The first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere (also called autumnal equinox) is around September 22/23. In the Southern Hemisphere the first day of autumn is around March 21/22. Try this theme day when the weather changes and have some family fun together learning about this season.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Discuss with your children about autumn around the world. Discuss how countries in the southern hemisphere have their autumn while the northern hemisphere has spring. When do you have autumn?
Try to find “Autumn Almanac” by the Kinks or “Forever Autumn” by Moody Blues on your favourite music provider for some autumn tunes.
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “autumn coloring pages” or print out my Leaves of Autumn Coloring Page.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or on a piece of paper to glue in your scrapbook: What is your favourite thing about autumn? What does autumn look like around your neighbourhood? How is autumn different from the other seasons? What does autumn look like? What does autumn smell like? What does autumn feel like?
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story that takes place in the autumn.
Print out one of my Autumn Word Searches:
Check here for the Answer Keys:
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books on or about autumn and fall.
Go to the library with your child to find some books about the season of autumn.
Go to the library on your own to find books about autumn from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “autumn” under children’s books). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try some of these nonfiction/learning titles if you can find them:
· The Nature and Science of Autumn, by Jane Burton and Kim Taylor, Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1999 – This learning book would be good for older kids as it has more text and scientific vocabulary with lots of photographs. It looks at the changing leaves, seeds and berries, spores, storms, mist and fog, salmon, and migration among other things.
· When autumn Comes, by Robert Maass, Henry Holt and Company, 1990 – Using succinct text and photographs this book captures many elements of autumn.
· Why do Leaves Change Color?, by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski, Harper Collins Publishers, 1994—This Stage 2 book in the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out series focuses on trees and leaves in the autumn in easy to understand language while still talking about scientific things like Chlorophyll and other pigments.
Here are some picture books that look at autumn:
· Every Autumn Comes the Bear, by Jim Arnos, G.P. Putnam’s sons, 1993 – beautiful watercolours as it examines what a bear does before winter.
· Fall Is Not Easy, written and illustrated by Marty Kelley, Zino Press, 1998 – This cute rhyming story has a tree narrating why autumn is the hardest of all the seasons for him (and you’ll be surprised to see why!).
· I Know It’s Autumn, by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, Harper Collins Publishers, 2004 – This rhyming picture book shows many fun things about autumn.
· Lily and Trooper’s Fall, by Jung-Hee Spetter, Front Street Lemniscaat, 1999 – This picture book has delightful bright paintings of a girl, Lily, and her dog, Trooper, as they have fun on an autumn day.
· Red Are the apples, by Marc Harshman and Cheryl Ryan and illustrated by Wade Zahares, Voyager Books, 2001—Colors are highlighted in this book about the bounty found in an autumn garden.
· Who Loves the Fall?, by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Judy Stead, Albert Whitman & Company, 2007 – The bright illustrations and the simple rhyming text in this book capture the many delights of autumn.
Here is a great poetry book for Autumn:
· Autumn: An alphabet Acrostic, by Steven Schnur and illustrated by Leslie Evans, Clarion Books, 1997 – This collection has 26 acrostic poems each about an autumn word that starts with each letter of the alphabet like acorn, barn, corn and dark...
Materials: A paper plate, fake craft leaves OR real leaves OR coloured paper cut into leaf shapes, white glue, child-safe scissors, cloth for sticky fingers
Step 1: Cut out a large hole in the center of the paper plate for your child.
Step 2: Show your child how to use the white glue to attach either fake leaves (from a craft store or cut out of paper) or real leaves.
Step 3: Let it dry and then hang to display.
ERASER STAMP LEAVES:
Materials: Paper to paint on, a pencil with an eraser on the end, paints in various Fall colours (orange, red, yellow and brown), markers, waxed paper, damp cloth for dirty fingers, newspaper or plastic for covering the table, old t-shirts or art smocks .
Step 1: Using markers, have your child draw a tree trunk with branches and grass on the ground.
Step 2: Pour a little bit of each colour of paint onto waxed paper.
Step 3: Show your child how to dab the end of the pencil (eraser end) into the pant and then press it onto the picture of the tree trunk and branches. The dabs of paint will be the leaves.
Step 4: Let the picture dry and then display or glue into your Family Theme Days Scrapbook.
Materials: Brown paper lunch bag, old newspaper or magazines to crumple up, markers, coloured paper, child-safe scissors, twist tie from a grocery store, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Have your child pick out the colours he/she wants to use for scarecrows eyes, cheeks, nose and hair.
Step 2: Help your child draw and cut out two coloured circles for the eyes, one triangle for the nose, two coloured circles for the cheeks, and strips of coloured paper for the scarecrows hair.
Step 3: Flatten the brown paper bag onto a table so it is easy to glue on the scarecrows face. Have your child glue on two eyes, the triangle nose and two cheeks.
Step 4: Using a markers have your child draw a dotted line to represent stitches for the scarecrow’s mouth (connecting the two cheeks).
Step 5: Carefully open the paper bag and stuff it with crumpled pieces of newspaper or magazines.
Step 6: Gather the top of the bag together and twist a bit, and then wrap a twist tie from the grocery store around to seal the bag.
