paper cups grow into bean plants. Caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies. Small pumpkins grow into big pumpkins and pumpkins turn into jack-o-lanterns!

Halloween is also a perfect time to teach new English words and the concept of change.  

The song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” is a fun Halloween song to do! The children experience change:

-from a pumpkin to a jack-o-lantern

-from small to big

-from a quiet voice to a loud voice

-from tiny, high voice to big, low voice

-from sitting to standing

To begin, make two paper pumpkins — a small one and a large one. Each of the pumpkins should have two sides — one plain side, and one side with a face (jack-o-lantern).  This pattern by Shala on Pinterest is helpful. Show the students the plain side of the “small” pumpkin and say “pumpkin.” Then turn it around and say “jack-o-lantern.”  Once students know these two words, put them into this simple chant:

Jack-o-Lantern Chant by Kathleen Kampa

Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Happy Halloween!

Now you’re ready to expand upon the language and sing the song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin.”

Use this slide show to teach the song. The lyrics and ideas for movements are below:

Pumpkin, Pumpkin
(words adapted by Kathleen Kampa, music: traditional)

(Sit with students in a circle. Sing quietly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin small and fat,
(With fingers, make the shape of a small pumpkin.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Roll hands. Spread fingers out wide.)

Just like that!
(Tap two fingers on the palm of your hand as you say each word.)

(Sing the verse again!)

Spoken: Grow and grow and grow and grow
and grow and grow and grow and GROW!
(Slowly stand up while making a big pumpkin shape. Get louder!)

(Sing loudly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin big and fat,
(While standing, make the shape of a big pumpkin with your whole body.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Turn around. Jump into a big shape.)

(Clap and stamp on each word.)

(Sing the verse again!

Here’s a video of my Japanese students singing this song. 

Thanks to my dear friend Setsuko Toyama for creating this pdf of the song lyrics. 

“Pumpkin, Pumpkin” is one of many holiday songs featured on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays CD available on iTunes and Apple Music. Four more Halloween songs are featured, so check out recent the blog posts.

Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays

ms kampa 12-8

I have numerous activities saved on my Halloween Pinterest board.

Thanks to my dear friend Setsuko Toyama for creating this pdf of the song lyrics. 

Let me know how your children enjoy “Pumpkin, Pumpkin.”  Happy Teaching!


Kathy Kampa is a passionate educator of young learners. She seeks to nurture children’s imaginations and spark creativity through fun and engaging activities. Kathy believes that music and movement should be a part of every young child’s learning.

Kathy is the co-author of Magic Time, Everybody Up, Oxford Discover (ELTon winner), and Beehive (published by Oxford University Press). She has been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for over 30 years. Kathy has composed educational music for Tokyo Shoseki and recorded songs for Learning World. She is active as a teacher trainer, inspiring teachers around the world. Kathy and her husband have currently returned to her home state of Minnesota in the US.

If you’re interested in more of Kathy’s work, check out her YouTube channel at Kathy Kampa and subscribe to this blog at magictimekids.com. Her second album, Jump Jump Everyone, is available on iTunes and Apple Music.

Just in case you didn’t find enough goodies here, check out this video of Kathy teaching her Japanese students the song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” without the recording. Enjoy!