Dig out your jackets, dust off your welly boots and get ready for traditionally wetter, windier, cooler and muddier days – stomp in those puddles, play out in the rain, enjoy the wind in your face, smell the smoke from a bonfire and throw leaves in the air. Autumn is such a colourful season and represents a lot of change in the world around us and presents us with a vast array of learning opportunities – both inside and out!
When we think of autumn, we automatically think oranges and browns, pumpkins and apples, cinnamon and spice, leaves falling, bonfires, darker evenings, shorter days, cooler temperatures and lots more time spent inside getting cosy, however being outside at this time of year provides us with a great variety of learning opportunities and we should make the most of all that Mother Nature offers whist the weather allows. When we look outside, the change in colours of the leaves falling to the ground, the bare trees, the smell in the air, the farmers harvesting their crops, ripe fruits dropping from branches, earlier night-time and animals preparing to hibernate. The outdoors offers a lot to observe and explore….
Autumn nature collecting and observing
Grab a bucket and go nature collecting – collect conkers, pinecones, a selection of leaves that are all shapes and sizes, acorns, nuts and branches in fact, pretty much anything you can find that has fallen on the ground. Buckets are great for creating a collection and a perfect place for children to keep their treasures and when you get home, a tray or large board provides the perfect flat surface to lay out all your finds and learn about everything that’s been collected.
To observe seasonal changes in nature and the weather, seasons by Hannah Pang is a wonderful children’s book about the changing seasons. Children will love to follow the transformation through the seasons of six breathtaking landscapes from around the world!
Beautifully illustrated by Robin Clover, this lovely book includes simple facts about the wildlife and plants that are found in each location during the different seasons. Imaginative and engaging, the book blends poetry, non-fiction and art, with pages of different widths cleverly enabling children to see the same environments split into different seasons.
Fanny & Alexander’s inspiring children’s book The Nature of Play: a handbook of nature-based activities for all seasons encourages children and their families to embrace nature in play every day, whether they live in the city or the countryside, with nature-based crafts and play ideas for both indoors and outdoors. This book encourages slower-paced, joyful play and days spent wandering and wondering as the perfect childhood antidote to passive play and endless screen time.
One of our favourite autumn activities is collecting leaves and observing its array of beautiful colours. My girls love pressing their leaves and keeping them in their nature scrapbook for flowers and leaves. Add some learning to this activity by matching the leaves with colour tablets – a wonderful resource for looking closely at the colours of the season, examining and comparing the painted wooden tablets to find the closest match to each item.
When we were growing up, my sister and I would collect as many different types of leaf as possible then bring them home to make leaf rubbings with big thick wax crayons and leave collage artworks on white paper. We would then look up what trees the leaves had fallen from and write it next to each leaf and stick it to the wall for reference later. We often competed to see who could collect more leaves from different types of trees and leave the leaves to dry on the radiator and then crumple them between our fingers and sprinkle the residue on to shapes coloured in with glue to make pictures.
If you would like to deepen your child’s interest in nature and support Autumn learning opportunities, the botany cabinet expands vocabulary with regard to the names of the different leaf forms and is a great exercise to matching them to those in the natural environment.
Autumn arts and crafts
Autumn is the perfect time for arts and crafts, inspired by the stunning array of autumn colours and incorporating any natural materials gathered on nature walks. Use nature finds to create beautiful works with modelling clay or will felt to craft woodland creatures or paint to create 3D Autumn collages. Stockmar’s range of high quality, non-toxic art materials including modelling beeswax, crayons and paints are richly pigmented and designed to appeal to children’s senses with their warmth, ergonomic shapes and natural beeswax scent for vibrant and satisfying art and craft activities.
Autumn and Winter activities come rain or shine: seasonal crafts and games for children by Stefanie von Pfister is a wonderful book filled with ideas and activities for getting children to engage with nature and the natural world whatever the weather! Plan and enjoy seasonal nature-based outdoor and indoor crafts and activities with children in Autumn with this fantastic resource.
The apple season
Autumn is most definitely apple season and is a perfect time to explore this amazing fruit – whether it’s visiting the local markets and counting how many different varieties you can find, tasting all the different flavours and identifying the sour apples to the juiciest and sweetest and working out whether there is a link between an apple that looks ripe, sweet and juicy to how it tastes on the inside. You can also look at all the different parts of an apple from the skin and flesh to the seeds and core which then leads nicely on to the life cycle of the apple from seed right the way through to the physical fruit.
A great game for autumn is ‘Apple Bobbing’ which has been a firm favourite amongst families for generations. The game is played by filling a large tub or basin full of water and dropping in several apples. Because the apples are lighter than the water, they will obviously float – which presents another great learning opportunity and conversation starter. Players then attempt to pull an apple out of the water using only their teeth. It’s a fun game providing you don’t mind getting a little bit wet!
Pumpkins are another produce that we associate with autumn. Mainly because Halloween is an event that falls within this season, and pumpkins have long been associated with this American celebration and they too present some great opportunities for Autumn learning and exploring. Why not visit a local pumpkin farm and look at all the different types, sizes, textures and colours then pick one to bring home but if you don’t live near one, you can just visit the local supermarket.
Using a spoon or a blunt object, a child can hollow out the flesh and carve a spooky face, then pop in a small candle and they have created a homemade lantern.The flesh can be used to bake a traditional pumpkin pie and the seeds can either be dried out to be used for counting, sown next spring to grow your own pumpkins or cooked to make delicious and healthy snacks by firstly washing off the seeds and removing the stringy bits of flesh, drying them then spreading out over a flat baking tray. You can then add salt, ginger and cinnamon then bake in the oven. When they are cooked and cooled everyone can tuck in.
These are only a small selection of suggestions for autumn inspired activities – many have been passed on over generations and enjoyed over the many years. We hope you enjoy sharing them with your children!
Our special Autumn Collection of products offering fun ways to bring Autumnal inspiration to your play or home-school curriculum. This collection of the best educational toys, high quality learning materials, artist grade art and craft supplies and handmade unique wooden toys for the autumn season will help your child understand the changing of the seasons and the changing weather, and immerse themselves in play and learning inspired by everything that signifies the Autumn season.