Lee County Displays Autumn

Beth Pinyerd

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

By Beth Pinyerd 

I love South Alabama, Mobile. I lived there in Baldwin County for 30 years.

To be honest with my readers, however, I must admit I didn’t ever truly witness much autumn — the changing of leaves, a little nip in the air — in that area. When my mother came to live in South Alabama, she would strain to look into the forest near her home in September and October, trying to witness tree leaves and foliage changing colors for the fall. She quickly let me know that Opelika, Auburn and Lee County win the prize for displays of beautiful autumn changes.

Being back in Opelika, I totally agree with her observations. I just love the fall time with all it has to offer — the leaves beginning to change, the beautiful red sunsets, a nip of cool, fresh air, animals bustling about getting ready for winter and the fall holidays that come year after year.

In planning for the preschool children I teach, so many times those tried and true ideas from years gone by are the best. I have loved teaching in this area of the country because Lee County, Alabama, offers cheap, rich lessons for young children that can be remembered for a lifetime.

I’d like to share some of these lessons for families with young children to enjoy. I know autumn does not officially begin until next Wednesday, Sept. 22, but we can already see the changes which welcome the season of fall. 

1. Seed collections are a good activity to do during the fall. It is fun to gather seeds either on the ground or in fruits, vegetables and plants. Going into our local parks, I enjoy gathering pinecones and showing my class of children the seeds. Too, pinecones can be saved for Thanksgiving turkeys or Christmas trees. Gathering flowering plants and having children observe the seeds with a magnifying glass is always fascinating and a wonderful science lesson. Another seasonal favorite is scraping pumpkins out, separating the inside “mush” from the seed, washing and drying them and letting the children plant. Yes, new pumpkins will grow if properly taken care of.  One of my former second-grade students planted the seeds from his classroom science experiment to provide holiday pumpkins for each grade year after year. Too, cutting an apple in half sideways is another favorite fall activity. Slicing it this way makes a star appear and the children can pick out the seeds. This just takes a little bit of time and the children are so fascinated by this.

2. Leaf rubbings are a special hit during the fall. Take a piece of white paper with crayons, turn the leaf over with the leaf veins sticking out and let the children color over this. They will be fascinated at how the leaf appears. You can point out how the leaf, through the main vein, drinks up the water and nutrients from the soil. Making fall colors such as orange, yellow and red with food coloring is a special fall remembrance with young children. Taking the children’s hands and making hand leaves is another fall favorite that you can tape and hang in the kitchen windows to celebrate the season of fall. I like to add a little glue glitter so the hand leaves shine.

3. Animals do many different things in preparing for fall. Have your little scientists observe the many different habits. I love to see birds migrating to travel to warmer places for them to find food. This simply means they travel to other places. Especially over in the early morning sky, when your children are heading to school, this can be observed by birds traveling in a V-formation — it is a beautiful sight. Too, many fish migrate. They swim south into warmer waters. Also, some insects migrate.  Take, for example, and moths which travel some distance to their winter homes to the far south where it is warmer. But also, some insects remain dormant during the winter or in a state of “diapause” which resembles hibernation.

As we look around, some animals remain just where they are during the winter. It is neat to see squirrels scampering from tree to tree gathering nuts and other goodies to store for their winter survival. Too, animals may eat a variety of  different foods as the seasons begin to change. Some find lodging in holes in trees or logs, under a mossy rock, leaves or even under the ground.  Some animals, like bears, chipmunks, skunks and bats, hibernate during the winter. Hibernation is a special, deep sleep. These animals survive from their stored body fat.

Some animals that live in the water move to the lake, pond, river bottoms or bay bottoms to live during the winter. It is a science fact that cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, so animals like alligators, frogs and turtles are able to still breathe by absorbing it through their skins. During these cold months as you drive over rivers, by ponds, or around lakes, you can point out that animals may be sleeping at the bottom.  

4. Also celebrate the season of fall with different seasonal food favorites such as cooking baked apples with butter, sugar or cinnamon. This is nutritious but also a favorite of young children. I love to surprise my classes with a treat by safely making this in my crock-pot. What a treat just smelling it all day long. There are so many recipes out there for this kind of family activity. Too, pumpkin pies, if you choose to do it from the real pumpkin or from a can, can be enjoyed by children this fall season. Boiled peanuts are another Southern seasonal favorite with families. We also seem to crave hot chocolate as the cool fall air begins to turn our thoughts toward winter. Children certainly get caught up with the excitement as the seasons begin to change. Spread out a quilt or blanket and enjoy an autumn picnic.

5. Point out to your child that people are beginning to buy and make warmer clothes to wear during the fall. A gentle reminder of grabbing that sweater will keep your child healthy and warm. It is so neat to rake leaves during the fall and make a family fun activity by jumping into the pile. One sees chopped wood beginning to pile up by the sides of homes and stores as fall brings the excitement of cool nights. Even in Lee County, when the first really cold night hits, point out to your childrenthe smell of the smoke coming from people’s fireplaces in the neighborhood.

6. Of course, a lot of family time is spent with the fall sports.Many weekly nights are spent cheering on leagues in Lee County as young children learn the rules of the game. It is not about who wins, but how you play the game and sportsmanship that matters.

I hope some of these fall delights will get you and your family  enjoying the simple pleasures of fall, truly savoring every minute of the season. As you look back over what I have suggested, you will see the activities are not costly. Simple pleasures of sight, smell, touch, sound and taste are the best and most remembered by your young child!

Classroom Observer

Beth Pinyerd 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here