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Activity for September:
As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, humans can see the Fall Equinox take place. Animals do the same thing—some migrate, some begin to plan their winter hibernation, and others come to the end of their lives.
Fall is a time for change in the natural world.
Activity One: What Season Is This?
The Fall Equinox is when the sun shines directly on the equator and the northern and southern hemispheres get the same amount of sun. After that day, the nights will get longer and the days will grow shorter.
According to the calendar, the Fall Equinox happens on Thursday, September 22, 2022.
Find out when the days will begin to grow longer. (Hint: check out the date of the Winter Solstice)
At what time will the sun rise on September 22, where you live? When will it set? (You can use this link to find out: www.timeanddate.com/sun/)
When do meteorologists (weather people) chart the beginning of fall/autumn? (You can use this link to find out: farmersalmanac.com/meteorological-fall)
Activity Two: Where do the Birds and Butterflies Go?
During the fall months, many birds and butterflies disappear. Most butterflies will die, but the Monarch Butterfly migrates to Mexico where it will over winter. Some Monarchs are actually tagged, so that scientists and other interested people can chart where they go.
You can learn more in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LawHWsIqa5s
Here is a great game you can play with one or two of your friends and find out which of you will be the first to move around the board and make it to Mexico! You need to print off the game board, find a dice, and gather your friends!
Many birds migrate too! Over 300 species in North America migrate each year!
Most are moving south to find more food during the colder weather. Just like us, they notice changes like the length of daylight and lower temperatures. Hummingbirds can migrate up to 1500 miles and hawks and falcons can be seen migrating over mountain ridges. Some robins migrate, but others stay around all winter.
The prize for migrating goes to the Arctic Tern that flies over 11,000 thousand miles every year!
One of the most common sights in the fall are flocks of Canada Geese. You might see them flying overhead in a V-shape and honking as they fly south in the fall. In some areas, they now live year round, but the ones that do leave come back to where they were born every year!
Here’s a great website to learn more about them: https://www.birdwatchingacademy.com/canadian-geese-migration/
If you want to learn about other birds that migrate, follow this link: https://birdfact.com/articles/why-do-birds-migrate
Activity Three: Write a Haiku About Migration!
Here’s a challenge…write a poem about birds or butterflies that migrate.
A haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that has only three lines and doesn’t have to rhyme.
It has five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line.
You can find many examples online, but just try your own thoughts.
Here’s an example:
I hear the geese above.
How do you know when to leave?
Fly on South my friends.
Activity Four: Do Trees and Plants Migrate?
Of course they don’t!
But trees do work to make sure that they will continue in the future by creating seeds and many birds feast on the seeds of weeds. These can be especially important during migration season.
The fall is a great time to collect seeds.
- Walnut and hickory nuts are fairly large and can be tasty, especially to squirrels (and us!)
- Pinecones contain small seeds
- Maple trees produce winged “helicopters”
- Sweetgums will produce “gumballs” that have tiny seeds in them
- Apples have seeds and so do many flowers (like sunflowers!)
- In September, you might find PawPaw fruit that have seeds inside the pulp (you can eat PawPaws, too! They taste like banana custard.)
Activity Five: Make a Seed Collage
You Will Need:
- Nuts, pinecones, and seeds (which you can gather on a nature walk--you can also gather them from melons, squash, pumpkins and dry them. Other seed ideas are dried beans or spices like mustard seeds.)
- A paper plate
- A pencil
- Construction paper
- To dry seeds, wash them and spread them out on a paper plate (they should dry in a few days).
- To make the collage, draw lines of glue on construction paper.
- Or, draw the outline of your design and add glue to one section at a time.
- Place your seeds in the glued area.
- Once the glue has dried, you can shake off the excess seeds.
Activity Six: Make a Nesting Box or a Birdfeeder
Birds do not need nesting boxes during the winter, but fall is a good time to think about building one for next spring.
Planning and constructing one can be a great project for family bonding time.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has numerous plans for building nest boxes including a Butterfly Hibernation Box. Regardless of the habitat where you live, you may find a free, downloadable Woodcrafting for Wildlife Plans at: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/InformationResources/GetInvolved/Pages/WildlifeHomePlans.aspx
If you would rather start small by making a birdfeeder, try this site: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/How%20to%20make%20a%20Bird%20Feeder.pdf
Parents and teachers can download the PDF version of our September activities here!
We hope you enjoyed these activities!
If you had fun with our activities, check out Conservation Connect: an environmental education program for students and teachers.
Friends of NCTC Program Activity
c. 2021, Friends of the National Conservation Training Center