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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

10 nature related activities to do this fall season

Autumn is a beautiful season full of festivities. You can do so many different things with kids during this season. I started out thinking I will be able to, may be, pick 10 of my favorite things to do in fall and make a post out of it. But I soon realized that there is so much to do especially on the natural front that I should just stick to nature related activities in this post and list all the others in a different one. Readers outside of US may not be able to do some of these things but some of the information might be equally interesting to you and your kids. So here we go, here are 10 fun nature related activities to do this fall.

1)      Everything Pumpkin: When you think of fall, the first thing that comes to your mind is Pumpkins. You can go pumpkin picking and may be even catch a harvest festival at the same time in a farm near you. You can carve a pumpkin or just paint one or put stickers on it, if you have young kids. Or take it up a notch and try to grow a pumpkin inside a pumpkin. Cut the top of a pumpkin, add some potting soil and water it. We had a lot of fun doing that last year. Just remember to make some holes at the bottom for the water to drain, so your pumpkin will last longer. Wish I thought about that last year.
2)      Look for Monarchs: Depending on where you live, you can witness the legendry 2500 Mile long migration of Monarch butterflies between September and early January. We visited a natural Monarch habitat near Santa Barbara, CA last year and it was spectacular. You can follow the Monarch journey online and hopefully find a spot near you to witness this wonder of nature.

3)      Look for Milkweed plants: During our recent playdate, my friend Maya Hagege- Sinderbrand, an expert in holistic nutrition and organic gardener extraordinaire, introduced us to a milkweed plant. She was kind enough to even share a recent picture of milkweed in her garden for this post.
      This plant is an eco-system in itself. It is a home to many different spectacular bugs and most importantly a hatching ground for Monarch butterflies. My son spent a long time intrigued by this plant and the many different bugs he spotted on it. Here is a book we found at the library about milkweed and Monarch life cycle. My son loves this book.
4)      Visit a corn maze: Corn mazes can be so much fun for the kids to run around at. If you go pumpkin picking, chances are, there will be a corn maze there. If the farm lets you taste a fresh corn it tastes great even when it is raw. The corn husk can be dried a bit and you can make many fun crafts with it.
5)      Collect various leaves: You can find leaves of different colors and shapes even during a quick walk around your neighborhood. We find some or the other fall leaves even here in Los Angeles. If you have a backyard, let your little once rake the leaves with a little rake. I am not claiming it can be a great help but they will have fun nonetheless. If you find a pile of dried leaves, let them walk, jump or crawl in it. It is a great multi-sensory experience. My son loves creating art by keeping a leaf under a paper and rubbing a crayon on the paper. This forms the pattern of the leaf veins on the paper, this is known as leaf rubbing. Here is a book we really like. We try to collect leaves and see if any of them match the ones in the book.

6)      Collect Acorns: Acorns are another treasure kids can collect during fall season. Acorns can be painted on to make many different decorative crafts. They make really cool stamps. If you live in California or other south western states of USA, look for Acorn Woodpeckers when you are around acorns. These birds make holes in large trees to save lots of acorns to last them during winter. You might be able to spot some as early as October. We saw these birds and the holes they made in large Oak trees during our camping trip to Lake Cachuma this summer and it is quite a sight.

7)      Collect pine cones: Pine cones can be fun to collect and you can do many different crafts with the kids using those. And if you are around Pine trees you can surely spot squirrels. It is quite interesting to watch a squirrel diligently break open the cone to get to the seeds.

8)      Look for hummingbirds: All though most hummingbird species in North America are spotted during spring and summer there are many fall migrants that can be spotted in southern states. We spotted one in our court yard only yesterday. If you are in states like Georgia you can see many different type of hummingbirds all the way into winter. You can also track the hummingbirds online. I love to watch my mesmerized son when he is looking at hummingbirds as much as I enjoy watching the hummingbird. Check out my Little Green post for a book about a little boy and a hummingbird.
9)      Go Apple Picking: It is really fun to go apple picking and enjoy the smell of apples in the air. You can have fun making apple pie or apple butter with the kids after you bring back all those apples home. If you still have some left, cut them in half and use them to make stamps to do art with kids.
10)     Go Whale watching: If you are near the coast like me, fall is a great time to witness these majestic wonders of nature. If you can’t go in person you can track their migration activity online.
So what do you plan to do this Fall?