Fall is such a busy time for the valley. Apple picking, pumpkin patches, hay rides, and fall festivals. All of these adventures are well worth the visit, but you can also get your kids engaged with nature based craft and sensory activities that are easy and inexpensive. Here are a few:
You can use any fruits or veggies for prints. When doing veggie prints I find it best to use a small tray with only a dab of paint on it. Using too much will distort the prints and ink-pads can develop mold. I find that using tempera paint in small amounts is ideal. Allow your child to dab or roll the fruit and then splat it firmly onto the print paper (card stock or cardboard). I find that apple, lemon, and corn prints to be some of my favorites. I like the detailed prints that onions create, but they can really burn the eyes. Combining apples and lemons makes a wildly vibrant and vivid print.
Toddlers love industrious work. Let them enjoy the print making, but also exploring the fruit, taking out the seeds and even tasting it!
In addition to bountiful harvests, autumn brings with a dramatic change in the color scheme of the local landscape. Leaf peeping is a favorite activity of folks from out of state – and for good reason! Make time to get outside as a family this fall and explore the brilliant red, orange, and yellow that the woods have to offer. The best leaf peeping excursions are ones that include not only woods walking but a view from a high place. We recommend…
En plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air.” It’s used in English to describe a painting style that occurs outdoors. Made possible historically by the manufacturing of paint into tubes, artists no longer had to mix their paints in the studio from chemical compounds, freeing them to travel outdoors for inspiration. When participating in plein air painting, artists become fully engaged with the fall landscape through perspective, composition and, most importantly, color! Watercolors are the most portable and easiest to clean up, but plein air painting can be done in any medium – oil paint, acrylic, pastels, etc. – and by any age.
Really want to entrench yourself in local art history? Then paint at the summit of Mt. Holyoke! The mountain (not the college!) is the site of Thomas Cole’s 1836 painting “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm” (commonly known as “The Oxbow”). This painting depicts the Connecticut River Valley and highlights Cole’s interest in depicting two parts of the American landscape: pastoral farmland and wild forest.
Crisp fall days are a great time for outdoor hands-on science! Using fall-harvested crops and the natural phenomena of autumn as inspiration, families can explore everything from weather prediction to animal tracks. These engaging outdoor science projects can be enjoyed by scientists of all ages, and require few materials – the learning inspired by each project will come naturally thanks to participants’ curiosity and ability to observe! Learn what color leaves different trees produce in the autumn and learn to read your landscape.
Think about this:
How do you think American landscape painting helped to inspire the early conservation movement in the late 19th century?
What interesting colors stand out to you during fall foliage walks? Which trees’ leaves turn which colors? Make note and learn to read your landscape!
Why do you think the manufacturing of paint into tubes helped shape the way artists such as the impressionists (Monet) and post-impressionists (Van Gogh) paint in the style that they did?
WEB REVIEW: Arboretum Plant Photo Gallery: Fall Foliage This fall foliage collection includes photographs, an explanation of the science of autumn leaf color, and a list of selected plants that provide colorful autumn leaves. The list notes the specific colors provided by the plants (such as orange or dark red), and includes links to the gallery images where available. From the United States National Arboretum. (c. LII.org) URL: http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/FallFoliage