Ten Great Educational Autumn Activities for Children
Autumn, also known as fall in American and Canada, is a season full of great opportunities for outdoor and indoor play and also for creative craft projects. The weather is mostly still warm enough to be able to get out and explore, enjoy nature and take in all the changes that are happening around us.
Although the sun may not shine as much and the temperature is starting to drop there are still many fun and interesting things to do outdoors in autumn and many, many more indoors including crafts and cooking.
Fun and interesting activities
1) Autumn collages – When you are out collect leaves, twigs, interesting stones, conkers, fallen bark and any other natural materials you see. Store this in a bag or box until you have a good, varied collection and then use them to create an autumn collage. This can be random, following a pattern or you could create a picture using the different materials: for example an autumn tree.
2) Explore and have fun – Visit a local park or woodland and explore. You could take photographs; try to identify animals, plants and trees: you can buy great guide books in most book shops or you could take photos and use the internet to figure out what each is once home. Puddles are great for splashing in and fallen leaves are fun to wade through or burrow into.
Cook with Children
3) Cook a meal together using only seasonal ingredients. Seasonal food is often cheaper and generally tastier than the same items grown outside of its natural season. Autumn is a season rich in available produce including apples, pears, elderberries, blackberries, carrots, cauliflower, onions and cabbage.
Nature Arts and Crafts
4) Create a nature diary – The idea of a nature diary can be varied greatly. You could create a record of one trip, of many trips to one place, a general diary or even start off one in autumn and carry it on throughout the year. The diary could include collected materials such as leaves and flowers, photographs, drawings, notes and written pieces about visits.
5) Flower and leaf pressing - This can be done using a specifically designed flower press or by using heavy books. If you are using books for pressing, place the flowers and leaves between sheets of paper to avoid staining or getting the books wet from any moisture present. Close the book and then place several more heavy books on top and leave them for around two weeks. Once the flowers are pressed and dry they can be used to decorate card, scrapbooks, nature diaries and many other craft projects.
Grow Plants and Food
6) Keep weather chart – Create a chart using a program such as Publisher or you could use a calendar or diary that has space to write in for each day. Record what the weather is like on each day. This is a nice way to show children how the weather gradually changes with the seasons and get them thinking about how changes in the weather and seasons affect them and the world around them.
7) Plant some autumn vegetables – It is possible to grow several vegetables in winter and there are various others that are planted in autumn to give them a head start when spring arrives. In the Uk, broad beans and peas can be sown between September and November. These will flower and fruit in spring and give an early crop. Garlic can be planted in the autumn along with spinach and some varieties of onion.
8) Plant bulbs – Autumn is the time to plant flowering bulbs for next spring. Bluebells, crocus’, tulips and daffodils are some examples of bulbs that can be bought easily in gardening centres, DIY shops and even some supermarkets and other shops. Pound shops often have a selection of bulbs as well as other gardening items. Bulbs can be grown in the ground or in pots and other containers and will grow and flower year after year.
Fun and Foraging with Kids
9) Festivals – Learn about and take part in any autumn festivals. Thanksgiving, Halloween and harvest are commonly celebrated festivals of autumn. You may be able to join in with local activities and organised events depending on what are running in your area but if not you can have your own celebration at home. Discuss with children why these festivals take place and what is behind certain customs. You can also cook foods to fit the occasion and do themed crafts or even have a themed party with friends and family. Some other festivals that occur in autumn are the Chinese festival of the autumn moon, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Mabon and Samhain.
10) Go foraging. Autumn is a time when many wild foods are ready for picking. Fruits such as blackberries, apples, wild plums, elderberries and rowanberries can be picked and eaten or used in a variety of ways. Blackberries and elderberries can be used with apples (picked or bought) to make delicious pies, crumbles and jams for example. Or you could have a go at making elderberry wine. Wild food and foraging guides can be bought online or in most bookshops. One good example that comes as a pocket sized book is Food for Free by Richard Mabey. The book details many examples of commonly found wild foods and information on where and when to find them and also includes some recipes to get you started.
© 2013 Claire