Fall in Michigan can be beautiful. I will admit Ann Arbor can’t hold a candle to the Susquehanna Valley, where I used to see colors blaze on the mountains along the river, but still, the colors are lovely. And so for October, our family fun activities are all about leaves.
1. We eat a lot of leaves. Have a scavenger hunt in the grocery store to see how many different kinds of edible leaves you can find. Of course the produce aisle is the obvious place to start, but think about where else leaves may appear. The spice aisle? Are there leaves in cans or jars? Pick a few leaves you’ve never tried before and see which ones you like best.
2. Try some leaf experiments. In this one a bit of coffee filter and nail polish remover help reveal the secret of leaves’ changing autumn colors. If you live in a place where plants are still green in October, try this experiment see what happens to a leaf when you block the sun. Or see how much water a leaf releases in just one week.
3. How about some leaf art? You can try leaf collages or shaving cream painted leaves with younger children. Or with older students, try spray-paint leaf art that could be an addition to your permanent home décor. Take photos of leaves—green or multicolored, they all are beautiful. But if you really want to be inspired, check out the amazing carved leaves by Spanish artist Lorenzo Durán. You might want to explore his website to see videos of the way the leaves are created. Think about how you might use leaves to create a new kind of art.
4. Imagine how amazing the display of brilliant autumn leaves must have appeared to the first peoples living in Michigan. The Wyandot (Huron) people had a legend tying the multicolored leaves to Bear’s blood. Think about how you might explain the changing leaves before we understood chlorophyll and leaf biology. Invent a new legend that fits autumn in your part of the world.
5. If you are fortunate enough to live where leaves fall, invent some leaf games. Jump in piles of leaves. Come up with rules for a leaf race or leaf tag. If you are very clever, invent a game that results in the leaves ending up in a pile and save yourself some raking! If you don’t have leaves on the ground, create a leaf dance. Imagine the feelings of a leaf falling and show the world. Fall is a wonderful time for dancing.
Bonus Tip: I admit that I enjoy silly camp songs. For those of who celebrate Halloween (or just like monsters), some of the silliest can be found in Sipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters. Kelly DiPucchio has taken traditional campfire songs and given them a monster twist. Imagine “favorites” like, “Home, Home of the Strange,” “If You’re Scary and You Know It” or “Do Your Guts Hang Low?” This is perfect inspiration for your own songs. Pick a favorite tune and create a monster version. We’d love to read it here!