Our oldest daughter Kenna, was home for a week recently from her home in North Carolina. I loved watching my nearly grown kids (now 23, 19 & 16) talk, laugh and reminisce. It took me back to falls when they were little shavers. We loved to sit under a tree in the yard, read a fun fall-themed book and then do an activity associated with the book.
So I thought, for those of you with small children in your life, I’d tell you about a few of our family’s favorite fun fall read alouds. (My kids loved these books when they were young!) There are a few suggested activities to go along with them, too. These books also make a great fall-time just-because-I-was-thinking-about-you gift for a family with children.
I also want to share with you our favorite simple fall snack to munch on as a family or with company if you are having others over. Enjoy!
The Pumpkin Patch Parable (by my friend Liz Curtis Higgs)
This charming story for children illustrates how a loving farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a glorious sight. In the same way, God’s transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light.
Liz created this parable as a way to share the Good News with her own precious children each harvest season . . . and now with children everywhere. Scripture verses are woven throughout, and many lessons about God “cleaning us up” are taught.
Our kids always finished off our annual reading of this with carving “happy pumpkins.”
For fun, whip up a batch of these pumpkin-based cookies before your reading session, and then read the book while the treat is baking in the oven or cooling on the counter.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly beat in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. In a medium sized bowl, mix all dry ingredients but pecans. Stir dry mixture into wet and mix well on low speed. By hand, gently stir in pecans.
Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.
Next, these two apple books are fun to read before slicing up a platter of apples and making the yummy apple dip below.
How to Make an Apple Pie & See the World (by Marjorie Priceman)
So she ventures off, via various modes of transportation, to gather seminola wheat in Italy, a chicken (for its egg) in France, bark from the kurundu (cinnamon) tree in Sri Lanka, a cow (for butter) in England, salt water and sugar cane in Jamaica, and apples in Vermont.
Soon a delicious pie is baked, and friends are invited to share. Children from all of the countries in which the foods have been found gather round the table.
A recipe for apple pie is included on the final page. Delightfully and brightly illustrated. This was a hit with my kids!
Three in One: A Picture of God (by Joanne Marxhausen)
After reading it, try your hand at stamping using sliced apples and crate paint on thick craft paper. If you cut an apple in half from top to bottom, you can dip it in paint and make apple stamps that look like an apple. If you cut the apple from side to side across the middle, the center makes a star effect. Experiment with different cuts and colors of apples from traditional red, green, and yellow to any color of the rainbow!
Pick up a great fall book and make your own memories with the little ones in your life!
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted salted peanuts
Blend all but peanuts until smooth. Just before serving, fold in peanuts.
Serve with a tart eating apple such as Cortland, Granny Smith, Braeburn or Gala. To keep sliced apples from turning brown, soak in lemon-lime pop and drain. Enjoy!!