We can have good weather in the UK in the autumn. So if there is still warmth in the air and it is dry take advantage and spend some time with your children in your garden. Offer them a variety of activities to keep their interest in outdoor play.
Fun with Autumn Leaves
Leaves from trees can provide endless opportunities for jumping and rolling in and, of course, throwing. The children will love help sweeping up and raking fallen leaves into large piles. A small ‘child friendly’ rake can be a good investment. My son loves to bury his small toys in his play sand table filled with leaves. It then becomes easy to create dinosaur land or a fairy grotto.
Make full use of autumn’s orange, red and bronze colour palette. Pick up a colour paint chart from your local DIY store. You can try one with a variety of colours or those with different tones of autumnal colour. Then ask the children to match the colours on the chart to those found on leaves and other items within the garden.
Make a Glorious Leaf Crown
Materials: leaves, glue, thin cardboard or thick paper, stapler.
Directions:* Collect leaves, staple the card or paper together to make a circle to fit the child’s head, glue or staple the leaves to the crown.
Have a Go at Leaf Prints
Materials: paper plates, finger paint, paper and leaves
Instructions: Gather various leaves. Put a dab of finger paint onto several paper plates – one for each colour. Then let the children dip a leaf in the paint and then press it onto the paper. Let dry.
Try Leaf Rubbings
Materials: paper, leaves, wax crayons.
Instructions: Gather leaves of various kinds. Cover a leaf with a piece of paper with the more “lumpy” side of the leaf (the back side) facing the paper. Lay a crayon on its side (it works better this way) and gently colour across the leaf. The print of the leaf should show on the paper.
Preserve the Autumn
Pictures made from leaves are not always easy to keep. If the picture is relatively flat and you have a laminator then have a go at laminating it. They make great table mats.
You can have a go at a nature scavenger hunt by listing things that you know can be found in your garden in autumn and asking the children to find them. Perhaps seed heads, coloured leaves, conkers or acorns with their hats on.
You will find this a really easy leaf activity
Whilst they are playing don’t forget there are a few garden jobs for you to do. Autumn is one of the best times to plant shrubs. You will also find the garden centres full of spring flowering bulbs ready to plant immediately. Planting in pots allows you to move them close to the house so you can easily view the blooms. If you want to plant a willow tunnel or willow teepee and order your willow for planting early in 2013.
If you haven’t been feeding the birds through the summer now is the time to start. There are some lovely birdfeeders available or you could make your own. The birds will then become use to having food in the same place everyday. Hang up any sunflower heads you may have grown over the summer. But don’t forget to keep a few seeds for planting next year.
As the evenings start to draw in older children and those who do not go to bed early have the opportunity to see the garden at dusk. Wrap them up and let them have a torch so they can explore the shadows and sounds of a night time garden. Go on a torchlight safari for moths and other nighttime insects. Buddleia, Honeysuckle and other night-scented plants are a good place to start.
Plant Some Spring Bulbs with your Children
Autumn is the time to prepare your garden for next year. Take a look to see what bulbs we planted in our garden in the autumn.
Using your garden in the autumn will provide your children with childhood memories of autumn of crisp, scrunching leaves and a garden of fading blooms and plants and trees going to sleep. They will start to understand that the outdoors is not just for hot summer’s days and that there is plenty of fun to be had in the garden at other times of the year.
There is truth in the saying ‘There is not such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.’