From art projects to scavenger hunts, these outdoor activities will help kids have fun outside and learn a bit about the changing seasons.
1. Make Leaf Rubbings. It’s a classic activity that kids love. With your children, go out and collect fallen leaves. Back at your project area, have the kids place the leaves vein side up, cover with a thin sheet of white paper, and rub gently with the side of a crayon (peel the paper off first) or an oil pastel. The shape of the leaf will appear on their paper. For younger kids, you may want to use a glue stick to fix the leaves onto a bottom sheet of paper first, then cover with a top layer for rubbing.
2. Press Leaves. This is another classic activity and allows you and your children to enjoy autumn colors for months and years to come. One method is to pick dry leaves, place each between two layers of paper towel, then press each leaf “sandwich” inside a large coffee-table book, with several more books on top, for about two weeks. A faster approach is to place each leaf between two pieces of wax paper, cover with a towel or piece of thick paper, then press with a warm iron to seal the wax sheets together (a few minutes per side). Your kids may then cut around the leaf, leaving a margin of sealed wax paper.
3. Keep A Foliage Journal. Encourage your children to sit still or walk quietly for a while in a wooded area and observe closely, using all their senses, then write about what they notice, whether it’s foliage colors or the sounds and smells of the woods. Offer colored pencils or crayons so they can sketch or draw their impressions. Or take photos of the same favorite place in the neighborhood each week and compare them to see how the leaves change. Include poems, watercolor paintings, or other artwork in the journal if your child is so inclined.
4. Hunt for Treasures. Create your own scavenger hunt, with clues about different types, colors, and shapes of leaves that you know kids can find in your designated area. Depending on the group, you might use photos of leaves, names of trees, or pun-filled riddles. If planning time is at a minimum, keep this simple and play I Spy with a foliage theme.
5. Take a Final Spin for the Season. Before storing your children’s bicycles for winter, visit your favorite rail trails in autumn and see how the foliage changes them. Just remember jackets and scope out the options for hot chocolate if you don’t get ice cream weather. Here’s some advice, and a few recommended routes in the Northeast:
Fall Family Biking: 3 Tips, Each Illustrated by 3 Trips
6. Go for a Hike. Although your kids may think the goal is the mountain’s peak, any hike at this time of year is sure to provide plenty of chances to leaf-peep along the way. Try our recommendations throughout the AMC region:
8 Classic Fall Hikes and Rambles with Kids in the White Mountains
5 Great Fall Hikes and Rambles with Kids in the Berkshires
4 Nature-Filled Fall Hikes and Rambles with Kids in Connecticut
6 Fall Hikes and Rambles with Kids in the Hudson Valley and Catskills
6 Quick Fall Hikes and Rambles with Kids near Boston
Hiking through Yankee's "Top 25 Towns for Foliage"
Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman.
Great Kids, Great Outdoors is an Appalachian Mountain Club blog, written by Heather Stephenson.
Labels: activities, autumn, fall, foliage, Heather Stephenson