With the weather cooling and leaves starting to turn vibrant colors, there is no doubt autumn has arrived. This change of season brings opportunities to integrate autumn themes into your activity programming. Here are some autumn activity ideas to help get you and your participants in the mood for the season.
Apple Cider Party
When it comes to social gatherings, most Recreation Therapists know about tea parties or ice cream socials. How about embracing one of fall’s most popular drinks (no, not pumpkin spice lattes) for a social event? Apple cider is a healthier alternative to apple juice and is a good source of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. It can be served warm or cold. The aroma alone may spark your participants’ favorite autumn memories.
During the apple cider party, you could include some of the following activities to get your participants moving, creating, and feeling the spirit of fall.
Autumn Leaf Garland
Prior to your apple cider party, why not have your participants decorate artificial leaves to make a festive garland. Using paint brushes, apply glue on artificial leaves. Then sprinkle glitter over them. Once the glue dries, punch a hole in each leaf and thread some ribbon through it. Tie each leaf to a larger ribbon strand for a simple festive decoration created by your participants.
Modifications to this activity can incorporate other therapeutic elements. For example, in a behavioral health or addiction setting, have the participants write a behavior or self-defeating thought they want to “drop” during the upcoming season.
Pumpkin Drop and Pop
Let your participants get moving with a pumpkin drop and pop. Take some orange balloons and turn them into pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns. Color faces with black permanent marker and tie a little green ribbon to the balloon’s the spout. Set the balloons loose in an open area and let your participants grab and pop them. To make things more interesting, put tickets or prize vouchers inside the balloons before blowing them up. Be aware if any of your clients have trauma or PTSD where loud noises like popping balloons may trigger a negative reaction.
Pin the Spider on The Web
Who needs a donkey and tail? Get a big poster board and draw a spider web on it. Next, get some of those inexpensive spider rings available in just about every store this time of year. Put double-sided tape on the ring part of the spider ring. To play, blindfold the participant (if appropriate) and have them try and put the spider as close as they could to the center of the web. In addition to the group’s entertainment, this will help will coordination, balance, and gross motor skills.
Make a Simple Homemade Bird Feeder
With all the leaves falling from the trees, a nice homemade bird feeder will make a great tree decoration. Don’t worry if you don’t have wood, nails, and other building materials. For this feeder, you just need disposable cups or yogurt containers, string, a mixture of seeds, lard or suet, a bowl, pot, and heat source.
Combine the different seeds in a bowl so there is enough for all your participants. Then, melt the lard or suet. A 2:1 ratio is recommended. For instance, if you have 8 cups of seeds, heat 4 cups of lard. Once the lard is melted, stir in the seeds. Make a small hole in the bottom of the disposable cups and thread through some string. Add the seed/lard mixture to the cups and refrigerate overnight.
When the mixture is set, cut away the cup and tie the string in a knot so it could be hung from a tree. Click the image or visit this website for more detailed instructions.
Spice Boil Packets
I found this autumn activity idea in an old handout from the Chicago Botanical Garden. Participants create an autumn spice mix packet used as a gift for families or for personal enjoyment. This autumn activity idea addresses sensory stimulation, reminiscence, fine motor skills, learning about spices, working together, decision-making, creative expression
Materials: The following are some spices you could use to make these packets: whole cloves, cinnamon chips, orange peel, lemon, peel, allspice, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks.
You will also need, plastic ziplock bags, scoops or spoons, burner or hot plate, paper, envelopes, and art supplies to make cards.
Do it: Depending on your participants’ skill levels, you may want to make a spice mixture ahead of time using the spices above (or whatever spices you prefer) except the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Combine the spices and divide them into pie plates or trays for each participant.
Have the participants scoop some of the spice mixture into a few Ziplock bags. Then add a bay leaf and cinnamon stick to the bags. Seal the packets tight.
While your participants are creating a card (if these packets are being used as a gift) take one of the spice packets and simmer it in two cups of water with a burner or hot plate. Let the aromas fill the room while they create personalized cards. Encourage discussions about the scents and any memories they give the participants.
Make sure the packets are properly sealed, then include them with the decorated cards and envelopes. This will give your participants a great gift to give for family and friends.
Maple Tree Leaf Globe
What could possibly be better than a snow globe? You guessed it…an autumn leaf globe. I found this autumn activity idea on Pinterest. It is a great craft to capture the beauty of colorful falling leaves. Using a canning jar and lid, hot glue, twigs, twine, silk leaves, and metallic confetti you could set up a great craft activity your participants will enjoy all season long.
Check out this website for instructions.
Autumn is such a beautiful time of year and there are plenty of Autumn activity ideas to help your participants embrace it. In addition to the above ideas, let your participant experience the outdoors at a local forest preserve or even around your campus. Simple scavenger hunts, leaf collecting, or simply being in nature will provide for a great time and an appreciation for the changing of the seasons. Especially if you are living in the Midwest, this may be the last time to comfortably enjoy the outdoors for several months.
What are your favorite autumn activity ideas? Share your thoughts with The Real Recreation Therapist Community.
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