For so many people Autumn is their favourite time of year. The beautiful colours, natural treasures, the smell of autumn, fallen leaves and autumn crafts.

Autumn begins in September and is a season famous for its harvest times, turning leaves, cooling temperatures and darkening nights.

Did you know that Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes tree leaves green and as it declines other chemicals become more prominent in the leaves. These are responsible for the vibrant ambers, reds and yellows of autumn. The chemicals responsible are types of flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins. These chemicals are the same ones that give carrots (beta-carotenes) and egg yolks (luteins) their colours?

15 ideas for Autumn play and learn activities in the Early Years

  1. Autumn Tray Play
Wicker Tray Play - naturals
Autumn activity ideas
Autumn activity ideas

2. Nature Treasure Hunt

Autumn is a lovely time to pull on the wellies and go on a natural treasures hunt. Take a basket and collect leaves of all colours from green to yellow, orange and brown. Collect acorn, pine cones, sticks, conkers, horse chestnuts. Display them back in your setting to identify, discuss and use in autumn crafts, displays and set ups.

Autumn activity ideas

3. Natural Loose Part Treasure Counting

Use your Autumn treasure finds for counting. Acorns, conkers and pine cones make excellent alternatives to plastic counters.

wooden ten frames
tray play - ark Group - nature

4. Small World Autumnal Play

Create small worlds with your natural autumnal treasures. Add wooden woodland animals, insects, create the Gruffalo Story in a tray. Tell stories of Squirrels, hiding the nuts in the leaves to find and count.

wicker mirror circle tray play ideas
Wicker Tray Play - woodland small world play
Autumn activity ideas

5. Spooky Haloween Mushrooms

Have you seen our Spooky Halloween Mushroom activity? Super simple and perfect for little hands. Find out how to make them here.

6. Orange Pepper Carving

Pumpkin carving couldn't be simpler for little hands. Simply use an Orange Pepper instead of a pumpkin. Add a battery-operated tea light to make it more magical. Find out how we made ours in our easy to make blog post here.

Autumn activity ideas

7. Leaf faces

Make leaf characters by adding googly eyes and other found natural treasures. Glue them together using pva or simply create transient art in a loose frame.

Crate ideas

8. Autumn Story Crate

Set up a story crate with autumn provocations and a book to accompany it.

Autumn activity ideas
Image credit to Claire Wilson Childminding
Autumn activity ideas

9. Make an Autumn wreath

Use Autumn leaves of every colour and PVA then to a cardboard wreath shape.

10. Autumn leaf kebabs

Add an autumn leaf kebab to your mud kitchen. Simply provide skewers, remove the sharp end and allow children to collect leaves of all colour and pierce them on. Cook them up in your Mud Kitchen or Rustic Oven.

Autumn activity ideas

11. Natural Mandalas

Create natural mandalas with your autumn treasures and loose parts.

mirror tray play ideas
Autumn activity ideas

12. Autumn Mud Kitchen

So many great opportunities in an autumn mud kitchen. Use your loose part treasures to make soup, tea and mud pies. The beautiful colours are so inviting.

Autumn activity ideas
Autumn activity ideas

13. Halloween Setups

Create a Halloween set-up full of provocations for play and learning. Add a cauldron of sensory slime with eyeballs and spider to extract, mix and stir. Add potion bottles for mixing a witches brew and number frames for counting loose parts or spiders.

Halloween Crate ideas

14. Autumn Potion making

Make potions with your natural treasures. Use Slime or simple water with added ingredients. Add food colouring if you wish, fresh herbs, tea bags.

Autumn activity ideas
Autumn activity ideas

15. Weaving a spiders web

Use wicker weaving frames to weave your own spiders web. Such a fun activity, getting those little hands working, great for fine and gross motor skills.

Autumn activity ideas

16. Make an autumn leaf umbrella - how fab is this idea from Cosy Club member @mummy_nature_and_me. Just LOVE it!!

Autumn activity ideas

Let us know which are your favourite ideas and tag us in your autumn play activities. We'd love to see! @cosydirect #cosytuffspot


With thanks to The Cosy Creatives and Cosy Club Members for this blog post and images.