To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn…
Around this time of year, that old Byrds song gets stuck in my head. And like so many of us living in the Northern hemisphere, I wonder how did the summer slip by so quickly? I am a huge fan of the shift into Autumn but it does bring on some bittersweet feelings. For most of us, we are shifting back into the everyday rhythms of our lives, our days become more structured and, instead of new life blooming, we start to witness the slow decay of our natural environment.
As we venture into the seasonal shift and make room for Autumn, there are many ways to explore the beauty of the season with our children. Some activities are already part of the rituals that we’ve fostered over time – think apple cider, pumpkins, and walks in crunchy leaves. But as we move into new territory with our own families, there is room to expand our Autumnal activity repertoire.
Here are 5 ways to appreciate Autumn with your little ones
And do note – the beauty of all of these suggestions is that you can start very simple for younger ones and expand on them as your children grow.
1. Learn about the Autumnal Equinox and Life Cycles
The hours of daylight are dwindling as we approach the Autumnal Equinox, and it all has to do with our Earth’s tilt as it rotates around the sun. While our little ones are too young to fully understand the intricacies of seasons, pointing out sunrises and sunsets are a great way to start. A good way to relate this to their lives, is explaining it through wake ups and bedtimes.
If you have a garden, or access to a garden, planting bulbs, pruning, and of course, raking leaves, are other great ways to help children learn more about the turn of seasons. If you’re planting, be sure to talk about exploring the resting phase of the Winter and the new growth in the Spring.
And of course, there’s that exciting activity of observing little critters running around, gearing up for the winter. Plenty of time can be spent observing squirrels search for nuts and looking out for squirrels’ nests. Or watching Monarch Butterflies searching for nectar in the last of the flowers, before heading south; and those amazing V formations of geese flying, of course.
2. Make Art with Nature
Using our environment to make art is an incredible way to appreciate and explore seasonal shifts.
Some Autumnal specific ideas might be using leaves for rubbings, decorating or carving autumnal fruit and vegetables, making dried apple rings – the list is endless. Here are some links to explore more ideas:
3. Go on a Sensory Walk
There is clear evidence to show that being in nature improves our health. It also helps us appreciate and respect our environment and encourage responsibility.
Find a spot close by or a short journey away from your home, to fully immerse yourselves in for a solid chunk of time. Think about talking to your child about each sense – what do you hear, smell, taste and feel? This might be the crunching of leaves, the smell and “taste” of crispness, the drone of cicadas, birds whistling, leaves rustling – really paint the picture. If your child has the vocabulary, have them paint the picture for you too.
Not only does this help children develop a sense of calm and attachment to our planet, this activity also helps with children’s aural and oral language development. And the beauty is that it’s beneficial from babyhood into adulthood.
And don’t forget to make a leaf pile to jump in for a full on sensory experience– make sure you get in on it too!
4. Enjoy Autumnal Harvests
This is the season to enjoy the bounty of our Earth! Going to a local farm and picking pumpkins and apples, is always an enjoyable fall outing. Of course cooking and baking stews and treats, with autumn harvests, is also a delicious activity.
Learning about (and celebrating) harvest festivals is another wonderful way to expand our knowledge of the season. Living in North America, we’re all well acquainted with Thanksgiving. However, every corner of the world has its own festival to celebrate this time of harvest. Some to explore are Sukkot in Israel, Onam and Pongal in India and the Olivaganado in Italy.
5. Get cozy!
Nothing says Autumn like coziness. Get out the thicker blankets, heat up some drinks, read some fall-themed books with your little ones, and soak in the warm cuddles.