For kids and parents alike
by Anita DiGregory
It’s that time of the year again…fuzzy sweaters, cozy blankets, crisp air, stunning colors, football, and pumpkin spice and everything nice. We are so blessed in this area by the beauty that autumn brings. With the spectacular sunrises, inspiring landscapes, and gorgeous sunsets, Thurmont becomes almost magical in the fall. It is the perfect time for family fun and festivities with the little ones. Looking for some family-friendly ways to turn autumn days into memory makers? Try some of these ideas. And, for added fun, cuddle up and share some of these literary favorites with your kids. It’ll make those fall days fun and educational—a win/win!
Become a Leaf Detective. Dust off grandpa’s trusty old magnifying glass and go for a walk through your neighborhood or the closest park and set out on a mysterious leaf hunt. Collect as many different kinds of leaves as your mini explorer can find and bring them home. Once back at home, work together to look up and identify the different leaves and what types of trees they fell from. Make an official Leaf Detective Book by attaching the leaves to the pages and identifying them. When you are done, your little one can use your extra leaves to make etchings with paper and crayons. Or add them to your yard’s leaf pile and take turns raking them all up and jumping in. Cuddling up and reading some of these classics together will make this the perfect ending to the perfect day for your little leaf detective.
Books: Why Do Leaves Change Colors by Betsy Maestro; Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert; We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger; Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert; A Tree for all Seasons by Robin Bernard; Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins.
Go on an Apple Adventure. Visit a local orchard. In Thurmont, we are blessed to have both the Catoctin Mountain Orchard and Pryor’s Orchard to choose from, both offering a variety of apples and other delicious treats. According to their website, Catoctin Mountain Orchard offers select days to pick your own apples. There is a $1.00 fee to enter the apple orchard, but this includes the wagon ride to the orchard. After selecting your favorite apples, you and your little one can work together at home to make some candy apples or even an apple pie. And, when your treats are ready to share, you can share some of the following classic stories with your child as well: Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell; Apples by Gail Gibbons; How Do Apples Grow by Betsy Maestro; Johnny Appleseed by Jodie Shepherd; The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall; The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons.
Have a ‘Great Pumpkin’ Day. With so many wonderful choices in our area, picking the perfect pumpkin patch for your family is quite easy. Many offer entertaining and educational family-friendly activities, in addition to wagon rides to “pick-your-own” patches. Some choices in Thurmont include Brookfield Pumpkins (brookfieldpumpkins.com) and Lawyer’s Winterbrook Farm (winterbrookfarmsmd.com). After your day at the patch, enjoy some of these favorite stories while sharing some pumpkin pie or roasted pumpkin seeds: Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum; From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer; The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons; Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington; It’s Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall; Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson.
Become a Scavenger. Work with your child to create and carry out the perfect fall scavenger hunt. Start by reading some of the entertaining stories listed below. Then, using some of the ideas from the books, brainstorm with your child and come up with several things you might see on a fall walk. List these on a sheet of paper and make this your official scavenger hunt checklist. Then, go scavenge! Instead of actually collecting the items, you can take pictures of you and your child with them. After, you can print the photos and have a keepsake of your wonderful day together. Books: Migration by Robin Nelson; Four Seasons Make A Year by Anne Rockwell; The Reason for Seasons by Gail Gibbons; The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado; Little Acorn Grows Up by Edward Gibbs; Fall Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow; Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak; Autumn is Here by Heidi Pross Gray; My Autumn Book by Wong Herbert Yee.
Share some football fever. Are you ready for some football? Share your love of the game with your little ones with some of the fun books listed below. Attend a Catoctin High School or Catoctin Youth Association game together. Have a friendly family pick-up game in the backyard. And before the big televised game, make some fun snacks and cuddle up and watch together, cheering on your favorite team! Books: My Football Book by Gail Gibbons; Fall Ball by Peter McCarty; Football With Dad (A Little Golden Book) by Frank Berrios; Little Football (Little Sports) by Brad Herzog.
Create a Cozy Campout. Pitch the tent. Gather the flashlights, s’mores supplies, pillows, sleeping bags, and some of the great books listed below, and transform your backyard into the perfect camping spot. Have dinner under the stars, roast marshmallows, make s’mores, point out your favorite constellations, and cuddle up with some stories read together by flashlight. Kids of all ages will love this fun camping adventure! Books: Bats and Owls and other titles by Gail Gibbons; Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming; Our Stars by Anne Rockwell; Papa, Please Get Me the Moon and other titles by Eric Carle; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears by Margaret Wise Brown.