What is the Fall Equinox?
Also called the Autumnal or September equinox, the fall equinox marks the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and occurs on September 22 this year. Derived from the Latin term for “equal night,” the equinox marks one of two days throughout the year when the sun shines directly on the equator, making the length of day and night approximately equal.
While the end of summer can spark disappointment for some (especially some of our school-aged kiddos), fall can bring some of the best and most beautiful outdoor adventures. Between the cooling temperatures, the changing colors, and the harvest activities, there are plenty of ways to welcome fall. Check out these activities, crafts, and books to help you celebrate the coming of fall with your family.
- Go on a “signs of fall” family hike: Encourage your kiddos to search for changes in plant life that signify the start of fall such as leaf color, an abundance of mushrooms and other fungi, acorns and pinecones on the ground, etc. The air may also smell different due to these changes along with the blooming of fall flowers such as mums and chrysanthemums. Look up and you may see birds starting to migrate to warmer climates. Listen closely to hear the mating calls of bats, elk, and other animals.
- Visit an orchard or pumpkin patch: Nothing says fall quite like taking advantage of the ripening of fall harvest plants such as apples and pumpkins. Create a family tradition by visiting a nearby pick-your-own apple orchard or pumpkin patch each year.
- Create a fall nature table: Creating a space where your kids can place items that remind them of fall is a great way to kick-off the season! It can be as small or big as you want, and the items that you place on it can vary widely. You can include leaves of different shapes and colors, acorns or “helicopter” seeds, fall crafts (see below), etc. Or better yet, following principles of “leave no trace”, you can take photos of these items in nature to include on your table.
- Leaf Crafts: Take advantage of the gorgeous leaf colors while also teaching kids a lesson on chlorophyll and the life cycle of a leaf. Don’t live in an area with an abundance of leaf change? You can also make these crafts with fake leaves found at a craft store.
- Acorn cap and marble necklace/ornament: With the vast amount of fallen acorns this time of year, creating jewelry and ornaments are fun and easy ways to recycle their caps. For this craft project, you just need acorn caps, colorful marbles, string/twine, and a glue gun (a drill is optional) to create gorgeous jewelry and ornaments.
- Pine Cone Pets: Pine cones can be used in numerous craft projects. For this project, all you need are pinecones, googly eyes, a glue gun and any other craft scraps you may have lying around (such as felt or pipe cleaners). Have your kids design their own “pets” and place them around the house as fun fall décor.
Fall Books to Read
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” These beautifully illustrated books help children of all ages understand what happens as summer turns to fall and the plants shed their leaves as the days get shorter.
Birth – 3 years
- Leaves By: David Ezra SteinFollow a young bear as he experiences his first autumn in this charming tale of fall. Bear is worried when he notices all the leaves falling off the trees. He attempts to reattach them to no avail. He gets so tired that he falls into a deep hibernation sleep. What will he find when he wakes up?
- Because of an Acorn By: Lola M. Schaefer and Adam SchaeferCaptivating illustrations show the important connections within an ecosystem. Young children can learn how every tree, flower, plant, and animal connect to one another in the forest.
- Apples and Pumpkins By Anne Rockwell
Join a little girl as she enjoys a lovely fall day picking apples and searching for the perfect pumpkin. This book is available in both a board book version for the youngest readers and a longer version for preschoolers.
4 Years and Up
- Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, By Kenard Pak
Join a young girl as she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn. Through a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind she encounters, she greets all the signs of the coming season while on a walk through forest and town.
- We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, By Steve Metzger
Follow three friends on a hike over a mountain and through a forest as they collect leaves of all kinds and colors. The easy rhyming text and fun sound effects make this rollicking autumn story fun for all ages.
- Leaf Man, By Lois Ehlert
Join the narrator as they imagine where the leaf man may travel as he blows along with the wind. The die-cut pages reveal gorgeous landscape vistas and aide in sparking a child’s imagination while celebrating the beauty of autumn.
How does your family celebrate the Fall Equinox? Let us know in the comments below!
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Photography by Ashley Scheider and Amy Diebold.