Top Ten Autumn Activities for Babies and Toddlers
We’re very pleased to be welcoming back Cathy James* from the Nurturestore blog with this Parent Panel post full of Autumn inspiration for half term.
At this time of year every journey seems to take twice as long because there are so many interesting things to pick up on the way. Colourful leaves, acorns and conkers are natural treasures for babies and toddlers to discover, and we love collecting some to use in our play or to craft with when we get home. The natural objects add an extra sensory element to our toys and teach the children so much about the world around them.
Here are some of our favourite ways to use them, and I’d love to hear how you celebrate Autumn with your kids too.
Top ten ways to enjoy autumn with babies and toddlers:
1. An autumn walk can provide a brand new sensory experience for babies and toddlers. See if you can find a tree with falling leaves for you baby to sit under and watch the show, or pop on some wellies and head out with your toddler for a crunch through the piles of leaves. Feel the smooth texture of conkers and hear the crinkle of the leaves as you scrunch them in your hand.
2. Go on a treasure hunt together and see what you can find. Opening up a spiky case to reveal the horse chestnut inside is so magical for toddlers. We like to gather lots of different leaves and talk about their colours and why they’re changing with the season.
3. It’s easy to mix in some maths by adding up how many acorns you can find. We count how many points there are on the different leaves we find too.
4. We chat about the different sizes of the leaves. Can we find one bigger than our hand or Daddy’s hand? Sometimes we line up different leaves or conkers in size order so they get bigger and bigger as we go along the line.
5. Playing sorting games helps children with early maths and language skills, so we might gather up a big pile of leaves and sort them into a red pile, a yellow pile and a brown pile – and then jump in them all!
6. We also like to bring a few treasures home and get creative with them. Rolling conkers and acorns through paint makes beautiful patterns and is great messy fun.
7. You can try printing with your leaves by using a roller or sponge to cover one side of your leaf with paint and then pressing it on to paper to make a transfer. Use autumn colours and different shaped leaves and your toddler can create a seasonal masterpiece.
8. Adding natural materials in with your other toys gives children a rich variety of textures to explore while they play. Conkers in cake cases make a great addition to a play kitchen, or they could be passengers to ride in trains, or food to feed toy dinosaurs. Just be careful to provide only big conkers and keep an eye on your child if you think they might put them in their mouth too.
9. Using a few beautiful leaves to make a mobile lets even very young babies enjoy the season. Dipping the leaves in wax, laminating them or covering them in sticky backed plastic helps preserve the shape and colour of the leaves. We punch a hole in each one and use a piece of thread to tie them to a twig and then hang the mobile in the window or above the changing table where we can watch the leaves twirl around.
10. And conkers are great for threading, which is wonderful fine motor practise for little hands. Choose some big conkers, which your toddler can’t swallow, and use a bradawl or screwdriver to make a hole through the centre of each one. Give your toddler a shoelace or a ribbon with some sticky tape wrapped round one end and let them thread on the conkers. They could make a train, a snake or even a necklace.
What about you? What’s your favourite way to enjoy autumn with your children?
*Cathy James is the mother of two girls aged 4 and 7 and lives in the north of England. She is a childminder who looks after babies and pre-schoolers and is rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. She’s passionate about giving children a great start in life and believes children thrive with a gentle routine, great food and lots of play.
With a background in training and coaching, Cathy understands children are natural learners who develop best when they have an active, positive environment. Cathy will be sharing ideas on easy and fun things you can do at home with your children to help them develop the important early learning skills.
She writes about children’s play, learning and crafts at her own blog www.nurturestore.co.uk. When she’s not doing jigsaws or making models with egg boxes she loves cooking and gardening.
Cathy writes about all things home grown, home cooked and homemade at her blog www.homemademummy.net.