There's no better time to mix fun and learning in
the great outdoors than fall in Chicago. From leaves to pumpkins,
here are eight easy ideas to get you started:
Take a hike around your neighborhood and capture fall
images forever. At home, work with your tween to make a photobook
by teaching them to upload their photos onto any online
photo-sharing site (Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.) where they can be
arranged, printed and assembled into a pretty, bound memory
Check out: The Kids' Guide to Digital Photography: How to
Shoot, Save, Play With & Print Your Digital Photos by Jenni
Create a unique poem by listing everything we say goodbye
to as summer ends (such as, Goodbye lazy days! Goodbye swimming
pool!) and everything we welcome with the fall (such as, Welcome
hot apple cider! Welcome bright orange pumpkins!). Have each family
member contribute at least one line (Goodbye______, welcome
Check out: Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights: Poems about
Fall by Laura Purdie Salas.
Gather fall leaves of all shapes, sizes and colors. At
home, cover your ironing board with a rag. Place each leaf between
two sheets of wax paper. Cover the wax-papered leaves with a towel
and iron on the medium setting (no steam) for about seven seconds.
Cut out the individual leaves, leaving a small margin so they
remain sealed in the wax paper. Identify each leaf and use to
decorate your dinner table.
Check out: Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
or Trees of Illinois by Linda Kershaw.
As you explore, gather pine cones, pretty leaves, acorns,
twigs and any other natural objects. At home, create a garland by
tying the items to a string, spacing accordingly. You may want to
press the leaves in wax paper to better preserve them. Hang along a
stair railing or frame a large window.
Check out: It's Fall by Linda Glaser.
Glue a tree trunk cut from a large brown paper bag onto a
large poster board. Gather a cluster of colorful leaves. Using a
Sharpie, have everyone write something they are thankful for on
each leaf. Glue the leaves onto your "tree." This can be a great
Check out: Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora.
North Park Nature Center in Chicago offers family kayak or
canoe trips on Lake Michigan, Jackson Park Lagoon and along the
Chicago River for age 8 and up. Equipment and instruction are
provided. Visit ChicagoParkDistrict.com for more
Check out: The Canoe Trip Mystery by Gertrude Warner.
On Oct. 8-9, families can undertake a Journey on the
Underground Railroad at Graue Mill in Oak Brook. Experience what it
was like to be a "passenger" on escaped slaves' "railroad" to
freedom. Meet Harriet Tubman and follow Hinsdale blacksmith John
Coe as you are guided along Salt Creek and into the mill, which
once served as a "station." Call (630) 655-2090 for details or to
reserve your space or visit grauemill.org.
Check out: The Underground Railroad: An Interactive History
Adventure (You Choose Books) by Allison
Before you carve your pumpkins, play a family guessing
game and estimate the number of seeds in each pumpkin. Then dig
them out and count. Who was the best estimator? Afterwards, roast
your seeds on a well olive-oiled tray and bake for about 15 minutes
at 400 degrees.
Check out: Can You Guess? (Rookie Read-About Math)
by Brian Sargent or From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy
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