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Beautiful Fall Colors- How to Explore the Season

Fall colors are a great way for kids to learn about trees, the outdoors, and the beauty of nature. Check out these quick lessons and crafts!

Fall colors

Msquared Books

Beautiful Fall Colors- How to Explore the Season

Table of Contents

Fall Colors
Fall Colors. Photo Credit: Craig Adderley

If you’ve made hiking a frequent activity with your young ones (or even if you haven’t), getting outside to see the fall colors is a must!

There are so many changes occurring at once — our days are becoming shorter, temperatures are dropping, and both plants and animals are preparing for those cold, snowy, upcoming winter months.

This is the perfect time to put on a jacket (and maybe a hat and gloves) and observe what our favorite plants and animals from the year are up to now. And, of course, to see all the beautiful fall colors.

Why Does the Weather Change in the Fall?

What is behind all of these changes? Let’s start high level— all the way up in space.

Way out there, beyond what we can see with just our eyes, the Earth is moving around the sun. The Earth is constantly in motion, spinning, tilting, and rotating up in space. When our part of the Earth (where we live) is closer to the sun, we have longer, warmer days.

Right now, though, our side of the Earth is moving further from the sun, so it gets chillier, and the days get shorter. This means plants and animals (including us) must adapt or find ways to survive.

For us humans, that may mean putting on thicker clothing or staying inside where it’s warm to watch the birds and other wildlife.  For animals, it can mean entering an extended state of rest known as hibernation or migrating somewhere warmer for survival.


These shorter, cooler days lead to many of the changes we see in the fall, one of our four seasons.

As we get even further from the sun, we head into the chilliest part of the year— winter. Then, as we pass the halfway point and the days get longer again, we make it to spring, where flowers begin to shake off the snow and start growing again.

Finally, when we’re closest to the sun, we get to experience the warm, bright days of summer.

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?

As we learned in early spring, trees are very dependent on the weather.

Both hot and cold temperatures cause tree sap (essential nutrients within a tree) to flow or freeze. This sap is created through photosynthesis, a process where leaves and roots collect sunshine, water, and carbon dioxide from the air and soil.

As we get less sunshine, the tree prepares to “take a break” in the winter. This means the leaves aren’t as necessary anymore, so the green color that was helping to collect all of that light fades, revealing other colors that were there the whole time— reds, yellows, and oranges.

Do All Trees Have Fall Colors?

Nope— only trees that lose their leaves, known as ‘Deciduous Trees,’ change color.

If you look at ‘Coniferous Trees,’ sometimes called ‘Evergreen Trees’ (think of Christmas trees), you’ll notice that they have needles instead of leaves. These needles tend to remain green year-round. That is because they have a waxy coating that helps them retain water and survive in winter conditions.

There are exceptions to fall colors, of course, that depend on the type of tree, location, and environmental conditions.

Fall Color Activities for Toddlers

Fall Color Crafts
Fall Color Crafts. Photo Credit: Designecologist

As we learned in the spring, our plants are great for teaching the senses. In the fall, leaves are a great way to learn colors. Now is a great time to learn colors because there are so many of them out there!

On your next hike, challenge your little ones to pick up different colored leaves from the ground. When you get home, have them sort the leaves by color. You can help with the sorting by using paint samples (found in any paint store) or something as simple as crayons.

If the kids enjoy that activity, My Bored Toddler has plenty more leaf crafts and activity ideas for your family to try.

Learning Fall Colors

Each season teaches us something new about our environment. We watch flowers grow, and colorful birds return in the spring. We see how busy bugs get in the summer.

The fall shows us how trees adapt to changing conditions with fall colors. Finally, winter shows us how plants and animals can survive harsh conditions.

It’s important that children feel connected to all of Earth’s natural resources that are helping to keep us all alive.

As the weather gets cooler and we stay inside more often, you can check out The Environment & Me Safety Pledge book to help your kids understand how to work together to keep a smile on Earth’s face.


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