In the last few months, Minnesotans have engaged in outdoor play and exploration in a whole new way. This has included exploring our own backyards, as well as local city, county, and state parks. Taking a fall color walk through your neighborhood or local park can be a way to see the landscape in a whole new way while promoting school readiness skills, scientific thinking, and a love of nature.

Before you go on your walk:

  • Before leaving, ask your learner to make a prediction about what colors they expect to see on your walk.
  • Using paper and crayons or markers on hand, make a color wheel of all possible colors you may see. Be sure to include all the colors from the rainbow. Remember, fall is a transition between summer flowers and tree leaves changing, so don’t forget to include purples, pinks, and greens in your wheel!
  • Bring your color wheel with you and a notebook to write down things you observe that are those colors. Remember that early literacy and writing skills begin with kids observing adults reading and writing, so even if they are not old enough to write or draw observations, make sure they see you modeling data collection.
  • Pick a route to walk that will take at least 15 minutes and is an area where trees and plants are visible. It can be a walk around the neighborhood, a local or state park. The idea is to look at a familiar place in a new way.
  • Bring a bag or basket to collect small items to bring back to your house to examine further.

On your walk:

  • Look at the color wheel and write or draw examples of things that are that color.
  • If items are small and you have permission to remove them, take colorful items home with you to look at further or do art projects with. Remember that flowers and leaves shouldn’t be picked from living plants and that you should always have permission from a park or property owner to take something home.

Colors you might find on your walk:

  • Yellow: Coneflowers, sunflowers, goldenrod, tree leaves changing
  • Red: Planted flowers, tree leaves changing
  • Orange: Aster varieties, winter grasses, tree leaves changing
  • Purple: Flowers such as violets or bluebells
  • Grey: Tree bark, sticks, rocks
  • Green: Leaves, grass
  • Pink: Flowers like milkweed or planted varieties

After your walk:

  • Take a closer look at what you collected using a hand lens. Is it the same color inside as out?
  • Use collected materials to create collages of what fall means to you

The great thing about color wonder wanders is that they don’t just have to happen in the Fall! By walking the same route every few days you can watch the colors change before your eyes as the seasons change. You can also help your child to sharpen their observation skills, understand cause and effect, look for patterns, and feel more connected to their local environment.

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.