Early fall is a wonderful time to slow things down a bit after a busy summer – and before the holiday season begins.
But there are still plenty of wonderful things to do as a family during this fun change of seasons.
You can find plenty of things to make and do this time of year without spending a lot of time or money – and we’ve got some great ideas to spark your creativity!
Soon it will be time to rake leaves and pick the perfect pumpkin, but late summer and early fall are a great time to introduce your kids to the beauty of the changing seasons.
Apples are in abundance this time of year, and there’s so much you can do with them.
If you’ve got a free weekend, make it “apple-themed” by planning a trip to your local orchard to pick apples, or visit a farm stand so the kids can see the variety of early autumn produce.
Sample fresh apple cider and buy a few different kinds of apples to take home. Have the kids “taste test” different varieties and describe their texture and flavor to pick their favorite, then choose a favorite apple recipe to make together – but keep a few aside for some fun crafts!
Mom or Dad can cut an apple in half, and the kids can dip them in paint to stamp on paper. Try different shades of red or even green or yellow to show the variety of this amazing fruit!
Or scoop out the center of half an apple, fill with nut butter and dip in birdseed for an easy bird feeder. Just tie a string around the stem or simply leave in a dish on the railing of the deck. The kids will love watching the birds swoop in, and you can talk about the species living in your own backyard.
Don’t forget the story of the “Apple Star,” which can be found online. Just make sure to cut the apple in half horizontally to uncover the star shape in the middle!
Kids can also create apple crafts by gluing scraps of green paper to a tree trunk (drawn or cut out by Mom or Dad). Put apples in the tree by dipping a cotton swab in red paint, or make fingerprint apples with paint or a stamp pad.
There are lots of songs and stories about apples – you can research the legend of Johnny Appleseed or check out some books at your local library.
Some of our favorites are Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss, Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson (don’t forget to make some of your own with all those apples!), and Apples A to Z by Margaret McNamara (a great book for little ones that explains some of the science behind how apples grow).
While you’re outdoors watching the birds “flock” to your apple slice bird feeder, you’re sure to see plenty of squirrels digging around or other wildlife in your area preparing for the cold that is to come.
Kids love animal-themed activities, and it’s always best to learn with hands-on activities.
Owls, foxes, bears, and squirrels are all fun to study as they prepare for the change of seasons in different ways.
Make a paper plate owl that your child paints in autumn hues and add some cupcake liner eyes. The kids can even collect some of the leaves that have already begun to fall from the trees and use them as feathers for their owl creation!
Paper plates are also great for making animal masks out of tissue or construction paper scraps, paint, and buttons – or you can cut the eyes out so the kids can wear the mask themselves while putting on a show.
Make a fox or bear puppet out of a brown paper lunch sack and some scraps of paper, felt, or other craft materials you have on hand. A great technique for making “fur” is to spread a thick layer of paint on the bag and then let the kids drag the tines of a fork through. (Almost anything you have in the kitchen drawer can be used to make textures in paint!)
Kids can also paint with acorn caps by dipping them in paint and stamping them on paper or by rolling acorns on a piece of paper taped inside a rimmed cookie sheet. Make some paper squirrels to glue to your painted collage.
Older kids can learn about nocturnal animals like owls by checking out books or doing research online and then draw “day and night” pictures that recreate their habitats.
Or simply take a nature walk as a family and discuss all the different activity your kids see going on. How are the trees changing? What animals are most active and what are they doing?
Don’t forget to take a paper bag for each child so they can collect leaves, acorns, seed pods, pinecones, or other natural items. These can be used in a fall collage or as items to paint with. Try different techniques to see what abstract art they come up with!
Enjoy this beautiful change of seasons with your family. It’s still pleasant outside before the chill sets in for good, and it’s fun to take some time away before things get busier toward the end of the year.
What are some of your favorite activities, recipes, or crafts for kids in the early fall? Leave us your ideas!