(I wrote this post a couple of years ago, but as the leaves are just starting to turn a tiny bit today, I thought I'd repost. Enjoy!)
Autumn is definitely here in East Tennessee, in spite of temperatures in the 80s. The driveway is covered with leaves and the first hints of fall color are showing up in the trees. Because the Smokies get tons of visitors in autumn, the question is always: what kind of fall color will we have this year? The happy fact is that even in years, like last year, when the prediction is that we'll have a "low color" year, autumn is gorgeous around here.
In celebration of this perfect season, I thought I'd share some of my favorite resources for fall. Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins is by far our favorite leaf book. After a brief discussion about leaf characteristics and why leaves change color, Robbins shows the reader leaf colors from trees across the country, with close-up photographs of leaves as well as photos of whole trees for easy identification. This book spans several ages. The text is simple enough for preschoolers but not too simplistic for middle readers. I think it's just a great guide book.
For preschoolers and early elementary children, Lois Elhert's Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf is an explosion of beautiful, rich color. The book traces the life of a sugar maple from seed to sapling. Kids will want to get out craft supplies and make leaf collages after reading this one.
The Let's Read and Find Out Science series has a good resource book, Why Do Leaves Change Colors? for young readers (preschool/early elementary). It's simple, with good detailed illustrations of leaves and a couple of easy craft ideas.
I've always loved authors Gail Gibbons and Anne Rockwell for probably ages 3-6. Both authors have a voice I appreciate; they don't talk down to children or dumb down their explanations. Gibbons The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree, which takes the reader through the changes in an apple tree though the seasons, was one of our favorite autumn books. We also enjoyed Rockwell's colorful Apples and Pumpkins. Perhaps my favorite preschool pumpkin book, however, is Jeanne Titherington's Pumpkin Pumpkin. I bought this books at a lovely toy store called The Pumpkin Patch in Ames, Iowa, where we lived when Jesse was a preschooler. I love the gentle colored pencil drawings and the little boy who looked so much like my own child.
Here are a few more books that look wonderful. I'll be looking for at least a couple of these at our library:
Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic
Fall Is Here!
I Know It's Autumn
When Autumn Comes
You can do a search for "fall crafts" or "autumn crafts" and get tons of ideas for various age levels. My younger children are 7 and 11, so we have moved away from coloring pages and handprint crafts for the most part. This year we'll be doing:
Nature Luminary Candle Holders
Melted Crayon Stained Glass Windows
The sites below have lots of great activities and ideas for enjoying autumn. I especially love the ideas at Easy Fun School.• Easy Fun School:
• Autumn Science
• Autumn unit study at Seven Pillars Book Nook
• Lots of great fall activities at Enchanted Learning
• Fall Leaf Guide is an easy guide to identifying trees by the color and shape of foliage; the chemistry, physics and geometry of fall color; and more. Sounds complicated, but the explanations are very short and sweet. This guide highlights Tennessee trees but can be used wherever seasons change.
Of course, most importantly, get out and play in the leaves!