Summer is over, school has started, and our lives are more structured. This is a key time for learning and exploration. My children are still too young for school, but we feel it in our family. The atmosphere has shifted. The neighborhood is quiet during the day. There is less daylight. Fall is here. Soon the leaves will change.
One of my favorite memories as a kid is going up into the mountains to see the leaves in the fall. We didn’t have to go far, being in Colorado. We would pick a sunny September day to drive up and find a trail to hike through aspen groves, looking for the rare red leaves. I remember the way the light shimmered through the quaking leaves, the way the leaves smell as they fell around you. There was something magical about that time. When we moved up to the mountains, I was kind of sad that the pilgrimage stopped. Kind of, because the hill in front of our house was covered with aspen trees.
This is one of the memories that I want my children to have. Of course, I want my them to have a deep respect for nature, but I also want them to have a relationship with it. The natural world doesn’t stop existing when school starts, there is so much left to explore. The changing of the seasons is a great way to show kids how the world outside evolves throughout the year. Here are some ways to help your children bond with Autumn and it’s amazing beauty.
Change up their Bedtime Reading
If you’re ready to add a little (pumpkin) spice to bedtime, start by introducing a book about Autumn. My family is really digging Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pac right now, My Autumn Book by Wong Herbert Yee is also freaking adorable. There is no shortage of books about this season, though. We are currently into non-fiction books as well, books that talk about why animals are storing their seeds, why the leaves are going to change, and what the end of the harvest season looks like. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbel does a great job talking about fall and the life cycle of pumpkins throughout the year.
Hit up the Library
Autumn can be a rainy time of year. It’s getting chilly, there is no better time to browse the stacks than now. Typically this is the time of year that Libraries are pulling out their books about Autumn and harvest, and (eeee) Halloween. Even story and craft times are starting to look more cozy/spooky. If you’re stuck trying to find something for your kid that they’ll enjoy, ask a librarian. They’re brilliant at finding books my child wants to read. If that doesn’t work, pick up a book for yourself and let your kid go hog wild playing with the puppets or trains in the children’s section. Sometimes that happens.
Pack a Picnic and Hit the Trail
Or your backyard, or your local park. Anywhere to get some fresh air. It’s time to put all that learning to practice. Maybe craft a nature journal with your kids so they can log what they find out there. Help them look for squirrels foraging for winter, help them find several different types of leaves, spread out your picnic and go over your observations. If you’re in your neighborhood, ask them about how things are changing around them, ask them to see how the wildlife around you is moving, ask them where the bugs are. If you go to a nature preserve or trail, maybe see what they have at the trailhead for hikers to look out for. Don’t forget to pick up your trash after your picnic, and maybe try to pick up a little extra litter you find- modeling kindness toward nature is one of the best things you can do.
Just Have Fun
This time of year is supposed to represent a slowing down. The plants, the animals, the air (it seems) is all slowing down, getting ready to rest. It doesn’t help if we approach this with stress and fatigue. You might already have so much on your plate that adding more could topple the delicate balance that you’ve created. This is also about bonding with your children through books and nature. If you only have half an hour here or there, take them. You’re doing a great job.
I hope that these help you find your way outside with your kids this season. It is a truly magical time.