Looking for some fun fall activities for your family?
Check out some seasonal ideas below or click here to view the Family Activities Page
Seed Scavenger hunt
We take joy in the beauty of flowers in the summer, but the only purpose of a flower for a plant is to produce seeds (and thus more plants). Take an empty egg carton (or other container) and see how many different kinds of seeds you can find. How are each of the seeds transported to the new location that they will grow? In the wind? By animals? In the water?
Leaf Chromatography Experiment
There are three types of pigments that affect a leaf’s color: chlorophyll (green), carotenoid (yellow, orange, and brown), and anthocyanin (red). Chlorophyll and carotenoid are in the leaves all the time during the growing season, but in the summer the plants produce so much chlorophyll that most leaves only look green. As the days shorten, the plants make less chlorophyll so the other pigments are visible (hence the changing colors in the fall).
This experiment allows you to see the different pigments in the leaves.
- Collect a few leaves from the same type of tree.
- Tear leaves into small pieces and place them in a tall glass. Add enough alcohol to cover the leaves and cover the glass with plastic wrap to keep the alcohol from evaporating.
- Put the glass into a dish of hot water for about 30 minutes. The pigments from the leaves should be released into the alcohol.
- Place a filter paper strip in the glass, so it is barely touching the alcohol.
- Some of the mixture will slowly travel up the paper and after 30-90 minutes you will see bands of the different pigments that were in your leaf. The longer you leave it in the alcohol, the more pigment will travel up filter paper.
Whether you want to make a field guide or a piece of art, all this takes is paper, a little paint, and a few leaves.
Go on an Acorn Hunt
So far this fall, it has felt like you should be wearing a hard hat when you go into the woods to protect yourself from the falling acorns. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, an abundance of acorns is a sign that it is going to be a particularly harsh winter. The actual reasons and methods for some years being high mast years (lots of acorns) and some not is still unknown to scientists.
What we do know is that acorns provide a lot of the energy to fuel the food chain in the northern forests. See how many acorns you can find that have been munched on by animals.