The seasons are changing, and soon nature will create a feast for our eyes! Autumn is particularly colorful – from the leaves on the trees, to the grapes on the vines, to the pumpkins in the fields. It’s the perfect time to make your activities a sensory experience for your senior adults.

Some of the season’s holidays, national celebrations, sporting events, festivals, and family outings are highlighted below. Use them to evoke memories of the sights and sounds of autumn. Add your own sensory activities to the mix.

  • Family Farm. Reminisce about life on the family farm during the harvest season. Use the following action verbs to stimulate some memories: pick, thresh, press, chop, rake, plow, tend, gather, harvest, and shuck. Pass around seasonal favorites (such as corn, acorns/nuts, wheat stalks, straw, sunflowers, apple or cornhusk dolls) for visual stimulation.
  • Farmers Market. Create a seasonal decoration such as an autumn centerpiece using gourds, berries, Indian corn, dried flowers, and small pumpkins. Sample fall fruits such as pears, grapes, and apples.
  • Pick-Your-Own Orchard. Hold an apple-tasting party. Slice varieties of apples (e.g., Red and Golden Delicious, Stayman, Gala, Empire, Rome Beauty, or Fuji) into bite-sized pieces. Ask your group members to pick their favorite. Enjoy a favorite apple dessert.
  • Grandma’s Kitchen. Enjoy some flavors of fall. Sample some of Grandma’s favorite fall desserts (e.g., cinnamon buns, apple spice cake, pumpkin pie, or gingerbread). Identify baking spices by scent (e.g., cinnamon, clove, nutmeg).
  • German Oktoberfest. Sing the famous polka song “Beer Barrel Polka” and demonstrate the Chicken Dance. Sample some German foods such as Black Forest cake and apple strudel.
  • College Football Game. Wave college pennants and sing football fight songs. (Example: “Notre Dame Victory March”) For exercise, pass a football. Watch a DVD of football bloopers.
  • World Series Playoff. Reminisce about Yankees baseball in the 1950s, the decade in which the team won six World Series championships. Show photographs of managers/players such as Casey Stengel, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle. Invite a baseball card collector to talk about Topps baseball cards in the 1950s.
  • Veterans Day Parade. Share recollections of military parades, ceremonies, and speeches. Listen to some patriotic music. Invite members of veterans organizations (e.g., American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars) to speak about activities in the community. Display vintage military uniforms.
  • Election Day Polling Place. Invite a long-time election poll worker to share memories of presidential election days at the polls. Pass around presidential campaign memorabilia. Hold a straw election.
  • Halloween Party. Ask participants if they recall when the first Halloween costumes appeared in the stores. Create a character costume from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s. (Example: Charlie Chaplin)
  • School Classroom. Read some traditional poetry on the autumnal season. A favorite: “To Autumn” by John Keats.
  • Broadway Theatre. Celebrate the fall season on Broadway by watching the film version of a 1950s musical, like State Fair, Guys and Dolls, or Oklahoma!
  • State Fair. Celebrate this popular American tradition by sampling food-on-a-stick. Show photographs of fair entertainment (e.g., dog show, pig race, tractor pull, demolition derby, rodeo) and ask your group to talk about family fun at the fair.
  • Fall Foliage Trip. Ask participants to describe an autumn drive on an Indian summer day. Collect several kinds of colorful leaves and ask participants to identify as many of the leaves as they can.



Enjoy a Halloween trivia quiz with your group. Serve pumpkin cookies for a treat! (Note: Several trivia questions are taken from the ElderSong resource Holiday Mind Joggers by Sandy Minor.)

  1. Which popular tri-colored Halloween candy is in the shape of a kernel? Candy corn
  2. When pumpkins are carved, they become what? Jack-o’-lanterns
  3. Who was the author of the horror story “The Pit and the Pendulum”? Edgar Allan Poe
  4. Jasper was known as what? The friendly ghost
  5. Which charity organization holds fundraisers for children at Halloween? UNICEF (Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF)
  6. A large, nocturnal bird with hooked claws and front-facing eyes is what? Owl
  7. A trick or practical joke played at Halloween is called what? Prank
  8. Which Peanuts Gang character gets rocks in his trick-or-treat bag? Charlie Brown (It’s the Great Pumpkin)
  9. This song, recorded in 1962 by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers, is still a Halloween favorite. “The Monster Mash”
  10. Boris Karloff played this popular monster in the 1931 film. Frankenstein

“AUTUMN SIGHTS AND SOUNDS” written by Sue Hansen. © 2007 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson