Going out in nature and teaching children about autumn is possible as long as you have a slight seasonal change in your area. Even where I live in the South, small changes can be observed as the seasons change. Here are some ideas for activities your child can do.
Education standard*: Observe plants and animals; describe how they are alike and how they are different in the way they look and in the things they do.
Activity: Spend time outside observing plants and animals as they get ready for winter. If possible, view birds migrating south, squirrels gathering and burying acorns, and changes in leaf colors. Notice how some birds don’t migrate and leaves of some trees don’t change color or fall off. Draw a picture of a nature scene that shows what different plants and animals do during the fall.
Education standard: Recognize that some things in the world around us happen fast and some happen slowly.
Activity: Choose an area that you can visit every day for at least one week, such as your yard. Write or draw observations of what the environment looks like. Every day, look for changes in the environment. Examples of observations could be flowers blooming, leaves changing colors or falling, or seeds/nuts/berries being eaten or taken away by animals. You might also observe changes in the times of sunrise and sunset or the temperature and rainfall. Make a short flip book to show a fast change, and make a longer flip book to show a slow change.
Education standard: Compare and describe changing patterns in nature that repeat themselves, such as weather conditions including temperature and precipitation, day to day and season to season.
Activity: Visit an outdoor location and write or draw patterns seen every fall, such as leaves changing color and falling, sea grapes ripening, days getting shorter, and nights getting longer. View a graph online that shows average monthly temperature and precipitation in your city, and discuss the differences in temperature and precipitation in the fall compared to other seasons. Draw or paint a picture that shows what the environment is like in the fall.
Education standard: Describe how animals and plants respond to changing seasons.
Activity: Spend time outside observing plants and animals as they get ready for winter, and take pictures of them if you’re able to. Read books and watch videos about hibernation, migration, and/or changes in leaf color. Make a poster about one of these topics using pictures that you took or drawings. Write sentences to describe your topic and the pictures.
Education standard: Compare the seasonal changes in your state’s plants and animals to those in other regions of the country.
Activity: My choice of activity for this learning goal would be to take trips to other regions of the country to view the seasons firsthand. However, since this isn’t always possible, watching videos is an acceptable runner-up activity. Research autumn changes for different regions of the country. Then print out a blank U.S. map and draw pictures in the different regions that represent what autumn looks like in those locations.
Teaching children about autumn can be fun and hands-on. Try out these activities, and help your child learn while connecting with nature.
*Education standards are from Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.