Enjoy these fun activities as you help your children — little ones through teens — celebrate autumn.
I grabbed washable paint, paintbrushes, pom-poms, craft feathers, pipe cleaners, yarn and a branch or two from outside. Then I set my 1- to 3-year-olds free to create! They loved decorating the tree branches.
Fun With Autumn Leaves
Each year, nature showers us with its gift of colorful leaves. My kids and I collect our favorite leaves and arrange them. Then using stems, pine needles and other flora, we make them into the shapes of animals such as hedgehogs, turkeys or squirrels.
An autumn collection
One of my family’s favorite autumn activities is creating a leaf collection. We lay a blank sheet of paper on top of each leaf and rub an unwrapped crayon over the paper to transfer the image. Other times we laminate the leaf or put it in a Ziploc bag. Then my son puts each sheet in a binder and researches the different species of trees, documenting where we found each one.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
I encourage my children to explore outside by giving each of them:
- an empty plastic jar
- a list of 10 items found in the woods (or beach, park, etc.), written in permanent marker on the side of the jar
- Black rock
- White rock
- Red rock
- Pine cones
- small leaves
- Large leaf twigs
- Pine needles
- Tree bark
Then I challenge my kids to fill their jars with the items on the list.
This activity has been such a hit with my family that we embark on nature scavenger hunts on a regular basis.
A Hands-on Fall Activity
As a fun fall activity for my 3-year-old, I filled a clear, plastic container with different colors of dried beans, colorful fall leaves, small plastic pumpkins, scraps of fabric and cinnamon sticks (for ages 3 and up, with adult supervision). I placed the bin on a tablecloth for easy cleanup and supervised as my daughter used her senses and fine motor skills to explore the textures and smells, sort the different types of beans and match the leaves of the same color.
— Brooke Kramb
Help children differentiate the fall and winter seasons by associating unique fragrances with each time of year. Christian recording artist Phil Joel and his wife, Heather, introduce autumn to their kids with scented candles and room spray in their Tennessee home.
"We have little holiday rules that we've set up. Sept. 15 is the official day we start decorating for fall," Heather says. "We get out our pumpkin decorations [and] autumn wreaths, and the pumpkin-scented spray can only be used starting on the 15th, not beforehand. It's a super-fun way to kick off the holidays."
"Once the Christmas decorations are up," Phil says, "we bring out the evergreen smells." Phil and Heather founded deliberateKids, a ministry to parents that offers fun ways to teach biblical concepts to children. Their 9-year-old daughter, Phynley, and 5-year-old son, Eden, have enjoyed this annual tradition that originally began in Heather's childhood.
— Andrea Gutierrez
A Friday Night Tradition
They were at an impasse: my tall, broad-shouldered husband and my small, doe-eyed daughter. Mark was determined that we, as a family, would go to every home football game in our small town. Charis, age 2, didn't like the crowds, noise or mascot, a 6-foot-tall bulldog.
I didn't care whether we went to the football games, but Mark was determined. He wanted Charis to experience crowds, noise and even a large, fake bulldog within the safety of her parents' arms. He didn't want her to be afraid.
After some discussion, Mark and I decided to turn Friday nights into a grand adventure. We began building up Friday nights as if they were the best thing since chocolate cake. We drove her slowly by the stadium on weekdays, saying, "Charis! That's where we'll go on Friday night!"
We bought her a blue and gold cheerleader outfit, complete with pom-poms. "Charis, you get to wear this on Friday night!"
We made popcorn at home and reminded her, "Our favorite time to eat popcorn is Friday night at the football game!"
Before long, she was just as excited about Friday nights as her daddy. As we drove past the stadium on our way to church, she bounced in her seat, clapped her hands and yelled, "Friday night ! Friday night !" At the store, as she was wheeled around in the shopping cart, she asked passersby, "Do you go to Friday night?"
Because we prepared her, Friday nights became one of her favorite adventures.
The following spring, as we passed the stadium, Charis pointed and said, "We go there on Friday night!"
"Yes, we do!" her daddy agreed.
After a moment, she said, "It hasn't been Friday night in a long, long time."
Perhaps next fall we'll work on the days of the week and sports seasons with her — starting with football.
— Renae Brumbaugh