Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Activities for Kids

Autumn Activities for Kids

So summer has drawn to a close, and the nights are drawing in. As the weather turns colder in these darkening months, check out our top ten ways to entertain the kids by celebrating all things autumn.

Comfort cooking
Soup Image Credit
Getting kids in the kitchen is a great way to teach them culinary skills, and working with seasonal ingredients will help them appreciate where food comes from. Autumn is a fruitful season, with an array of berries and vegetables ripe and ready for eating. Cook up root vegetables in hearty soups and stews to stave off the chill in the air, roast chestnuts and seeds as healthy snacks for nibbling between meals or bake wholesome fruit pies and crumbles to warm the cockles of your heart. Sweet pumpkin pies and toffee apples are perfect sweet treats, and why not add squash or sweet potato to your favourite brownie recipe? If you want something simple and quick, add some marshmallows to hot chocolate for a beverage to brighten up the greyest day.

Blackberry picking
Blackberry Picking
Blackberry Picking Image Credit
Kids will love collecting these plump, purple berries, which are rich in vitamins and full of juicy flavour. Wild fruits are easy to find in the countryside if you keep your eyes peeled, but be careful of the thorns. Make sure you wear some old clothes, as the richly-coloured juices will stain hands as well as whatever you're wearing. The berries ripen in early autumn and should come off the plant easily when pulled, but it's not advisable to eat them after the end of September, as they're past their best by then. Wash well and use to make refreshing cordial or delicious desserts.

Make jam
Jam Making
Jam Making Image Credit
Take advantage of the season’s glut of fruits by making preserves, which can be poured over ice cream or spread on hot buttered toast. Sweet, sticky and economical, kids can't wait to get involved in this messy enterprise, but make sure all hands are washed first! Use fruit that's high in pectin if you want a jelly texture - try blackcurrants, plums, gooseberries, damsons or cranberries - or use jam sugar, which has pectin added. Get the kids to squish the fruit into a smooth mush, then add sugar and lemon juice and simmer for ten minutes for quick and easy syrup that will keep for weeks in sterlised jars.

Leaf crafts
Leaves Image Credit
Autumn is a month resplendent with the magnificent colours of falling leaves. They're fun to kick through when they're swept into piles, but they're also perfect for creating some seasonal artwork. Get your young explorers to gather a selection of different shapes and sizes and use wax crayons and plain paper to make leaf rubbings. Or sandwich them between waxed paper and iron over them to create unique preserved leaf decorations. Or why not just make leaf collages using paper, glue and a selection of fallen foliage in reds, oranges and yellows.

Conkers Image Credit
Relive your childhood by hosting a family conker championship. This traditional game is a great way to indulge in some good, old-fashioned fun. Collect an assortment of the horse-chestnut seeds and drill a hole in the hardest specimens with a nail or screwdriver. Thread them onto a piece of string or shoelace and knot in place. Competitive challengers can harden their conkers by baking them or soaking them in vinegar, although die-hard enthusiasts consider this to be cheating.

Nature journal
Nature Journal Sample
Nature Journal Sample Image Credit
Foster your child's creativity by encouraging them to record the change of season in a notebook. Get them to jot down notes each day on weather, special events, findings, observations and descriptions of plants. They can also include illustrations, sketches, photos, poetry, leaves and pressed flowers. Kids will love discovering the details of nature and the finished book will make a beautiful keepsake full of memories to be cherished.

Create harvest festival decorations
Harvested Vegetables
Harvest Vegetables Image Credit
Celebrate the wealth of food that autumn provides in this rustic rural festivity. Kids can create a woodland basket full of natural treasures, such as pine cones, twigs, dried fruit, nuts, pumpkins and squashes, dried flowers, grasses, acorns, leaves and seed heads. It will make a charming centre-piece to any family dinner table. Make candle-holders out of cored apples, or have a go at making traditional corn-dollies by weaving together dried stalks of wheat or corn.

Decorate a pumpkin
Jack-O-Lanterns Image Credit
Making Jack-O-Lanterns is a traditional Halloween pastime, in which pumpkins are hollowed and carved into gruesome faces to decorate homes and front porches. You can give the kids a hand cutting monstrous grimaces into these spooky fruit, or simply paint them with blackboard paint and chalk pens to avoid the risky use of sharp knives. Add stickers, stencils or pins to embellish your strange and scary characters, then pop a candle inside for the full frightening effect.

Make your own Guy
Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes Image Credit
Mark the magic of Bonfire Night by constructing your very own Guy Fawkes. Much like a scarecrow, these effigies are traditionally cobbled together using bundles of rags and straw, and can be as scruffy and silly as you want. Use old clothes and tights to build the body by stuffing them with wads of crumpled paper. Try using a pumpkin or a cabbage as a head, wool or string for hair and top with a comical hat. Pop the finished figure in a wheelbarrow and sit him on your front lawn to frighten the neighbours.

Make a Diwali lamp
Lanterns Image Credit
This Hindu festival falls in October, and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people's homes. It's a time of year for exchanging gifts of sweets or dried fruit, and decorating houses with lanterns. Why not make your very own lamp from brightly-coloured card? Fold an A4 piece lengthways and make a sharp crease, then cut into the folded edge all the way along to create slits. Unfold and roll into a circular shape, gluing along the edges, then use a piece of thread to hang them in your window.

Autumn Activities for Kids was produced on behalf of Legoland Holidays; helping you to entertain your kids with cheap legoland tickets.



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