Let the Peeping Begin!

Fall Colors with the Family
  |  Gorp.com

If you're lucky enough to live in the shade of deciduous trees, there's hardly any show as spectacular as fall.

Here in New England, we're smack in the heart of Leaf-Peeping Central. This time of year we have to watch for tour buses whizzing down the road, shuffling crowds between Walden Pond and Vermont.

Cyber Leaf Patrol
Keep tabs on the best foliage around the country with these useful sites:

Fall Color Hotline - The U.S. Forest Service fall color Web site.

Autumn in Adirondack Park - For the Adirondack, New York, report.

Minnesota DNR - What's leafing in Minnesota.

But it's no wonder that tourists flock to the Northeast. Every October brilliant red, yellow, and orange leaves pile up in the yard, prompting my son and husband—now joined by our twin toddlers—to run down our back hill and throw themselves into a heap of nature's confetti.

I did the same sort of leaf-jumping when I was a kid, and your family no doubt does, too, if you have the right trees around.

Here are a few more fun fall suggestions.

Don't Be Leafed Out! Family Foliage Activities

Scavenger Hunt
Last fall my son's kindergarten teacher sent home a simple homework assignment that was a lot of fun: a fall scavenger hunt. The students had to find various objects, including a red leaf, a yellow leaf, a pine cone, an acorn. For older kids, such a hunt can involve finding specific leaves, such as maples, elms, oaks.

Leaf Rubbings
Here's another simple activity with appeal to kids of many ages. Place a leaf, underside up, on top of a table. Cover it with a piece of paper and gently rub over the leaf and paper with a crayon or piece of chalk. Try different leaves to get different impressions. Older kids can incorporate these leaf rubbings into their own pictures or designs.

Leaf Printing
Use leaves to decorate your own stationery or illustrations. Paint one side of a leaf. Press the painted side onto a piece of paper you want to decorate. Cover the leaf with another sheet of paper and apply firm pressure. Use different leaves and colors as desired.

Leafy Books for Kids & Families
Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall. Scholastic, ages 4-8. A brand new book on autumn leaves. I Am a Leaf (Hello Reader, Science, Level 1) by Jean Marzollo. Cartwheel Books, ages 4-7. A nifty book for your budding reader. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, ages 3-7. In this book, Ehlert, one of my favorite children's creators, traces the life of a maple tree from seed to maturity in her signature lively collages. The text is informative and fun, and includes instructions for planting your own maple tree. Trees by Linda Gamlin. DK Eyewitness Explorers, Dorling Kindersley, ages 7-12. A handy little guidebook, heavy with useful photos and diagrams that explains everything from roots to rain forests. Includes a variety of simple activity suggestions. Trees: Tree Identification by Leaf, Bark & Seed by Steven M. L. Aronson. Fandex Family Field Guides, all ages. Take this handy fan-shaped field guide out on all your family walks and hikes, and everyone can join in the tree identifying. A must for every tree-loving family.

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Article and photo © Alice Cary

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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