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October 3, 2012

Make a Game with Autumn Leaves

Old leaves can become a new game. Make an autumn obstacle course.

What you need:

•a yard full of leaves
•rakes and bags
•3 bean bags (optional)
What you do:

1.Design your course. Decide where you will build your course, what shape it will take, and what obstacles you will include. Here are some obstacle ideas to get you started:
◦Pile of leaves to crawl through,
◦Bags of leaves to leap over,
◦Paper grocery bags that must be filled with leaves before continuing on,
◦Stations where your child must find three bean bags (or other objects) that are buried in a leaf pile, and
◦A huge pile of leaves to dive into as the grand finale.
2.Start raking. To make an obstacle course, you’ll need leaves, lots of them. Give your child a small rake so he or she can help collect the leaves you’ll need. Then arrange the leaves into the obstacle course you designed earlier. (If you have two kids who want to race, make two identical courses.)
3.Ready, set, go! Now it’s time to have fun. Race with your child or referee two kids racing. Or time your child as he or she runs the course. Change the obstacles to keep the fun going.
What you talk about:

1.Fall into the season. Tell your child that autumn has another name – fall. Ask if he or she can guess where the name came from. Explain that it refers to the time of year when the leaves on some trees turn color and “fall” off.
2.Why do leaves change color? Explain to your child that leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll, a substance that helps plants make food. In fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll, and their green color fades. That’s when other colors that were underneath—the beautiful yellows, reds and oranges of fall—can show through. Ask your child to guess the most common leaf color (Answer: yellow.)
3.Fall recycling. Help your child discover ways that nature reuses old leaves. Overturn a bunch of leaves that have been on the ground for a while. You’re likely to find insects and other creatures. That’s because leaves provide these animals with food and shelter. Look for leaves from last year, and show your child how the old leaves have begun to decay. Explain that these old, rotten leaves enrich the soil, supplying food so other plants can grow.

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