CHS Blog

Fall Activities for You and Your Child

Fall Activities for You and Your Child
Posted on November 4, 2016 by CHS

Fall offers a rich array of colors, textures, smells, and sights for both you and your child to explore. Engaging in fun and simple activities with your child provides the opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship, help your child  learn, and simply enjoy spending time together. The following are fun and inexpensive ideas for how you can explore the fall season with your child.

Crafts and Activities

Working on crafts with your child is an opportunity to develop creativity, confidence, and great conversations. Make sure you have everything you need ready to go and allow plenty of time to complete projects. Many craft and activity supplies are easily found at dollar stores, but make sure the items you purchase are non-toxic. When choosing to do one of the activities or crafts below, consider your child’s ability to understand and safely complete the task.

  • Nature Walk: This activity is appropriate for all ages. Invite your child to go for a walk in the evening, or on a Saturday morning. As you walk, ask your child questions that will draw her attention to nature and start conversations. For example, “What do you think we will see outside?” Bring along a small bucket or bag to collect nature items your child finds on the ground such as leaves, twigs, stones, flower petals, or pinecones.
     
  • Creating and Exploring Nature Collections: This activity is appropriate for toddlers and up. Save a cardboard box, or an egg container, that you and your child can decorate using crayons, markers, or stickers. You can also use an old tote or tool box. Use this box as place to store nature items you find on your walks. On days that you cannot go for a walk, you and your child can re-visit memories of what you have found and explore your nature treasures. You can fill a clear plastic container or bottle with water and use it like a magnifying glass so your child can really see the details of items. Ask your child if she would like to draw pictures of what she sees, or place paper on top of nature items and gently rub a pencil, or the side of a crayon, over the paper to see imprints of different textures.
     
  • Spider Web Fun: Children can usually spot spiders outside, and during this time of the year many people may have them out as decorations for Halloween. Here are a couple of ways to explore spider webs with children:
     
    • Cotton Webs: This activity is appropriate for all ages, although infants should be closely supervised. Gather some plain cotton balls. You and your child can explore them and gently pull them apart to create an appearance of webs. You can hang them up as decoration, or glue them to paper.
       
    • Painting Webs: This activity is appropriate for all ages, although infants should be closely supervised. Children can paint spider webs on black construction paper with homemade edible paint. To make the paint you will need: 2 cups of cornstarch, 1 cup of cold water, and 4.5 cups of boiling water. Mix the cornstarch with the cold water and stir it. Pour in the boiling water, making sure you stir between each cup. Continue to stir until the mixture melts and begins to have a smooth pudding-like consistency. Allow it to cool before use. For spider webs you can leave the paint white, or you can stir in food coloring before it cools. Another variation of this is to place black paper in the bottom of a box, dip a golf ball in white paint, drop the ball in the box, and allow your child to move the box to create web-like lines with the ball. If you prefer not to use paint, your child can also use a white crayon or chalk to draw spider webs.
       
  • Paper Plate Masks: This project is appropriate for ages three and up. You will need paper plates, yarn, scissors (for adult use), crayons, markers, and stickers. As you prepare the materials ask your child what kind of mask she wants to make to wear on her face and how she will make it. Having conversations like this with your child gives her the opportunity to set a goal for herself and consider the steps she will need to take in order to achieve it. Cut two eye holes just above the center of the plate, and cut two slits on the sides where you will tie the yarn to make a head strap. Invite your child to create her mask, and join her by making one of your own. Keep the conversation going while you work. When you are done, cut two pieces of yarn and tie one end to each slit in the plate. Then ask your child to hold it against her face while you tie a bow in the back. Now you can play!
     
  • Leaf Art: This activity is appropriate for ages three and up. You will need coffee filters, disposable plastic liquid/eye droppers, food coloring, small bowls (or a plastic ice tray), newspaper, cold water, and scissors (for adult use). Cut a few coffee filters into leaf shapes. Spread newspaper down on a table to keep things clean. In each bowl, put a drop or two of food coloring and add water. Place the filters, bowls of colored water, and plastic droppers on the table. Encourage your child to use the dropper to suck up colored water and drop it on the filters. You will both enjoy watching the colors expand and mix across the filters. This is a wonderful activity for developing eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, creativity, and science concepts. Once these are dry you can hang them in the window to see how they look with sunlight coming through them.
     
