As autumn approaches, we’re starting to think about the next activities at our OSHC services. We always pride ourselves on offering a wide range of activities and we’re determined to come up with some different activities for autumn.
We thought we’d share some of our favourite autumn activities for children of all ages for some at-home fun; something that’s extra handy while we’re in COVID-19 lockdown.
1. Cooking with warming Mexican flavours
When it gets chilly outside, we usually start craving some warming foods. We like to take this opportunity to introduce children to some different foods that they might not be used to preparing for themselves but will leave them feeling super satisfied on a cold or dreary day.
This healthy chicken enchilada recipe is not only really popular with children, but it’s also easy to make so they can get fully involved. There aren’t too many ingredients or too many steps to follow.
2. Painting with autumn leaves
For something different from the usual autumn art activities, make a beautiful masterpiece by using leaves as stencils.
Lay the leaves out on a white background and hold them in place with blue tac so they don’t rip the paper when you remove them later. Get your children to paint around the leaves using a mixture of autumnal colours. They don’t need to do it neatly - the messier the better! We also like using sponges to paint as it creates a nice texture.
When they’re done, remove the leaves and you’ll have white leaf outlines amongst an amazing array of autumnal tones. You can also put a dab of colour in the white leaves if you want to.
We think this works really well if you get your children to collect leaves that are different shapes and sizes, like this example. Depending on how big the leaves are and the size of your paper, they might need anywhere from 5 to 10 leaves.
3. Apple and eggshell at-home science experiments
Mix up your autumn activities by bringing in some science. We have lots of science experiments that children love to get involved with. Here are a couple we like when we’re spending more time indoors.
For the serious scientist, cut apples into cubes and split them into several small containers - such as ramekins or empty plastic containers. Add a different type of liquid to each container so that it covers the apple and then see which set of apples start to brown more quickly. Use something like lemon juice or baking soda in one of your containers for slow browning. Leave one container open to the air to show how quickly apples brown without any protection from the air. Here’s the experiment for you to follow at home.
Another one we love is creating eggshell geode crystals. This requires a little bit of preparation but is really colourful and suits children who like to check in on their experiment over several days.
Prepare your eggshells by cracking them close to the end and removing the contents. Remove the membrane by running the shell under warm water and let them dry. Create several types of water solutions with different solids dissolved in them, and tint each with different food colouring. Fill each eggshell with a different solution, let the water evaporate and watch as crystals grow.
4. Starting a pinecone weather station
Did you know that you can use pine cones to check the weather forecast? This a fun multi-day activity that you only have to set up once.
Pine cones open or close depending on the weather. In dry weather, they open up to let the wind take the tiny seeds stored inside so more pine trees can grow. If it’s wet weather though, the pine cones close up so the seeds don’t get waterlogged and become too heavy to travel far enough away on the wind.
Take your children out to collect some pinecones, then select an outdoor window sill you can see from indoors. Blue tac your pinecones to the window sill so they don’t fall off, and then send your children to check the weather forecast every morning and afternoon.
You could also set up a chart to monitor the pine cone forecast against the actual weather, so your children can check the accuracy.
5. Making a herbarium
A herbarium is a collection of dried plants and flowers in a book or notepad with some notes about the species. Creating your own herbarium is a great activity because there are several parts of the process and you can spread it over a couple of weeks or more.
The first part of the process is going out to find plants and flowers in your area. Then you’ll need to press them, before finally arranging them into your chosen notebook. It pays to do a bit of research about plants in your local area first, so you can guide your children in identifying the plants you pick. If it’s too tricky for them, it could be disheartening.
When you go out to pick your plants, take a small notepad to write down your observations so you don’t have to remember the details. Your children might want to record where they found the plant, what they thought of it, how it smells and of course, the name. You’ll also want some way of knowing which plant the notes relate to - so they should either write a good description or label their specimens with numbers.
Once the flowers and plants have dried, your children get to arrange them in their new herbarium book and decide how to copy in the notes they made when they collected them. They might choose to arrange by colour, location, size, or simply by their favourites.
6. Crafting an autumn leaf suncatcher
Make your windows beautiful and keep the children entertained at the same time with this activity. You’ll need tissue paper in colours like yellow, orange, red and brown. as well as some sticky back plastic.
Cut the plastic into any kind of leaf shape you like - perhaps a variety if you’re making a few. Get your child to cut or tear up the tissue paper and use the sticky side of the plastic to create a collage.
When they’ve covered the surface, get a second sheet of sticky back plastic to stick over the tissue paper and see the design. They might also like to make a border for the leaves out of other coloured paper you have lying around, even old wallpaper or magazine cuttings can work. Finally, stick the leaves in the window and watch the lovely autumn sunlight come shining through. You can learn how to make a cellophane suncatcher here.
You can use the same process to make smaller leaves and string them together for hanging suncatchers.
7. Designing a maze or mandala
We like to get the children outside as much as possible when the weather’s dry. These activities keep everyone entertained for quite a while and can we sometimes return to them through .
Challenge your children to make a maze out of fallen leaves. You can dictate size or tell them that it must be square or circular. You might want to have them make more than one maze so they can challenge each other.
If you’re lucky enough to have a big garden, the only thing you might want to do first is spend some time raking up the leaves so they’re easily accessible before you make a maze. If you’re doing this activity in a park, choose a space close to the trees.
Once you’ve done this a couple of times, give your children a different challenge. We love seeing what they come up with when we ask them to make a pretty pattern. With older children, you can explain what a mandala is and see if they can make their own from leaves.
For children that love action, challenge them to make an obstacle course from leaves - we suggest pop-up tunnels with hanging leaves at either end, flat leaf ladders to jump through and using the maze to finish it off.
8. Creating leaf crowns and tiaras
We love this activity because you can use almost anything you have around as the base of the crown. Use spare paper or felt, for example, to make the headband so it fits snugly. We like to use a narrow band so it’s easier to cover entirely with leaves, but this depends on the final look your fairy queen or elf king wants to achieve!
Once you’ve got the base, glue real leaves to the outside, or make your own leaves out of tissue paper, more felt or any other coloured materials you have at home. Try layering extra leaves at the front to get the extra height in the middle if you’re going for a more tiara-like look. Stick some twigs to the band to make it look more natural.
If your children love getting involved with lots of activities - sign them up for Camp Australia. We tailor all of our activities to the interests of the children attending each session, helping them develop and use new skills and hobbies every day. Visit https://www.campaustralia.com.au/families for more information about our programs.