Fall into fall with joy: show kids a color-it-wonderful good time

Apple-picking, leaf-raking, corn shock-bundling season is here again. Now that we are officially a week into autumn, kids and grown-ups often wake up to a nip in the air or glance out the window at a chilly, rainy afternoon.

Whether it’s the golden light just before dusk or colors that can change overnight, it’s an amazing time of year. Writer, activist, and philosopher Albert Camus captured it beautifully when he said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Helping kids see the multi-sensory opportunities in this transitional time of year can be so much fun. Here are some ideas for adding sizzle to the drizzle or fun to the sunshine.

Take in a hometown football game – wrap up the family in a cozy bleacher blanket to imprint the sights, smells, and sounds that are classic fall.

Show kids where apples come from – pick a peck of something fabulous like Honeycrisp and/or visit a cider mill to watch a pressing.

Let them rake in some cash – hand kids a rake and negotiate a per-pile or per-bag payment; be forgiving if the piles get jumped in first.

Turn over a new leaf – take a walk in the woods and describe the smells; see how many different kinds of mushrooms pop up through the leaf litter.

Add a little pumpkin pie spice to…just about anything – malts, pancakes, and muffins become instantly “seasonal” and smell great, too.

Count your lucky stars – even the fall night sky is different; Venus, which was high in the western post-dusk sky nearly all summer, now rises in the east before dawn with Mars and Jupiter below it, and Mercury makes an appearance nearby.

If leaves aren’t turning color in your corner of the world, make these bright leaves from freekidscrafts.com out of coffee filters and food coloring! Or create an Apple Print Wreath from allkidsnetwork.com, using real apple halves dipped in paint.

As days grow shorter, stir up something tasty for the tummy. Fall is a super time for simmering a pot of soup, so put together the dried ingredients for Delicious Fall Harvest Soup, also from allkids. Gift a teacher or neighbor with this “healthy blend of vegetables, pasta, beans, and spices” in a jar, but save a batch for a family meal at home, too.

For dessert, introduce kids to what McCormick terms “the quintessential warm and comforting fall dessert”: apple dumplings.

At the close of an adventure-packed fall day, turn off the lights and plug in a soft, happy tune. Kids will love to sing along with “I Grow, Too”: “Hatchlings become turtles. Piglets become pigs. A gosling’s called a goose when it gets real big.” Watch vocabulary expand, and imagination soar, even as eyelids get heavy. Gift your favorite cuddle bug with “Hug Bug,” or help the littlest learners learn to count with “Count Your Blessings.”

Sweet endings for crisp days!