Outdoor Classroom


Heading out into nature in the crisp October air with the family is a great way to soak up the colorful autumn season and enjoy the outdoors before cold weather sets in.  A walk in the woods, fields or even a city park gives children an opportunity to witness the changing landscape up close.  It’s also a great way to come together after a busy school and work week.


The best part about an afternoon or weekend jaunt is that you don’t need special equipment–just some jackets, water and snacks.  You can encourage your children to bring along autumn journals and crayons so they can record their observations and make leaf rubbings, and small paper bags for storing treasures they find along the way.  Once home, your children can use these finds as craft materials.


Of course, if you have a yard full of deciduous trees and a yard full of leaves that need raking, there are plenty of ways to play away an autumn day at home:

  • Walk a leafy labyrinth:  When leaves cover the lawn, rake a twisting pathway through them.  Encourage older children to copy a classic maze for extra credit.
  • Find a lollipop.  Hide a wrapped lollipop under a leaf pile.  The first one to find it keeps it.
  • Preserve a leaf.  Bring a mixture of two parts water and one part glycerin (available in most pharmacies) to a boil in a saucepan.   Pour the solution into a heat-proof container. Drop in a few brightly-colored leaves and gently submerge with a wooden spoon.  Keep the container in a cool, dark place until there is a slight change in the leaves’ tints. Gently remove the leaves and blot dry with a paper towel.  Instead of turning brown and crumbly, the leaves will retain their brilliant hues—a wonderful way to preserve autumn’s beauty through the long winter months!