School has started, the weather is soon to be cooler and the leaves will be falling. Weekends and evenings are once again ‘family’ time, time to spend with your kids in constructive play, taking advantage of the ever shortening daylight hours. Will you spend your time in front of the TV or will make some memories that your kids can pass on to the grandkids? Here are some ideas to make play time educational and fun.
Leaf rubbings: As the leaves start to turn and fall to the ground, the whole of the world begins to change. Or at least it seems so to very young children who may only vaguely remember the last autumn. Go on a walk in a wooded area, or just around the neighborhood and collect as many different kinds of leaves as you can find. Take them home and spend some time trying to identify the different kinds, either with a book (you can find many in your local library) or online. Try http://cas.psu.edu/docs/CASDEPT/Hort/LeafID/
These are just a few of the many sites you can find from educational institutions and state forestry organizations to help you identify different leaves with your kids.
After you get the leaves home and have looked and examined and labeled as much as you and the kids want to, get out some clean, white typing or printer paper, and some crayons with the paper off. Carefully place the leaf underneath the paper and using the long side of the crayon, not the end, and holding the paper in place, gently rub the crayon over the leaf, creating a ‘rubbing’. Do a couple different colors and different leaves on the same page to create a beautiful keepsake. Date it, sign it, frame it.
Kite Flying: Not just for the summer, kites really take off in the autumn winds. Pick a spot away from power lines and trees, and on a day where there is no rain and lightening expected. One can usually find kites to purchase at any toy store, and department stores in the spring and summer.
Pick a Plum: Or pick an apple, peach, nut…whatever strikes your families fancy. Quite often, you can find an orchard with fruit or nuts that has days when, for a fee, anyone can come and harvest. Sometimes you can find a potato farm or pumpkin patch that does the same thing. Picking out a pumpkin for a fall decoration or jack-o-lantern is a great treat for the little ones, and can be quite a momentous excursion. Look around your area and see what the various prices are. Barring that, if you have a park or such in the area that has hickory or black walnut trees, go beat the squirrels to the treats. It is fabulous fun to pick them up and while they are hard to open, there is nothing like eating the fruits of your own labor, and they are great to cook with.
Blow some bubbles: Just getting out with your kids for fifteen minutes in the blustery wind can be a treat with some bubbles. The wind does the work with the wand held up and even the youngest of your younglings can get the satisfaction of watching the bubbles take off into the air.
Whatever you do with your kids, try to get outside and develop that ever decreasing appreciation for the natural world that is so lacking in our schools and television programs. Enjoy our planet and all the wonders that you can find, no matter what the season.