Step 7: Glue the strips of paper on the paper bag head for hair.
FUN WITH LEAVES:
While going on a nature walk (like the one mentioned in Learning Activities below) gather leaves in a bucket or bag to use for some of these easy crafts.
A: LEAF CRAYON RUBBINGS:
Materials: Gathered leaves, white paper, crayons
Step 1: Lay the paper on top of various leaves and rub with different coloured crayons (using the side of a crayon works best).
Step 2: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
B: LEAF COLLAGE:
Materials: Gathered leaves, white or coloured paper, white glue, waxed paper (optional)
Step 1: Use white glue to attach various leaves to the paper in any decorative way.
Step 2: Let it dry before displaying.
Optional: Lay a sheet of waxed paper over the picture while it is drying and lay some heavy books on top to flatten the leaves as they dry.
C: LEAF ART:
Materials: Gathered leaves, white or coloured paper, white glue, markers
Step 1: Use white glue to attach various leaves to the paper as the body of people or animals, or use as hair etc.
Step 2: Using markers draw additional details to show what the leaf people look like, or what animals they are.
Step 3: Let it dry before displaying.
D: LEAF STAMPS:
Materials: Gathered leaves, white paper, paints, paint brushes, waxed paper, damp cloth for dirty fingers, newspaper or plastic for covering the table, old t-shirts or art smocks , extra paper.
Step 1: Pour some paint onto the waxed paper.
Step 2: Dip the paintbrush in the paint and paint one side of a leaf.
Step 3: Press the painted leaf onto a scrap piece of paper to get rid of excess paint.
Step 4: Press the leaf on a new sheet of paper carefully pressing down all over to make a leaf print.
Step 5: Let it dry before displaying or gluing in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
The easiest snack would be an apple or pear, two fruits that are harvested in the autumn.
Bake some apple or pear muffins (look online for some recipes or check in your favourite cookbook).
Make some caramel apples for a sticky treat (check online for a recipe).
Enjoy a warm cup of apple cider (juice) together. We tried this recipe for Caramel Apple Cider using apple juice instead of cider and it was delicious: http://jas.familyfun.go.com/recipefinder/display?id=50018
Nuts are harvested in autumn as well, snack on your family’s favourite.
Cinnamon Toast Leaves:
Ingredients: Slices of whole wheat bread, spreadable butter or margarine, white or brown sugar and cinnamon
Step 1: Combine ¼ cup of sugar with 1 tsp of cinnamon in a small bowl.
Step 2: Using a leaf shaped cookie-cutter or just a knife (adult only) cut each slice of bread into a leaf shape and place on a cookie sheet.
Step 2: Spread each leaf shape with butter or margarine.
Step 3: Sprinkle each piece of bread with cinnamon sugar blend.
Step 4: Put cookie sheet into oven and broil for 2 minutes or less.
NOTE: You can also toast the bread in a toaster first before cutting into leaf shapes and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar.
Autumn Vegetable Soup: Make some homemade soup by cooking chopped autumn vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini...) in vegetable or chicken broth, add your favourite herbs and rice or pasta for a heartier treat, OR look online or in your favourite cookbook for a soup recipe.
Serve up a hearty stew either all vegetables or with beef. Look online or in your favourite cook book for a recipe.
Apple pie made of freshly harvested apples is always a delicious autumn treat.
AUTUMN NATURE WALK:
Go for a family walk around the block or head elsewhere to explore nature at a State or Provincial Park. Print out my Autumn Nature Walk Chart to record what you see, hear, smell, touch/feel while out exploring. Gather some leaves in a bucket or bag to take home for some easy crafts (above).
IDENTIFY YOUR LEAVES:
After collecting leaves on your nature walk look in a nature book from the library (like Autumn Leaves, by Ken Robbins, Scholastic Press, 1998) or online (try a site like this one: http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm) to try to identify the types of trees the leaves came from.
Learn about the Autumn equinox on this website - http://www.world-builders.org/lessons/less/les1/seasons.html
Find out why leaves change color in the autumn by looking at one of these three sites:
Q: What do trees like to drink?
A: Root Beer.
Q: What did one tree say to another?
A: Leaf me alone.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows that take place in autumn or are about the seasons.
Rake the leaves in your yard together into a big pile and then jump in them for some autumn fun. Then rake them back up again, of course.
The moon appears larger in the sky in the autumn due to the position of the earth. For something different, bundle up when the sky darkens for a family walk at night.
· There are many harvest festivals and pumpkin festivals at this time of year. Check out your community paper to see what farms, pumpkin patches or orchards are offering up for fun this autumn.
· Visit a corn maze.
· Find a farm that hosts hay rides.
· Go to your local farmers market to enjoy the fall harvest.
Scarecrows are often seen in autumn, like this one from Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, California
Photo: C Wright
Fall Leaf Wreaths
Eraser Stamp Leaves:
The bottom one was entitled “Picture of a Sad Tree”
by my son (aged 3)
Paper Bag Scarecrow Head
Leaf Crayon Rubbings
Leaf Cinnamon Toast