What a wonder to view the world through the eyes of a child. At this time of the year especially, the autumn treetops must seem like they were set aglow by magic. For kids, fall colours go hand in hand with back to school. Remember those days of tromping your way through piles of fallen leaves, and listening to their musical crunch beneath your brand-new sneakers as you make your way to the playground? Ah, the nostalgia.
We know how thrilling the fall season is for kids, and here at York Durham Headwaters, we are all about making memories. That is why we invite you to do something extra special with your wee ones this weekend: organize a full-day adventure featuring colourful fall leaves. Check out our itinerary below, which finishes with a sweet treat. As a bonus, we’ve got a craft idea for you that can double as a heartfelt present for Grandma and Grandpa. After all, Christmas is not so far away.
Our YDH Family Fall Colours Challenge
No matter how young or old your kids are, you can get them in on the family fun. Below, we’ve focused on Uxbridge for our itinerary, but any of our wonderful small towns and natural spaces will work just as well. Be sure to bring a reusable shopping bag with you for all the gorgeous leaves your little ones will collect.
1. Go for a hike in nature
If you didn’t know, Uxbridge is the official Trail Capital of Canada. This network of groomed paths and trails is truly for all ages and all activities. What makes Uxbridge perfect for exploring with children is a series of kid-friendly loops. Have fun exploring the Butterfly Loop or the Frog Loop, and see what kind of wildlife you can spot during the bustle of the autumn months.
2. Collect colourful leaves
Set your kids on a mission to collect the most beautiful leaves they can find. Here, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Are the most spectacular leaves chocolate brown? Bright red with orange veins? Sunny yellow with green patches? Have your child explain why they picked each leaf, and what they found special about it. If you will be doing our craft below, make sure your kids choose pliable, “floppy” leaves that can be pressed and preserved.
3. Find a photo frame
Once you have finished your nature hike, trek into Downtown Uxbridge and explore the wonderful shops on this quaint, historic main street. There are several cute, independent gift and craft shops here where you can find a photo frame. The best size to choose is 8.5 x 11, and be sure to select one in which the glass lies flat against the backing. Let your kids’ personalities shine as they choose the frame that is perfect for them. Also, don’t be afraid to check out more than one shop. The fun is in the finding.
4. Stop for a treat
What is a day of outdoor fall adventure without a belly-warming treat afterwards? Stop at Tin Cup Caffe for a hot chocolate or an apple cider to reward the kiddies for their extra effort. Perhaps even a baked treat—exploring is hungry work! Now is the time to chat with your children about their experience. Have them tell you what part of their fall colours adventure they liked the best.
A Christmas Craft for Grandma and Grandpa
Once you are done with your day of adventure, come home and dive into your art project. It is best to get started right away while the leaves your kids have collected are still soft. If they dry out, they will crumble when pressed.
Using any craft supplies you want that will lie flat beneath the glass, have your children decorate their leaves. Glitter and glue, acrylic paint, sequins… it’s up to them. They can edge their leaves in puff paint, follow the lines of the veining with glitter—whatever they think looks the best is A-Okay! But be sure not to use too much glue. You don’t want it to smear beneath the glass when the leaves are pressed.
On a white piece of paper that will fit within the frame your child has chosen, have your kids arrange their decorated leaves in any pattern they would like. Print on a small piece of cardstock your child’s name, the year they completed the craft, and if it is going to be a gift, perhaps add a small message. Get creative.
When the glitter and glue has dried enough to not smear, press your child’s creation along with their printed cardstock between the glass and the backing of the frame. And voila! A heartfelt Christmas gift that Grandmas and Grandpas will treasure for years to come. What a wonderful way to commemorate your day of memory-making.
A Note from the Writer
This day of adventure comes to you from the fondest memories of my own childhood. Growing up, my parents would take my younger sister and I out to a local ravine, where we would collect beautiful fall leaves exactly as I have described above. I recall with great warmth and oodles of nostalgia the hours that we spent tromping through piles of fallen leaves beneath glowing canopies of orange and yellow, and hunting for the perfect leaves for our pending art project.
These memories are so warm for me that I have made the effort to pass them on to my son. Now in his teen years (where does the time go?!), he still mentions our autumn nature walks with fondness. And when he sees his very own leafy artwork, made at the tender age of five and still on display at Grandma and Grandpa’s house after all these years, there is no mistaking that proud look on his face… even if he tries to hide it behind a mask of teenaged aloofness [Katherine says with a good-natured eye-roll].
I hope you are able to create as many warm memories as I was, and that your kids will carry them forward as mine has. Happy hunting, families!
Story by Katherine Ryalen