  • Leaf Dance: This is appropriate for ages two and up. You will need music and crêpe paper streamers (from any party store). You can also use scarves instead of streamers. Talk to your child about how leaves fall down from the trees and get blown by the wind. Give your child a streamer or scarf and take one for yourself. Ask your child to join you in dancing like a leaf that is being blown by the wind. Play music to help inspire dance movements. Choose music without words so your child can focus on the way the instruments sound. You can click on the following links to listen to some classical music.
     
  • Growing Corn: This is appropriate for ages three and up. You will need sealable plastic sandwich bags, cotton balls, popcorn kernels (un-popped), water, and a black marker. This is an opportunity for you and your child to watch something grow over time and have conversations about how things grow. To do this activity, moisten a cotton ball with water, drop it into a baggie, drop in a couple of popcorn kernels, and seal the baggie. The cotton ball should not be dripping water. If it gets too wet, ask your child to squeeze out the extra water. Use the marker to write the date and time on the baggie, and attach it to a window that gets some sun. Encourage your child to check on it each day and maybe even keep a little journal where you can write down observations. Click here for more ideas about how kids can learn from growing things.
     
  • Sensory Fun: This is appropriate for all ages, although infants and toddlers will require close supervision. You will need a large dish tub, plastic tote, plastic tablecloth, or newspapers to make clean up easy. Purchase some fall fruits and vegetables such as corn, squash, apples, and a pumpkin. Wash all food items well before using them, and wash hands before the activity. Place these on a plastic table cloth or in a tub. Invite your child to explore these items. Pick them up one by one, smell them, touch them, squeeze them, measure them with yarn or a tape measure, weigh them, and look at them with a magnifying glass. Introduce your child to new vocabulary words that describe the items (smooth, bumpy, rough, scratchy, orange, yellow, green, heavy, light, long, round, etc.). Once children have spent time in observation, you can cut the fruits and vegetables open so they can smell and taste everything. Continue having a conversations about what can be observed such as whether or not it is juicy, how the seeds look, and how the inside color and texture compares to the outside.
     
  • Thumbprint Turkeys: This is appropriate for ages two and up. You will need some white construction paper, a black marker, newspapers, damp washcloth, and non-toxic stamp pads or some home-made paint in brown, red, orange, and yellow (see recipe above under “Spider Web Fun”). Spread the newspapers out on a table. Place the white paper on top, along with the stamp pads. If you are using homemade paint, place a very small amount on a paper plate and tilt the plate so it spreads thin and acts more like a stamp pad. You and your child can press your thumbs in the brown paint, and then press them on the white paper to create a turkey body. Wipe your thumbs clean, and then use your pinky fingers to make colored feathers around the turkey body. After the paint dries, use the black marker to draw eyes, a beak, two legs, and three toes on each leg. If your child decides she wants to paint her turkey a different way, or simply finger paint with fall colors, that is okay! The creative process and sensory experience is more important than the product!
     
  • Practicing Gratitude: Noticing the things in our life that we are grateful for, and taking time to feel thankful to have what we do, can help us live happier, healthier, lives. Thanksgiving is a time when families give thanks for all that they have, but gratitude can be practiced all year long. Click here to learn why gratitude is important. Click here for ideas of how you and your child can practice gratitude every day.

Simple Cooking Projects

Cooking projects offer children the opportunity to experiment with math and science concepts, learn new vocabulary, and talk about living a healthy life style. Click here to see a summary by age of how children can help in the kitchen,

  • Apple Tasting: This is appropriate for any age able to safely eat an apple. You will need a few different varieties of apples, a knife (for adult use only), a piece of paper, and crayons. You and your child can try bites of each apple and make a chart of which ones you liked best.
     
