‘Tis the season for leaf-raking, craft-making, and adventure-taking

display of a pinecone chestnut fall leaves and a deer made from acorns and sticks

Painter Marc Chagall once said, “Great art picks up where nature ends.” Nature also produces great art supplies in every season, but the seeds, pods, and stems of fall really stand out. Make collecting them just one fun fall “bucket list” outing of many!

The seeds of masterpieces

Helping kids harvest seeds for crafting, cooking, or gardening is a wonderful way to teach life cycles and more.

three photos side by side close up of two hands holding pinecones two hands holding acorns and a variety of colorful fall leaves

Pine cones are super awesome—not just for crafts but for the “job” they do for their parent pine trees and the next generation. According to Scientific American, pine cones “keep pine tree seeds safe, and protect them from the freezing temperatures during the winter!” They can “close their ‘scales’ tightly” to keep out cold, wind, ice, and even animals that might eat the seeds.

They last a long time too, making them good for making reusable decorations. The DIY Candy blog posted "Pine Cone Crafts for Kids: 25 of the Cutest Ideas,"  which also includes easy ways to remove sap. They suggest laying out pine cones on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet and popping in an oven set to pre-heat at 200° to remove sap and (possible) bugs or washing them with a water-vinegar mix.

Acorns are the nuts of oak trees and their relatives and usually contain a single seed. Kiddle posted “Acorn Facts for Kids,” says that jays and squirrels “scatter-hoard acorns in caches for future use” and usually have really good “mental maps" of where they hide them so they can go back later and munch them, they do occasionally forget where they put them or just don’t make it back. Some of those acorns will grow into trees.

foreground of fall leaves that have turned orange with a tree and a squirrel eating a nut in the background

Annoying as they can be in the yard, acorns also make great crafts! The Hello, Wonderful blog shares “12 Adorable Acorn Crafts.” They include directions for an acorn squirrel with pipe cleaner tail that turns it into an ornament for hanging and woodland acorn fairies made out of acorns and a pine cone.

Pumpkins start showing up everywhere this time of year, and Inspired Taste offers excellent instructions for rinsing and roasting pumpkin and other kinds of squash seeds for a healthy snack.

Fall color palette is like no other

Take kids for a walk, a drive, or a sit-still at the beach and let them compete to find the brightest tree, coolest “sky art,” or the strangest mushroom or lichen.

Fall colors are unbeatable showstoppers. Of course, there are the leaves and trees iconic of the season. When days grow shorter, leaves stop making food, and their green changes to yellow, orange, or red, depending on the tree.

photo of a bright blue and pink sky above fall trees

But fall sunsets are special too, often more spectacular than any other time of year. The blazing colors result from changing patterns of wind and clouds as well as the sun’s different angle. Ever-shifting pinks, reds, oranges, and purples can produce oohs and ahs that rival Fourth of July fireworks.

As one fall show takes place overhead, others pop up on the ground. Walk in the woods after a fall rain, and find fungi of all kinds that sprang up overnight, ranging from white to bright blue and yellow, to brilliant red, and even polka-dotted! 

Make a family fall bucket list of must-do fun
four photos of fall activities-kids in a pumpkin patch kids playing in fall leaves on the ground child in an apple orchard picking an apple father and kids walking through a corn maze

Nadine Jolie Courtney and Jane Burnett compiled for Oprah Daily, “65 Fun Activities to Try This Year, Including Apple Picking.” It includes classic fall forays and activities for both kids and grown-ups such as yes, apple-picking but also making candy apples, going on a hayride, visiting a pumpkin patch, jumping in a pile of leaves, and getting lost in a corn maze. Their list also suggests making s’mores over a campfire or going zip-lining. On a day when the weather isn’t cooperating, try cutting out construction paper leaves. These directions from mmmcrafts remain easy and timeless!

And care.com offers up “101 Fun Fall Activities for Kids.” They too, include some classic fall fun but also a link for doing colorful leaf rubbings and ideas such as “eat mooncakes while moon gazing after learning about the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival,” and “go on a color walk, gathering outside ‘treasures’ in yellow, orange, red, and brown.” One of their sweetest and simplest ideas? “Take a thermos of hot chocolate on an early-morning hike.”

three kids on a fall hick climbing on a large boulder with trees that have changed color in the background behind them

While on that hike encourage kids to describe the sights and sounds they are seeing and hearing. Are leaves crunching and crackling? Is the air crisp? The woods more silent than in summer?

Maybe help them write a sensory-rich poem about fall!

All in all, it is an incredible time for doing, observing, and learning.