Autumn is a magical season and one of my favourites. After the warm sunshine and long days of summer, Mother Nature sends us the glorious colours of autumn leaves, hanging valley mists and the crisp clear air of autumn to ease us into winter. It feels like a treat to reach for those warm woolly jumpers and hats once again so that we can continue to get outside to play, explore and learn.
As plants and trees retreat into winter mode they offer us an abundance of natural treasures from falling leaves to catch in the wind; multi-coloured leaves to identify and collect; acorns, pine cones and conkers for outdoor maths and games; and anything and everything that you can find for outdoor art creations.
The change in weather often brings some wind and rain which in turn provide an endless supply of twigs and sticks for imaginary games and muddy puddles for splashing in and jumping over. As with every season, the trick is to embrace each one fully and get involved in all the positive aspects they bring with them.
Autumn leaves are a natural wonder and take us back to our own childhood. I don’t think it matters how old you are, who can resist running through a pile of crunchy leaves?! With their variety of colours, textures, sounds and smells they stimulate all of our senses. And there’s plenty of ways to make them educational too. Here’s just a few ideas to get excited about autumn leaves:
1. If you’re out on a windy day, see who can catch the most leaves. Or simply catch a leaf at all! It’s good luck to catch one and an easy way to keep everyone active and engaged.
Autumn leaves are a natural wonder and take us back to our own childhood.
2. Make a great big leaf pile and run through it, jump into it, roll around in it, have a leaf fight, hide in it, scatter the leaves skywards … you get the idea!
3. Collect lots of leaves and then spread them out neatly in lines to make your own maze / labyrinth. A rake may be helpful (and fun) to gather your pile of leaves to get started.
4. Go on a leaf hunt. Search for colours and/or shapes. Make it a competition to get the kids running around. For the older kids, add another educational element to it and try to match the leaf to the tree it came from. Extra points if you know the name of the tree!
5. Leaves and sticks combine to make the best dens, nests and fairy houses of all shapes and sizes.
Children are naturally creative, pair it with their imagination and set them off on an expedition to collect some natural treasures to use for outdoor arts and crafts. Crafting always involves an element of focus and dexterity so you can be happy in the knowledge that there's plenty of learning going on amidst all the fun.
Children are naturally creative, pair it with their imagination and set them off on an expedition.
1. Collect a variety of treasures to make a collage e.g. leaves, feathers, twigs, acorns, seeds, grass. Keep it representative (use the items to draw a house etc) or go abstract and watch what happens!
2. Take paper and crayons with you and make a bark rubbing on all the different trees you come across. Compare and contrast all the different marks and patterns you find. Leaf rubbing is also great fun and easier for little hands.
3. Weave some twigs into a circle and add leaves to create a leaf wreath or colour wheel.
4. Create your own land art. Can you arrange the leaves to make a flower, snake, dragon or hedgehog? Or create a photo frame with sticks and then use other woodland materials to create a picture inside the frame. Make your own mini tree with sticks and leaves.
5. Collect a pile of acorns and paint them different colours. Sparkly paints or glitter add another dimension here! Make a necklace, put them in a bowl for decoration, use them in your collage, or leave them as a gift outside your fairy door.
Games are a brilliant way to combine being active with being in nature. Let Autumn give your outdoor games a new lease of life.
1. Conkers is a classic autumn game. People will often have their favourite local horse chestnut tree that provides the most conkers. It can be as much fun finding the seeds, discovering when they fall, when the casing cracks and when the conkers are at their best as it is playing the game.
Games are a brilliant way to combine being active with being in nature.
2. Autumn is made for Scavenger Hunts as the woods are FULL of treasure!
You can make a scavenger hunt up on the hoof by simply challenging your kids to collect 5-10 different types or colours of leaves. Or write up a tick list to take with you, you could include an acorn, a winged seed, a type of leaf common to where you walk, an autumn fruit, mushrooms or toadstools, a dewy spider’s web etc.
3. Create your own mini-olympics in your local woods. It needn’t be more complicated than jumping over a stream, balancing along a log, jumping up to reach a branch and running from one tree to another.
4. Incorporate autumn into your wide games by making a den for the jail in Capture the Flag or by using a line of leaves to mark out your safety zone.
5. Sycamore seeds make great helicopters, challenge everyone to see who can fly theirs the highest or furthest.
Sarah is an expert with outdoor fun and she and her husband are the owners of the amazing Wee Adventures outdoor kids adventure company. Find out more in their directory listing here >>>
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