Summer is officially over, and the fall season has begun! Visions of leaves, and pumpkins and indian corn have replaced beach chairs and sunscreen. Here are some fun ideas for crafts and activities that take advantage of the falling leaves, and cooling weather!

Leaf prints

Collect leaves from your backyard, the park, school, or other outside areas. Glue the leaves onto a sheet of cardboard or heavy card stock paper. Allow them to dry completely. Cover your working area with newspapers. Pour a small amount of paint onto a sturdy paper plate. Move a paint roller back & forth through the paint, and then roll it over the leaves, or, use a paintbrush and paint the leaves different colors. Lay a piece of green or black construction paper over the painted leaves and rub back and forth over the paper with your hand. Lift the paper to see your leaf print!

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?

Ever wonder why leaves change color every fall? Here's a simple scientific explanation:

Plants take water from the ground through their roots. They also take a gas called carbon dioxide from the air. Plants then use sunlight to turn the water and carbon dioxide into glucose, which is a kind of sugar that they can use for energy. This process is called photosynthesis. That means "putting together with light." A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color. As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees "know" to begin getting ready for winter.

During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can't see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.

Indian Corn Mosaics

These colorful corn mosaics will add a bright touch to your house! You'll need to buy a jar of colored popcorn kernels. Draw a seasonal design on a piece of construction paper. Then glue the colorful kernels onto the design. Allow to dry and then hang!

Painted Rocks

What a fun and easy craft- painting rocks! Simply collect smooth, flat rocks from outside and using poster paints decorate your rocks! You can paint things like faces, animals, flowers, and designs! You can also glue on decorations such as yarn, pipe cleaners, beans, and fabric pieces to make whiskers, eyes, faces, and lots, lots more.

Recommended Fall & Harvest books:

Autumn Days, Ann Schweninger
Autumn Harvest, Alvin Tresselt
Scarecrow, Valerie Littlewood
Tractor and other Farm Machines, Claire Llewellyn

Harvest Facts!

Do you know what the biggest crop is during the Harvest season? Corn! Try to see how many things you eat that are made from corn! Here are some interesting facts to share!

- Corn is the most abundant grain in the Western Hemisphere
- The United States produces more than half the corn grown in the world
- Most of the corn is grown in the Corn Belt
- The kinds of corn grown today are improved for bigger and better harvests
- Most of the corn grown today is field corn used to feed livestock
- Corn is planted in long, straight rows to make it easier to harvest

Five Little Leaves:

Five red leaves, five and no more,
The caterpillar ate one, now there are four.
Four red leaves, that's easy to see.
Along came a rainstorm, now there are three.
Three red leaves, nothing much to do
A big wind blew, now there are two!
Two red leaves, that's not much fun,
I glued one on my paper, now there is one!
Hang on pretty red leaf, your branches won't break,
You're one less leaf for me to rake!

Recommended Fall site:

If you can't get out on the road this autumn, don't despair! The best colors of the fall are now available for convenient viewing right here, thanks to the nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and local rail-trail managers and enthusiasts across America. You can click on the links to visit the rail-trail sites offering some of the prettiest views that you will see anywhere this autumn.

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