I know that yesterday was unseasonably warm, but autumn is most definitely here! We've had our first lighting of the log burner, to celebrate the Autumn Equinox last Sunday. I'm finding myself cooking soup and 'shepherdless' pie, and yesterday we wrestled our bag of winter clothes out in search of slippers. We're also really enjoying having candles lit in the evenings.
Here are some of the ways that we have celebrated autumn together over the years.
Go on an Autumn Nature Walk
There's no better way to encourage young children to observe and talk about the change in season than by going out together on a walk in nature. You might have a nature spot that you like to visit regularly, but if not, simply a walk around your neighbourhood or stomp about in your garden will present opportunities to talk about the changes you notice. If you want to make a special trip, arboretums are especially lovely for comparing the colours of the leaves, and for gathering a variety of different seeds. You can visit the Forestry Commission for England here to find your nearest forest or woodland.
Create an Autumn Nature Table or Tray
Once you are home from your nature walk, gather together your treasures to create a display. If you have very young children, then a tray works well as you can put it up and out of reach when your children are not supervised. Otherwise, a low table or counter top is ideal. Lay a scarf or piece of fabric in an autumn colour on your tray or table, then arrange your treasures on it. You can add a few of your favourite autumn books, a toy hedgehog or squirrel, or whatever else you may have in your home that feels autumnal.
Make Autumn Crowns
This is a lovely and simple activity to offer young children when you are out and about in nature, or to offer once home from your nature walk. Cut a piece of card so that it will fit around your child's head. With an A4 sheet, I usually cut it in half length ways, and then cut each piece in half length ways again, so that you have 4 long strips. You can then attach two of the strips together at the end with a stapler. Leave the strips flat for now. Attach double sided sticky tape to one side of the long strip of card, all the way along. Once you are ready, remove the backing of the sticky tape and your child can attach leaves, feathers, sycamore seeds etc to create a crown. My top tip is to use dry leaves. This activity doesn't work well on a wet day as wet leaves won't stick to the tape. Once finished, staple to secure around your child's head.
You'll find all sorts of beautiful and inspiring autumn art ideas on Pinterest, Instagram and through internet searches. Printing with autumn leaves, autumn collage, sticking leaves on the window with contact paper, painting with autumn colours, wool wrapped autumn leaves. You can read about how to create a seasonal paint palette in this blog post.
Read Autumn Books Together
These are our favourite, tried and tested, autumn books...
This is a wordless board book, so suitable for the very youngest children, with beautiful, detailed illustrations. At 7, Bean still enjoys looking at the pictures in this one, and we share our memories of collecting conkers, jumping in leaves etc. or make up our own stories. This is one of a series of four; one for each season. This book also makes a beautiful addition to your nature table. If I was going to choose just one Autumn book, it'd be this one.
This is one of a collection of ten books by Shirley Hughes, featuring short stories and poems. There is one for each of the seasons, plus other concepts such as colours, numbers, sizes etc. Her books are completely timeless, and wonderfully relevant and interesting to young children. The illustrations are beautifully observed and detailed. I am a HUGE Shirley Hughes fan, but Bean is beginning to outgrow these at 7, so I'd say that these books are most suitable from 2-6 yrs.
This is a simple non-fiction book, for children aged 3-7 yrs. Lovely big photographs, accompanied by simple text.
The Brambly Hedge stories were some of my favourites as a child, and I'm so delighted to be sharing them with my own child. This particular story follows the mice of Brambly Hedge as they gather in the harvest, so it's a lovely one to read at this time of year. The stories themselves are quite long, so I'd suggest that they're more suitable to children aged 5+, or those that are able to sit and listen to a longer story. The illustrations are absolutely exquisite.
And lastly, an anthology of autumn stories and poems for older children and adults. This is a wonderful collection, with something for everyone. As Sue Brooks says in her review "Waking early in the dark is autumn's gift, I tell myself. Get out there and smell it, taste it, watch and listen. 64 authors in this fine collection, skillfully assembled by Melissa Harrison, have the same message. The UK in autumn is a feast for the senses. If you feel it is passing you by, dip into these pages"
You'll find all these autumn books, and more, listed on the Autumn Books page of my Bookshop.
Did you know that I have a digital Autumn Play and Learning Guide for children age 3-7 years? It includes a recommended reading list and recommended play and learning materials list, as well as an Autumn song and poem, some simple activities to get you started and then full instructions for over 20 Autumn themed activities. As with all of my play and learning guides, the activities included are simple, fun, low cost and low waste, and the guide is currently on sale with 25% off. You can download a few free taster pages here.
How are you celebrating Autumn with your children? Do you have a seasonal display? Have you been inspired by any interesting or beautiful autumn art ideas? Please share them in the comments.
With love, Rowan x
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.