Monday marks the fall equinox, one of two days during the year in which both the northern and southern hemispheres of our planet receive the same amount of sunlight (the other day is the vernal, or spring equinox.) The rest of the year the tilt of Earth’s axis makes for an uneven distribution of the sun’s rays, therefore giving us the seasons of summer and winter. Just a note: our seasons do not actually come from Earth being closer or farther away from the sun, which is a common misconception.)
Now that we have gotten the fun science bit out of the way, what does this have to do with our children? We believe fall is a great time to tune into the changing seasons and just enjoy time together. Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Get that yard work done.
Children – especially young children – love to help their parents. They want to be like their parents, so they take every possible opportunity to copy what you do. Take advantage of this developmental characteristic and teach them how to do basic yard work!
Will your 4-year-old be able to efficiently assist you in raking the leaves? That’s doubtful, but they can stay occupied, get some fresh air and exercise, and have a blast while you’re busy taking care of a necessary job. They certainly won’t mind helping you jump in a raked pile, either! Any last-minute weeding or harvesting that needs to be done in the garden? Invite your child along to learn and try it for themselves.
A note regarding tools: it is preferable to provide children with real, child-sized tools for all sorts of tasks, including yard work. The link below includes yard and garden tools from a Montessori materials company, but it is also possible to find similar items at local garden stores.
2. Head to the kitchen.
There are so many great flavors to savor throughout the fall. Why not cook and bake together why you try them all? Here are a few fun recipes:
Super simple acorn treats
Healthy baked spaghetti squash
Trail mix bites to take on that fall hike
Baked apple cider donut holes
Tasty pumpkin bread
Basic applesauce recipe
3. Be creative.
Art is a great idea any time of the year. Try these fun activities to enjoy being creative, fall-style.
- Lanterns – Collect several glass jars, some fall-colored tissue paper, wire, and either white glue or liquid starch. Cut the paper into small pieces. The pieces can be irregular shapes, but they should be roughly between 1” and 2” square. Water down the white glue or use the liquid starch as is. Paint a layer on the glass, sticking small pieces of paper to it as you go. Another layer of glue on top is a good idea. Once dry, use the wire to wrap around the lip of the jar and create a candle. Either a small tea light or battery-powered light can go inside for a fun evening walk.
- Nature art – Using found objects, create environmental art outside. Before you begin, discuss with you child that the nature of environmental art is not permanent so that they don’t feel disappointed if it blows or washes away. Consider arranging items like sticks, fallen leaves, dead flower petals, seeds, rocks, and whatever else you come across!
- Whip up a batch of this pumpkin pie playdough:
4. Make a scarecrow.
Whether you choose to display your scarecrow in the garden or use it as a seasonal decoration, your children will surely have a blast helping create it! Gather some old clothes, a bit of hay, and check out this video for ideas to get started.
5. Enjoy local produce.
Finding ways to purchase and eat local produce is a positive experience for you and your children in so many ways. A few of the perks:
- Produce grown closer to home is fresher and contains more nutrients.
- You help support small businesses in your community.
- Pick-your-own options are a fun activity to do on a nice day.
- Physically going to the farms gives children a concrete sense of where their food comes from.
- You’re likely to run into other families you know and/or meet other families with children.
Perhaps you already have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share that you pick up weekly. Maybe you love to go apple picking. Local farm stands are likely to have plenty of fresh greens available this time of year, and a variety of squash are either already abundant or will be soon. Options are plentiful!
We hope this list has given you some ideas to get started, although we would love to hear any more you might have. Enjoy your weekend!