Autumn’s here – which means a sensory delight for kids and grown-ups of all ages as the leaves change colours and shiny conker treasures nestle in the grass. Get ready to embrace the changing of the seasons and have fun too with these autumnal ideas for after school.
You’ll need: no prep required.
Drop the school bags at home, pull on your wellies, and go for a sensory walk. Tell the kids you’re going for an adventure to leave any school worries behind, then guide them to take in their surroundings in as much detail as possible. What can they hear? What noise do the leaves make underfoot? What does the tree bark feel like? What about the cold air? Encourage them to point out sights and sounds that interest them. This activity is brilliant for diverting their attention from a busy day and towards a mindfulness practice the whole family can enjoy.
You’ll need: pine/fir cones, paints, paint brushes, paper.
Forget the oft-prescribed outcomes of school art sessions, process art is a brilliant way to develop creative thinking and pinecone painting is a fun and sensory way to get those creative juices flowing this Autumn. Line up pinecones alongside bright paints, brushes and paper, then let your kids experiment with the results. Show them how to make interesting prints by rolling the cones on paper or adding string to make the most autumnal decoration you can hang.
You’ll need: homemade Playdough, leaves, conkers, twigs, pinecones and other nature finds.
Play-doh is always a winner. Make the most of Autumn by creating your own no-cook dough (recipe below), and combining it with seasonal extras that allow your child to experiment with different textures and colours. Lay out a ball of play-doh and a side of crunchy leaves, conkers, twigs and pinecones and invite them to make a favourite animal or a self-portrait with the goodies.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, baby oil or coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- 1 to 1.5 cups boiling water (add in increments until the texture feels right)
- 1 tablespoon of allspice or cinnamon
You’ll need: leaves, paper, crayons/chalk.
If you’re looking for a calm at-home activity, collect dry leaves and set them out with white/pastel papers and colourful crayons or chalk. Show your child how to place a leaf under paper and then rub over it with colour to create a lovely leaf print.
Counting with Conkers
You’ll need: conkers, paper, pens.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of collecting conkers with your kids – it always brings such joy as they uncover hidden treasures nestled in the grass. But you can increase the engagement with an easy maths activity. Draw trees on paper with an age-appropriate sum or number labelled on the trunk. It’s your child’s job to place the right number of conkers within the treetop. For each number they get correct, they get to keep the conkers.
Paper plate Hedgehogs
You’ll need: dry leaves, paper plate, glue, pens or paints.
Make your own autumn pal with this easy craft activity. Cut a paper plate in half and place it on the table curved side at the top, straight side at the bottom. Next, cover the plate in dried leaves to create his spiky coat. Make sure to keep one end of the plate blank to paint or colour with a friendly face. Add a googly eye for a playful finish.
You’ll need: sticky-back plastic, tape, dry leaves.
Create a beautiful autumn decoration for your windows with these easy-to-make suncatchers. Tape up a large square of sticky-back plastic on a window with the adhesive side facing out. Set up a basket of dry leaves and some scissors to cut them into different shapes, then invite your child to create their own mosaic suncatchers.
Hand & Fingerprint tree
You’ll need: paper, pencil, paint.
Feeling brave? Try this messy paint activity and get ready for giggles. First, set up a large piece of paper and a selection of autumnal coloured paint. Next, ask your child to lay their hand and arm (palm down) on the paper and draw around with a pencil to create branches (fingers) and a tree trunk (arm). Paint this in with brown paint then show your kids how to add leaves with colourful fingerprinting. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a splodge or two on you.
Which of these activities will you be trying this Autumn? We’d love to see pics of the fun in action so don’t forget to tag us on social media with your highlights!