As daylight hours shorten it is fascinating to pay attention to the changes in the natural world around us and how our own bodies feel as we adjust to the rhythms of a new season. Walking in nature helps us to reflect upon these changes and improves our mood, especially on a clear sunny day. Explore with your senses: feel the cooler temperatures, smell the damp air and earthy aromas, observe changing colours, listen to sounds and taste late summer fruits.
Colour – light energy – has been linked to our health and well-being so here are my favourite colour inspired activities to share with your groups to beat any autumn blues:
Wild foods I-spy spotters guide: Hedgerows are full of colourful wild food treasures! Create a photo guide of most the common fruits, nuts and berries in your area. Then invite your group to see how many they can find. Children particularly enjoy looking for bright red coloured berries – please emphasise to look but not pick; explaining that there are many poisonous lookalikes and the importance of leaving food for wildlife to collect and eat. This activity teaches visual recognition using colour and shape. Count how many different colours are found.
Colours of autumn: Using bookmark sized black card with a strip of double sided stick tape along its length, collect and stick small pieces of different coloured fallen leaves to create a collage of colours; warm earthy colours or vibrant intense colour contrasts of yellow, red and orange. For younger children, the card can be a squirrel or hedgehog shape template to introduce learning about how wildlife is preparing for the winter.
Crown camouflage: Extending the previous activity, decorate a card headband (with a strip doubled sided tape) to create a crown of leaves. Discuss with group winter camouflage; deer grow a thick dark coloured coat to blend into their changing surroundings. Challenge your group to hide (setting your boundaries) imagining they are deer, using their leaf crowns help to disguise their shape – will the wolf find them?
Autumn landscapes: Experience the warm soft glow of autumn colours during the ‘golden hours’ just after sunrise and before sunset. The New Forest heathlands are a magical place to sit and let your senses take in your surroundings. In contrast the golden yellow colours of the beech woodlands against a clear blue sky invite you to playfully kick piles of dry leaves!
Guided autumn walks New Forest: Click New Forest walking festival for more details. Join us on our family Wild foods of the Forest walks on Sunday 14th or 21st October – and learn how to make your own autumn vitamin boost tonics.