Thursday, September 27, 2012
Guest Post: 10 Educational October Break Activities
Discovering new ways to entertain kids and add to their education while they have this time off can present a challenge. However, anyone will enjoy these fun and enlightening top 10 October activities.
1. Visit a corn maze. This seasonal activity is a delightful way to spend a fall afternoon. Children and adults will have a blast navigating an ocher sea of withering stalks, searching for the correct course. Make it a family quest or divide into teams to increase competition and establish bragging rights. Most mazes offer light refreshments such as apple cider, hot chocolate, and snack foods, and some even offer prizes for successful completion. (Sinus sufferers should come prepared, this outdoor activity usually sports a high concentration of allergens)
2. Start an acorn nursery. Children love to grow plants, and this is a great way to expand basic science knowledge. Gather a few nice acorns and remove the caps. Place 2-3 acorns inside a plastic zipper bag on a damp paper towel, and set in a sunny window. Children can chart the daily progress and then move the germinated seeds to small indoor pots; this spring they can plant the seedlings outside. This activity is a wonderful way to demonstrate respect for our environment, and teach children about the deciduous trees and their growing process.
3. Take a drive and visit roadside produce stands or the farmer’s market. Patronizing independent growers strengthens the local economy, and provides an excellent source of fresh fruits and fall vegetables. Allow the kids to pick their favorites and encourage them to notice the distinct varieties offered in the fall.
4. Make homemade treats. Walnut cookies or quick breads provide a delicious way to enjoy those fresh products purchased at the farmer’s market and are the perfect recipes for involving kids. Allow them to choose a secret spice or another alternative ingredient to increase their creativity and make the recipe their own.
5. Go all out and make apple butter. Use this activity to explain the colonial importance of preserving fruits for winter months before modern refrigeration.
6. Take a Day trip to the forest. What better way to breathe in fresh air, enjoy vigorous exercise and surround yourself in autumn bliss. Download a tree identification guide and issue a challenge to find the highest number of different species by collecting fallen leaves.
7. Visit local harvest and craft fairs. This time of year, towns and cities all over the country celebrate with local festivities. Discover if any craft demonstrations are available such as broom, candle, or soap making, and take the opportunity to expound on the hardships faced by the early settlers while carving out an existence in the wilderness.
8. Save those pumpkin seeds! Naturally, this beloved gourd figures prominently in any plans for October break activities, but this year why not dry the seeds for a yummy and healthy snack. After “gutting” the pumpkin, rinse and remove the membrane material (yucky stuff) from the seeds. Evenly spread the seeds out, in a single layer, on a baking sheet. At this point, season with salt or go wild and use a recipe for candied nuts, substituting the pumpkin seeds. Bake at 275 degrees or until lightly crisp and browned.
9. Pick up and deliver potted flowers for the local nursing home. Performing this sort of benevolent action exposes children to the wonderful feeling that doing for others gives, and builds character. Flowers work well or certain allowable decorations, but check with the facility beforehand.
10. Check with your local library or community center. Most offer a schedule of great activities planned for the season, including story telling or other shows, holiday festivities, or crafting classes designed for school age children.
The ideas in this article were sparked by a local student who is currently pursuing her early childhood education degree. The main thing to remember when deciding on fall amusements is to keep them lighthearted and fun. Spending time together while enjoying this glorious season will provide lasting memories, and a few of these October break activities could possibly become yearly traditions.