Are you wanting to encourage a love of nature with your kids autumn is a great time to start, not only are there amazing seasonal changes but also for many in the northern hemisphere it’s the start of the new academic year and a perfect time to start. We have some great nature ideas and activities that your kids and you can enjoy this fall so check them out below.
Fall Nature Activities and Ideas
So many changes happen between September and December that at the very basic level you don’t have to do much more than look out of the window and see them. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are so much more you that and your kids can do so check them out below.
Autumn Nature Walks
If you don’t do anything else then make a habit to go for a nature walk regularly with the kids, whether they are tots or teens. You could follow the same route each time, or maybe you would like to explore different areas.
Dress appropriately for the weather, bring snacks, a camera, and a small bag to collect your finds. I have also added the Seek App to my smartphone so that I can identify the plants and in some cases the animals that we find along the way.
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We often come home with nature finds and add them to our nature table (a window sill in our home) to showcase what is happening throughout the year.
Fall Nature Journal
Keeping a nature journal is a great way to reflect on the changes that happen throughout the season and across years. We started with a simple one when the kids were preschoolers - you can read how to nature journal with preschoolers to find out how we went about it.
As they have got older we have used drawing books, bought nature journals but more recently have started with a sketchbook. It's up to your kids what they include but if you go on regular nature walks like suggested above then I would recommend including at the minimum:
- Location of walk
- Weather conditions
- List of nature finds
- Individual focus (optional but great for older kids)
An individual focus is just 1 thing that took their interest in more details. If the weather is good we may sit and sketch whilst on our walk, however, the camera comes out a lot and we take pictures that we can use to sketch, print, and add to the journal.
If appropriate, then we may also have a specimen that we collect, press, and add to the journal at a later point.
Do you know how many of the birds that you see in the summer disappear in autumn and winter? How about ones that suddenly appear? If you have a window, balcony, yard, garden, or access to some outdoor space then starting to feed, encourage the birds to visit and more means that you can see what is going on.
We have put together some simple bird food recipes that you can use as well as our favourite homemade suet balls that are ideal to feed the birds. Once you have some food set up (don't forget the water) then why not start a bird journal.
Yes, you can add it to your existing nature journal, or you can use our free printable bird journal sheets to record regularly the visitors to your bird feeders.
Investigate Seeds and Fruit
Fruit and seeds are the way that plants reproduce, in spring and summer we look at pollination but autumn is the ideal time to look at dispersal through different methods.
Take time to head outside and look for seeds on different plants, discuss how they are dispersed in more detail, collect some if you wish and use them to grow your own in the spring.
Pick some berries (warning do not allow your children to eat them unless you are 100% sure they are edible) and see if you can find the seeds, why do you kids think that the seeds are like that?
Don't forget to save your Halloween pumpkin seeds they are great to grow next year, read about how to collect and grow your own pumpkin seeds we've been doing it for years.
Although the nights drawing in can be hard, it's also a fantastic time to explore the night sky.
What you see in the sky changes based on where you are in the world, the time and the date. However, with apps and books, you can find out what you are looking at easily.
You don't even need much equipment, just a dark night with low or no cloud cover and even with your eye, you will be able to see loads.
Why not complete a moon diary as well - follow the phases of the moon as it changes through 1 month this autumn, check out our FREE Lunar Journal to add to your nature activities.
Hunt for Fungi
Autumn is the perfect time to learn about fungi. Again, the seek app I linked to above is great to take along with you to identify some of the fungi that you will find.
If you can, maybe find a local foraging course that you and the kids can do with an expert and learn about some of the edible mushrooms that you can find in your area. I wouldn't advise doing this without a guide as some can appear very similar and be highly toxic.
Fungi are one of our favourite nature topics for fall why not check out some of these ideas below.
Observe Animal Behaviour
We already mentioned the changes in birds but they aren't the only animals that change what they do in autumn.
How about spending some time to slow down and observe what is happening, can you see any animals preparing for winter, how about those going into hibernation?
We spend time each year watching the local squirrels they scurry about collecting seeds and nuts that they can then store and use when there is little in winter to observe.
Some of the animals may need a hand, so it's the perfect time to build a wildlife habitat for them to hide in if you have space, we were inspired by the Gruffalo to build a log pile home and you can be too just click the blue underlined link to find out how.
Prepare for Spring Nature Study
Autumn is the best time to prepare the first few flowers to grow and bloom in the spring. Plant some bulbs and this will provide an opportunity for your spring nature study and plant science activities.
With toddlers and preschoolers, we love to read the book planting a rainbow first, and then head out to plant the bulbs. Find out about spring bulb planting with toddlers and preschoolers in more detail.
More Ideas for Autumn Fun for Kids
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.