by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™
Celebrate the Season of Autumn This is the time of year when we see visible shifts in nature. Have discussions with children and encourage them to look for things like changes in the colors of leaves. (If you live in Phoenix, Arizona like we do, that means driving to Northern Arizona for a day trip unless you want to wait until December to see pretty leaves in fall colors.) Collect leaves and use them to decorate your home.
Even in the Valley of the Sun, days get shorter, plants go to seed, and the temperatures do fall below 100°. There is a different scent in the air and our minds turn to thoughts of popcorn and apple cider instead of iced drinks and frozen snacks. Put a list on the refrigerator door and see how many signs of fall you can find. Younger children might be fascinated by watching ants, spiders and other bugs as they prepare for cooler weather. Use a magnifying glass to look at them. Find spider webs and spray them with water. Look for information on the web to help kids learn more about the critters they see. Education happens in all seasons
Jumping spiders made with pipe cleaners will keep kids busy and interested for quite a while. We’ve made them for years. Our kids and their friends would hide under tables, behind furniture, and around corners — just waiting for someone to come close so they could pull the string to make their spider jump. We had spiders jumping everywhere with plenty of giggles. Laughter is one of the best things to share with our children. Making their own spiders is also a terrific way to build self-esteem. They are so easy to make and complete instructions can be found with this link to a fall web page .
Spend some time creating fall crafts together. Fall crafts don’t need to be time consuming or require expensive materials. Most can be done with everyday things you have around the house. If you need a few supplies, dollar stores usually carry the items you might want to add. Crafting has some excellent benefits for children and families too. Time spent together is an opportunity for conversation — and especially for talking together without an agenda. You might even share things you did as a child to celebrate autumn. Making crafts without specific instructions, or by altering directions to suit your own ideas, is an experience in developing creativity. Creative children have fun, develop skills and usually feel good about themselves and their artistic abilities. The more opportunities they have to imagine ways to make their own things using everyday stuff, the more confidence they will have about constructing crafts and more on their own. It’s a very satisfying endeavor. (If you praise their work, make it specific: “I like the way you added the . . .” etc. Kids respond better to that than to generalities like “That’s so wonderful.” It also teaches them about what works well.)
Do you need ideas for fall activities? If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, childcare provider, or youth leader, there are many more fall activities and ideas on my website. You will also find two fall books I have written about celebrating autumn. One, Fall Fun for Families, includes more than eighty-four easy and inexpensive ideas, such as: crafts, storytelling, and ways to make fall a special family time. Autumn Activities has many of the same ideas, but they have been adapted for use in classrooms, or for groups of children. Both are full of fun and promote child development in a variety of ways.
Play today! Children learn best when they think they are just playing.