The apples are ripe for the picking, the chrysanthemums are blooming, the acorns are falling, the leaves are beginning to show a hint of color – yes, autumn is in the air. The fall season is a good time for your group to share some of their favorite changes in nature. The activities suggested below are designed to rekindle memories as nature puts on its annual “art show.”
- AUTUMN CHANGES: Ask participants to describe why autumn is often called a season of change. Ask: Do you enjoy autumn? What is happening in nature in the fall? What changes do you like, in particular? What are some of your favorite outdoor activities in the fall?
- NATURE PHOTOS: Pass around fall nature photos and ask each participant to choose a favorite scene. Ask: What’s going on in the photo? Where do you think the photo was taken? Do you see any hint of fall color? What do you like about the picture?
- DECORATING: Hold a fall decorating contest, using natural items such as pumpkins/gourds, grapevines, wheat stalks, Indian corn, crab apples, nuts, acorns, pine cones, chrysanthemums, small hay bales, corn husks.
- WALKING: Share reflections on the following quotation by John Muir, July 1877: “But in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Share memories of a walk on a cool, crisp day in the heart of the autumn season.
- WINTER PREP: Talk about how local wildlife get ready for winter (examples: gray squirrels bury nuts in the ground, deer find a mate, Canadian geese migrate south, black bears find a den). Share animal folklore related to the fall and winter seasons.
- MUSIC: Autumn songs – “Autumn in New York,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Shine On, Harvest Moon,” “September Song.”
- ART PROJECT: Pass out adult coloring pages related to the season. Encourage the use of vibrant fall colors – red, yellow, orange shades (and a hint of purple). Display the finished products.
- FALL FOLIAGE: Plan an imaginary fall foliage trip to the state of Colorado, known for its beautiful aspen trees. Map out scenic drives for the best leaf watching.
- CRAFT PROJECT: Make autumn leaf rubbings, decorate pumpkins/gourds using tempera paints, weave wheat stalks, make paper mums, or assemble a corn husk and acorn wreath.
- FALL WEATHER: Share memories of unusual fall weather – surprise snowstorm in October, very early first frost, extreme hurricane, extended Indian summer. Check The Old Farmer’s Almanac for this fall’s weather predictions.
- SOUNDS: List and imitate fall outdoor sounds: Canadian geese honking, bonfire crackling, tractors harvesting crops, nuts dropping off trees, buzz of insects, leaves rustling, football crowds yelling.
- POETRY: Read the famous ode, “To Autumn,” written in 1819 by English poet John Keats. Ask the group to share some of their favorite images of fall from the poem. What attitude toward change and passing beauty does Keats have?
- SKY GAZERS: Find out what autumn constellations will be on display in the night sky and when the harvest moon will appear. Sing “Shine On, Harvest Moon.”
- DRAMA: Pass around photos of adults, teens, and children engaging in familiar fall activities such as picking pumpkins, harvesting a corn crop, raking leaves into a big pile, plucking apples from the local orchard, playing a football game. Ask the group to choose a photo and try to come up with a brief skit based on the picture. Ask questions like these: What brought these people together? What is their relationship? What were each of them saying during the moment captured in the picture? Just before or immediately after that moment?
- HARVEST: Invite a local farm family to talk about harvest time – including tools, equipment, farm crops, chores, etc. Read the famous poem “When the Frost is on the Punkin” by James Whitcomb Riley. Sample local fall fruits.
AUTUMN TRIVIA QUIZ
- What’s another name for Indian corn? Maize
- What kind of trees loses its leaves once a year in the fall? Deciduous
- When does the autumnal equinox occur? September 23
- What is a harvest moon? Full moon closest to the autumnal equinox
- What type of revered butterfly migrates south during the fall? Monarch
- Name some varieties of apple. Gala, Grimes Golden, Macintosh, Red Delicious (other answers are possible)
- What type of tree do acorns fall from? Oak
- Which fall fruit grows in a bog? Cranberry
- Name the parts of field corn. Stalk, cob, kernels, husk
- Name some types of game birds. Quail, pheasant, wild turkey, ruffed grouse
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus
“Autumn: Nature’s Way” was written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2015 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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