Today is the official start of autumn and, blogger that I am, I'm getting excited about thick tights, hazy skies and 70s colours.
I'm particularly excited because this year Matilda will be old enough to sort-of-almost-kind-of appreciate the changing season.
Entertaing a toddler in the autumn seems like quite an undertaking, though, doesn't it? It's cold, wet, muddy and often windy; to go outside, you both need more layers of clothes than you can reasonably be expected to wear; but if you stay indoors you soon run out of both inspiration and episodes of Bing.
So I've gathered together loads of ideas for keeping a one year old busy - some indoors; most outdoors because, cold as it is, kids need fresh air, exercise and dirt.
First thing's first, though. To make the most of autumn, toddlers need: wellies (I'm thinking about buying Matilda a second pair - I've learned the hard way that they can take aaaaaaaaaages to dry); a puddlesuit; and waterproof gloves for them to refuse to wear. Grown ups will also need wellies.
I recommend carrying a small bag for gathering up tiny pieces of nature; a couple of small towels or absorbent muslins for drying off swings, slides and toddlers; and, whenever possible, a change of shoes and a plastic bag for carrying home mucky wellies.
All set? Here we go:
Charge through piles of fallen leaves.
Let your toddler spend as long as s/he likes arranging the leaves into patterns only s/he can understand.
Gather brightly coloured leaves up in a bucket (accept that your toddler may be less discerning than you; be prepared for a bucket full of tatty, sodden brown mulch).
Make a crown by sticking leaves to a strip of cardboard using double sided sticky tape or contact paper.
Make an autumn leaf suncatcher using red, orange and yellow tissue paper.
Pick and eat wild brambles.
Scent homemade play dough with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Splash in puddles.
Huddle under a see-through umbrella watching the rain pour down onto it.
Track raindrops down the window with your fingers.
Float corks, leaves, rubber ducks and anything else you fancy in puddles.
Drop food colouring into puddles and watch it swirl.
Find tiny pools of water on leaves.
Look for your reflections in puddles; dance at them.
Stomp in mud. Swirl it with a stick.
Make mud pies or slop mud in and out of tubs.
Search for snails.
Make soup - give them a tub of warm water to scrub potatoes in; if you're feeling brave, help them chop up soft vegetables (Matilda first did this at sixteen months).
Do apple printing.
Install a bird feeder. Get a scoop and let your toddler help you fill it.
Make birdcake (thanks to Lizzie for this idea).
Gather pine cones. Press them into play dough or save them for Christmas.
Find and drop sycamore helicopters. See if you can make them spin.
Spin around until you're dizzy.
Wave your hands through all the rain droplets gathered at the bottom of the playground slide.
Run down small (dry) grassy slopes shouting "Wheeeeeeee!"; slide down small (wet) grassy slopes on your puddlesuited bottom (for grown ups: a plastic bag).
Stamp in wet grass then leave soggy footprint trails on a path.
Tie ribbons to sticks and watch them flutter in the wind.
Stick pinwheels in the garden and watch them spin.
Blow glow-in-the-dark bubbles (equal parts bubble mix and glow-in-the-dark paint); this is a good alternative to the fireworks if you're not sure your toddler is ready for whizzes and bangs.
Mix spices with a little water and use them to paint.
Gather your weeds and deadheaded flowers in a tub; let your toddler drop them into the compost bin.
Plant spring bulbs together - let your toddler jab at the compost with a trowel or kiddie-sized fork; give them their own plant pots to play with.
Read autumnal books together - Matilda absolutely loves The Foggy Foggy Forest (and I'd love some recommendations, too).
What would you add to this list?
These ideas are suitable for most one year olds (I took as my guide: could Matilda have done/appreciated this at fifteen months?); for some more advanced ideas, check out my Autumn Pinterest board.