Category Archives: Play and Learning @ Home

Share simple, inexpensive at-home (or in the community) ideas of the activities that can enrich your child’s knowledge and playtime.

It’s Autumn!

For us, summer doesn’t officially end until October hits. We try to hang on to it as long as possible. Whether it’s because we want to take that one last trip to the lake, taste that one last tomato from the garden or take one last run through the sprinklers, we just can’t seem to let go easily.

That being said, it’s now October, and in our family, officially fall and the holiday season. We embrace this to its fullest.

One of the most enjoyable experiences of being a parent is reliving holidays with the eyes and excitement of children. And one of my favorite things about the holidays is sharing experiences. It’s really just beginning for us. Last year was the first time Nathaniel understood there was celebrating to be done. We start with Halloween (arguably his favorite of them all, because this kid loves candy – more than cake, more than pop, more than chips and cookies).

He’s excited about the light-up ghost we sit on the porch, the “fodder shock” we set up in the front yard, the window clings and plastic pumpkins (to fill with candy, of course). The giddiness you hear in his non-stop chatter when he is able to pick out pumpkins and gourds — for decoration and carving — is catching.

Just like feeling the chill of the crisp autumn breeze, it’s difficult not to be touched by his excitement.

Nathaniel excited for fall!

Nathaniel excited for fall!

Of course there’s always the traditional pumpkin carving, and we will probably bake some cutout cookies – if I’m up to the mess!

Yes, this time of year gets hectic – with the extra activities and meals and shopping. And, by the end of December I’ll be more than happy to let the holidays go and move on to the new year, with new goals. But right now, it’s time to make memories with my family and get caught up in the sweet spirit of a 4 year old boy who is just looking for the next new experience to jump into, head first, candy wrappers and all.

Some suggestions on enjoying October:

Use holidays for teachable activities. It’s a lot more fun learning about the color orange when you can cut out a pumpkin, or learning about the letter “F” when you can finger paint a tree with different colored leaves falling to the ground.

Looking for a fun activity for your smallest ghosts and goblins? Try the Un-haunted Halloween Happenings at Deming Park in Terre Haute. This year they’re on Oct. 11 and 12.

Want a more relaxed, one-on-one experience with your kids? Another one of my favorite activities is going on a nature hike. This time of year, it’s especially rewarding. With the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, there’s so much to experience, so much to learn. I’ve promised Nathaniel we will start a leaf collection this year.

Want to take a drive? Corn mazes and pumpkin patches dot the Wabash Valley landscape this time of year. Pumpkin Works near Paris, Ill., and Hobson’s Fun Farms in Parke County, Indiana, are a couple of the more popular sites. Find more farms here.

For those times when the weather isn’t ideal for leaf collecting and getting lost in a corn maze, check out all the kid-friendly activities the Vigo County Public Library offers. This library is truly an asset in the community, and it amazes me all the (free!) activities it offers. Below is a list of fall story times. For more information on other family friendly and kid-based activities – and there are many – visit the library’s website. Or, to register for story times (some require it) call 812-232-1115.

Mother Goose on the Loose
When: 10 to 10:30 a.m. (ages 0-2); 11 to 11:30 a.m. (ages 3-5) one Thursday a month. This month’s Mother Goose on the Loose is Oct. 3.
Details: This is an interactive story time for children and their caregivers that includes a story, songs, rhymes, musical instruments and more.
Baby Bookworms (ages 0-17 months)
When: 10 to 10:45 a.m. Wednesdays
Details: Nursery rhymes, finger plays, stories and more.
A World of Adventure (ages 3–5)
When: 10 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Details: Music, stories, finger-plays and more.
Toddler Tales (18–36 months)
When: 11 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Details: Fun, interactive stories and songs
Music Makers Storytime (ages 0 to 5)
When: 10 to 10:30 a.m. Fridays
Details: This program is filled with movement, instruments, and rhyming finger-plays.

Also, head to the library dressed in costume and receive a free book from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 from the Friends of the Library. After you get your book, decorate your own monster face cupcake, enjoy a Halloween story time and participate in games and activities.

Or, why not add some science to Halloween? Learn about bones, bodies and brains at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum in October. Tot Time is at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 8 and 22. Family Friday events are from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 11, 18 and 25 and a special Healthy Halloween Hoedown is planned for 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26. Keep up to date here.

It always surprises me how I am ready for the next season, no matter what that might be. It’s like a natural progression. Maybe it’s been ingrained in me from the start. When the time comes I’m ready for the leaves to change and for ghosts and goblins and pumpkins. How could anyone tire of this season? But by Thanksgiving I’m craving Christmas and by Christmas I’m ready for January, and a new year of resolutions. For now though, I’m going to relish in this season, and share in the wonder of my children.