It’s that time of year again! Summer is over, and your kids can’t wait to skip, jump and hop into the Mount Everest-worthy pile of leaves that’ll soon be collecting in your backyard. And, with the start of the new season comes the chance for a whole new lineup of kids’ activities. If your little explorer is all about science, check out these awesome fall-themed experiments. And bonus—they’re an educational (but still entirely entertaining) alternative to screen time.
Awesome Autumn Walk
What could be easier than going outside and taking a walk? The fall season means that there are plenty of changes to see outdoors. Bring a pad and a pencil to take notes or a sketchbook to draw. Ask your child a few open-ended questions about what they see and the season (such as, "Why do you think the trees look different now?" Along with the leaves in the trees, encourage your child to look for autumn animals or insects—or ask why they don't see as many critters and creatures as they would have a few short months ago.
Slime science is always welcome with the pint-sized set. Try this recipe to make not-so-spooky Halloween slime, add glow in the dark glue for a creepy type of cool or make a ghoulishly ghost version that shimmers with a hint of silver glitter.
It's milk! Oh, but that's not all. This kind of spooky science experiment is magic milk. That's right—magic. If your kid wants to make have a glowing good time, head over to Learn Play Imagine for the how-to.
Oil and Water
What is it that they say about oil and water? They don't mix? Yep, that sounds right. This fall experiment from The Science Kiddo helps your science kiddo to explore this concept and come to their own conclusions. Oh and if you're wondering where the fall theme comes in. Add a few autumn-hued drops of food coloring to turn it into a seasonal science activity.
These color changing leaves from Mini Monets and Mommies are more than just seasonal decor. Use tissue paper to test how the color moves from one surface onto another, creating red, orange or yellow leaves in a magical moment—all while your little investigator is exploring the scientific process. Soak a paper leave (that you crafty kiddo draws) with water and place non-colorfast tissue paper on top. What happens next? Your child can make a prediction, test it and compare the results to what they thought would or might happened. Afterwards, encourage your child to talk about how the tissue's color ended up on the paper and why other types of objects might not produce the same effects.
Pumpkin Seed Science
It's pumpkin time again. And no, that doesn't only apply to the fall flavored foods that you're savoring right now. As you carve your family's jack o'lantern, let the kiddos explore the ooey gooey goop inside. This sensory experience is ideal for little scientists who are into making hands-on discoveries. Have them close their eyes and describe what the inside of the pumpkin feels like. When they're done, scoop out the seeds and let them dry. Your creative kid can add a few drips of red, orange or yellow food coloring into a bag, toss in the seeds and coat them. When they're dry, the seeds are perfect for making mini mosaics or other types if seasonal art. Not only is this sensory exploration an artsy adventure, but it's also a lesson in the plant life cycle. Discuss why pumpkins need seeds. Save a few seeds and plant them in indoor pots, creating a second fall science activity!
By now you've probably parented for long enough to have tried the good ol' baking soda and vinegar volcano more than a few times. This fall-themed take on the classic, from Little Bins for Little Hands, is a science exploration that will make a mess in the most magnificent way possible!
Why do leaves change color in the fall? That's a tricky one to explain to your child. That is, without the help of a hands-on experiment to do the "talking." If you're not sure where to start, check out this simple exploration from How We Learn.
The Scents of Fall
Mmm. The smell of fall. Yep, you know it's all about the pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. Well, with this imaginative experiment from Fun At Home With Kids, your kiddo can combine the sensory science of the fall season with a completely creative craft. Kick this activity off with a sensory start. That is, a sensory discussion. Encourage your child to ask questions about the senses and talk about how people can explore through them (including sense of sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing). As your child mixes, mashes, stretches and smashes the scented dough, ask open-ended questions, such as, "How does the dough feel on your hands?" and, "What can you smell?" Your child can even create an accompanying chart, comparing the play dough scent to different foods.
Apple Taste Test
The tastes, scents and sights of fall are here! And your child is ready to explore what the season has to offer. Try a sensory science exploration with this apple tasting activity from Mama Papa Bubba.
This STEM idea from Lemon Lime Adventures takes autumn engineering to the next level. Your little learner can explore the art of building, getting hands-on with concepts such as form vs. function, balance and weight distribution.
— Erica Loop with Oz Spies and Amber Guetebier