  • Monster Toast: This is appropriate for ages three and up. You will need white bread, milk, food coloring, small bowls, small paintbrushes, a cookie sheet, and access to an oven with a broiler. Fill each bowl with some milk and add a generous amount of food coloring. Invite your child to paint a monster face on one side of a slice of white bread. Toast it in the broiler. Allow your child to put a little butter on top and eat her monster. Yum!
     
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: This cooking activity is appropriate for ages three and up (with adult help). Allow your child to assist as much as is safely possible.
     
    • You will need: one (1) quart of water, two (2) tablespoons of salt, about two (2) cups of pumpkin seeds, one (1) tablespoon of vegetable oil, a pot, a bowl, a cookie sheet, and access to a stove.
       
    • Directions: Once you have your pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin, remove as much of the pulp as you can and discard any damaged seeds. Pour the water and salt into the pot and place it on the stove. Bring the water to a boil and pour in the seeds. Boil the seeds for about ten minutes, then drain them, spread them on a kitchen towel or paper towels, and pat them dry. Place the seeds in a bowl and toss them with the vegetable oil. Spread them evenly onto a cookie sheet and roast them at three hundred (300) hundred degrees for thirty-five to forty-five (35-45) minutes. Stir them about every ten (10) minutes so they cook evenly. Once they are golden brown, remove them from the oven and let them cool. You can crack open the shells to enjoy the seeds, or place them in an air-tight container and store them in the refrigerator.
       
  • Baked Zucchini Fries: This cooking activity is appropriate for ages three and up. Allow your child to assist as much as is safely possible.
     
    • You will need: Two (2) medium zucchini, one-fourth ( ¼) cup of flour, one-fourth (¼) cup of breadcrumbs, one (1) egg, one-fourth (¼) teaspoon of salt, a dash of pepper, three (3) tablespoons of vegetable oil, a knife (for adult use), two (2) sealable plastic bags, a cookie sheet, a spatula, access to an oven, and paper towels.
       
    • Directions: Wash and dry the zucchini. Preheat the oven to 400º. Slice the zucchini into strips that resemble French fries. Pour the breadcrumbs, flour, and salt into one of the sealable plastic bags, seal and squeeze to mix. Crack the egg into the other plastic bag, seal, and squeeze until the egg is scrambled. Coat the cookie sheet with oil. Drop some sliced zucchini into the bag with the egg, seal, and shake the bag to coat the zucchini. Remove the zucchini and drop them in the bag with the breadcrumb mixture. Shake the bag to coat the zucchini in breadcrumbs. Remove them and place them on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the zucchini are ready to bake. Cook the zucchini for ten (10) minutes and then turn them over and cook them for another ten (10) minutes. Remove the zucchini from the oven and transfer them to paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Enjoy!

Children’s Books

Cuddle up and read with your child. You can read the story as it is written, or simply talk about the pictures on each page. Reading to your child for fifteen minutes a day can help boost her language and literacy skills. Visit your local library and check out books about fall. Libraries also have special events which are free to attend. Click here to find your local library. Here are some books to look for: http://www.ilovelibraries.org/what-libraries-do

Books for infants and toddlers:

  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
  • Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
  • Fall by Roger Priddy
  • Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
  • Happy Thanksgiving by Roger Priddy
  • Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson
  • One… Two… Boo! by Kristin L. Depkin
  • Puppet Book Series by ImageBooks (bat, cat, owl, spider, turkey)
  • The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry
  • The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by Elizabeth Mills

Books for three and four year old children:

  • A Day at the Apple Orchard by Megan Faulkner and Adam Krawesky
  • A Day at the Pumpkin Patch by Megan Faulkner and Adam Krawesky
  • Creepy Things Are Scaring Me by Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey
  • Feeling Thankful by Shelley Rotner and Sheila Kelly (Ed.D)
  • Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  • The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

Books for children ages five and older:

  • Animals in Fall: Preparing for Winter by Martha E.H. Rustad
  • Apples, Apples Everywhere by Robin Koontz
  • Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies
  • BOO! by Robert Munsch
  • Johnny Appleseed by Jane Kurtz
  • Owls by Gail Gibbons
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
  • The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

Additional Resources:

Sources / Notes:

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