Fall has officially started and now there are countless opportunities for themed seasonal activities with the kids.
Fall colors, scents and flavors delight the senses, while nature provides many fun treasures like chestnuts, acorns, and leaves, often filling up little pockets.
Here are 4 toddler-friendly activities that will teach them about nature, develop their fine motor skills and most of all, give families the chance to have fun together.
1. Explorers in the park
During the fall, nature is fascinating for little explorers. Turn the regular walk in the park into an adventure that sparks their curiosity.
Before going out, discuss what seasonal changes your child expects to see outside. Talk about a familiar book or movie on the topic of seasons. When you are already out, discuss what the weather is like, what you see, hear and feel. Look for signs that show summer has ended and fall has begun.
Don’t keep your child away from the pile of leaves. This is a favorite sensory activity for many children. Take some time to be quiet and listen together to the sounds of the wind whistling in the trees and the leaves rustling under your shoes. Breath in deeply the distinct smell of fall.
Bring a bag to collect fall treasures from the park - sticks, leaves, chestnuts, pine cones, acorns and more. When you return home, look through the treasures together and discuss them. Ask questions like "Which animals eat acorns and pine cones?" or "What tree is this leaf from?". Take a closer look at the leaves and sort them by color, size and shape. You can also use the treasures to make an artistic collage.
Strolling in the park on a fall day is not only fun for kids, but also very beneficial for parents, because it's proven to improve health and reduce stress. According to studies, it makes us happier and more energized.
2. Leaf rubbing artists
There is no doubt that colored leaves are the symbol of fall. They brighten up the mood not only in the park but also at home. Leaf rubbingsare a very easy and effective arts and crafts idea, which children will be eager to try. For this project, you will need fallen leaves of different shapes and colors, paper, crayons or pencils.
Let your child collect some pretty leaves while you're out. Lay them on the table and talk about the collection. Then cover the leaves with a sheet of paper. You can use tape to better attach the leaves.
Choose a crayon or pencil of a suitable color (yellow, red, orange, brown, green) and start rubbing it on the paper above the hidden leaves. You will soon notice beautiful prints starting to appear!
In this way, you can make colorful combinations, and the main artists will be nature and your child. Your child will develop their fine motor skills and imagination while learning about the world around them.
3. Tree makers
Since leaves are in the spotlight in fall, we offer you another option to get creative with them. This time children use their hands to make fall handprint trees. What you need is paper, scissors, pencils, felt-tip pens or crayons.
Start with your child drawing a faint line around their hand and forearm. Assist if necessary. The handprint will become a tree, with the five fingers being five tree branches. The child then colors the tree or cuts it out and pastes it onto another sheet. Finally, make the leaves, using cut or crumpled colored paper, paint or simply real leaves.
4. Fall flavor bakers
No fall theme would be complete without seasonal fruits and vegetables. The season offers an abundance of culinary opportunities. Sweet and juicy fruits such as apples, pears, grapes or plums and vitamin-rich dishes with pumpkin, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, etc.
We’d like to offer you several recipes that are suitable for babies and toddlers and are a great alternative to processed carbs and sugar products. We strongly advise you to engage your child in the cooking process. Give them the task to pour and mix the ingredients, knead the dough or shape the cookies. This way they will work on their fine motor skills and grow a stronger liking for the nutritious food you've prepared.
Banana, pear and oat toddler cookies (no sugar)
Ingredients: 1 medium sized banana, 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup grated pear, 4 tbsp. fruit juice or water, 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed, 2 tsp. cinnamon
Instructions: Heat the oven to 180°C. Mash the banana with a fork. Mix well the mashed banana, oats, pear, ground flaxseed, cinnamon and water/juice. Spread the mixture on a greased tray or baking paper, using a spoon to form cookie-shaped balls. Gently press each cookie with the bottom of a glass to flatten it slightly. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until golden brown.
If you'd like the cookies to be slightly sweeter, add a spoonful of honey or raisins. It's preferable to use rolled oats because they are more nutritious, but you can replace them with fine oats for easier chewing.
Pumpkin pancakes for baby and toddler
Ingredients: 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup flour (white or whole wheat), 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. salt, 2-3 tbsp. milk or water, cooking oil
Instructions: In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the pumpkin puree. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until everything is well incorporated. Finally, add the milk/water one spoon at a time. When the pan is hot enough, pour 1 tbsp. of the batter into the pan to make small pancakes.
"This publication was created with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Health and Social Development Foundation and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this publication reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria."