Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 3, 2005, Herald Journal

Make time to enjoy fall festivities


We are lucky in Minnesota, that our seasons provide such observable changes, and each season offers its own unique beauty and attributes that we can share, rediscover, and appreciate with our young ones.

It is important that we instill in our children an appreciation for nature and a respect for the world we live in. There are a variety of things that we can do with our children to help them attain this sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation.

Autumn offers much splendor to observe, along with simple, yet meaningful activities to participate in.

In the autumn, (from Sherri Osborn, familycrafts.about.com, and from our own experiences), you can visit an apple orchard, pick some apples, and go on a hayride.

In the autumn, the leaves on the trees start turning colors, to enjoy on a walk, a drive, or in our own backyards.

In the autumn, the bears and other animals get ready for hibernation; you can sit on your porch, deck, or steps and watch the squirrels scampering about collecting acorns; and it’s fun to walk around and collect pine cones, acorns, and colorful leaves and make a collage of your discoveries.

In the autumn, the leaves are falling, and you can have fun raking them up and jumping in the piles; the air is getting cool and crisp, and you can pack away your shorts and unpack your warm sweatshirts and jackets.

In the autumn, you can observe birds flying south for the winter, such as geese flying in their “V” formations; you can enjoy a drive around the countryside to view the picturesque scenery in all its colorful glory, contrasting colors of yellows, greens, browns, and black.

In the autumn, you can watch the farmers with their gigantic machinery harvesting their crops, leaving the fields bare until next year; you can enjoy watching a football game or playing some football yourself.

In the autumn, children get to go back to school and be reunited with special friends and meet new ones; you can enjoy a cup of hot apple cider or hot cocoa with some marshmallows, a caramel apple, and a piece of apple or pumpkin pie with ice cream.

In the autumn, you can visit a pumpkin patch, pick and carve some pumpkins, and create a scare crow.

My family and I recently enjoyed some of autumn’s most popular and fun activities. We went to an apple orchard, picked our own apples (Honey Crisp is our favorite), picked our own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, enjoyed a hayride, played on a straw bale tower, and enjoyed hot apple cider and pumpkin pie (my kids’ favorite), with ice cream and whipped topping, of course.

It was a wonderful day. The air was cool and crisp, but comfortable.

We also engaged in some simple, but fun fall and Halloween decorating at home. We strung orange lights from the porch, put orange and green bulbs in the porch lights, hung cobwebs (bought from the store – although we probably have some of our own on the porch, as well), and picked gourds from our garden to add festive touches to the yard, while listening to “Monster Mash” music and chomping on our apples from the orchard.

And of course, we got our hands and feet dirty, while making our own autumn and Halloween crafts and decorations. Inspired from a Barney (the purple dinosaur) Halloween show, we dipped our feet in some white, washable paint and made footprint ghosts on black paper, then added eyes to complete the ghosts. All of us, including our 18-month-old, enjoyed this activity.

Bats were at the top of our decorating agenda, too. This time, we used our handprints to create the bats. We folded black pieces of paper, traced our hand onto the paper, and cut the handprints out (omitting the thumbprint), and added eyes, and string at the top for the bat to fly.

You can also create handprint spiders by dipping or painting your children’s hands in/with black paint and printing them onto the paper with fingers away from each other and heals of the hand touching. When dry, add wiggly eyes, and some string for hanging, and you’ve got a cute spider.

Other fun and simple fall activities (FamilyFun magazine, October, 2005) to participate in could include, hiding a number of acorns in a large pile of leaves and letting your children loose to find as many acorns as they can in a set amount of time.

Collecting leaves is always a fun activity, but then go a step farther and use a leaf guidebook to try and identify the trees they came from. Use some of the leaves and paint faces on them to create leaf people and creatures.

Of course, crayon rubbing over a leaf is fun, too. Put a piece of white paper over a leaf and use a crayon to rub over the top to get the imprint of the leaf on the paper.

And here are some fun Halloween jokes to enjoy (www.celebrationcorner.com):

What do you call a skeleton who won’t work? Lazy bones.

What do ghosts serve for dessert? I scream.

Be sure to enjoy the autumn days, and a cup of apple cider.