Autumn is not only a wonderful time of year with crunchy, colorful leaves and cooler weather, but it is also a great time to learn some new autumn facts for kids. When you think of autumn for kids, you probably think of cooler weather, going back to school, Halloween and falling leaves, but what else do you know about the season?
Autumn Facts for Kids
Autumn is one of four seasons that occurs from roughly September 21 through December 21. It is more commonly known as "fall" because the leaves fall off of deciduous trees during the season. Here are some more autumn facts for kids.
Think you know everything there is to know about leaves? You may be surprised to learn the following facts about autumn leaves:
- Leaves require sunlight, water, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide to make food for themselves.
- As winter approaches, leaves make a coating for themselves which blocks their water source; in the absence of water, the leaves no longer produce chlorophyll (chlorophyll is what makes leaves green).
- When the leaves turn colors in the fall, they actually are returning to their normal colors. During the summer months, the chlorophyll present in the leaves causes the leaves to turn green, blocking the leaves' actual colors.
- Along with chlorophyll, leaves contain two other chemicals that cause coloring. The first is called xanthophyll, which is yellow in color. The other is carotene, which is orange in color.
- Red and purple leaves are actually caused by the presence of sugars from sap that is trapped inside of the leaves.
- Once the leaves have turned brown, they are dead and no longer receive any nutrients.
Halloween is a big part of autumn. Here are some fun facts about Halloween:
- The traditional Halloween colors of orange and black come from two different sources. First, orange is the color of autumn leaves and pumpkins, which have come to symbolize Halloween. Black is the color of darkness and mystery, which matches the theme of ghosts and other spooky creatures at Halloween.
- There is no scientific proof that ghosts exist; however, there is a field of study called parapsychology that is dedicated to studying spooky phenomena like ghosts and psychic powers. Parapsychologists use scientific method to explore strange phenomena and learn more about things like ghosts.
- Halloween was originally a pagan holiday to honor the dead, and the holiday was known as All Hallows Eve. The date, October 31, is the last day of the Celtic calendar.
- Wearing masks on Halloween is an ancient Celtic tradition. Ancient Celts believed that ghosts roamed on Halloween, and they wore masks to hide from the spirits.
- Vampire folklore comes from Romania. Romanians in the 18th century believed that the dead could rise after death by suicide or other suspicious circumstances and feed on the blood of the living.
Another holiday associated with autumn is Thanksgiving. Here are some facts about Thanksgiving:
- Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday in October.
- The first pilgrims arrived in North America in December of 1620.
- The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth in the fall of 1621.
- The Native American tribe invited to the first Thanksgiving dinner were the Wampanoag Indians.
- The first Thanksgiving feast lasted for three full days.
- Thanksgiving was not recognized as an official holiday until 1941, when Congress decided that the holiday should be observed officially on the fourth Thursday in November every single year. The date was chosen by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to make the Christmas shopping season longer to aid in the country's financial recovery from the Great Depression. Prior to the date being set in 1941, it was up to the president to set the date for Thanksgiving each year.
That grinning jack-o-lantern flickering on your front porch is a versatile product of the New World.
- "Pepon," the Greek word for "large melon," gave pumpkins their name. The original pumpkins came from Central America where they are known as calabaza.
- Today pumpkins grow on every continent except Antarctica.
- Pumpkins are fruit, members of the vine crops family. They are 90 percent water.
- Pumpkin flowers, seeds and flesh are all edible and contain Vitamin A and potassium.
- Early colonists used pumpkin in pie crusts, not for filling.
- Pumpkins were once believed to fade freckles and cure snakebites.
- The biggest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 lbs. and measured 20 feet across. It was baked in Ohio and used 1,212 cans of pumpkin puree.
Fall Weather Facts
The leaves are falling and the thermometer is dropping. What can you expect from fall weather?
- The first day of fall is known as the autumnal equinox and is usually on or around September 22nd. Fall lasts until the winter solstice on or around December 21st.
- In the Northern hemisphere, nights get longer and the weather is chillier in autumn because the tilt of the planet points half the planet farther away from the sun.
- Since the days are shorter and the angle of the sun is lower, the farther you live from the equator, the less warmth reaches you. The weather goes from chilly to cold - summer to winter. Fall is known as "jacket weather," not freezing but not warm enough for short sleeves and bare feet.
- Cooler weather and less daylight signals some birds and butterflies to migrate south to warmer climates for the winter. Bats, hedgehogs and some fish hibernate instead. However, squirrels and bears just sleep a lot more, relying on stored fat or stored nuts to keep them alive.
- Evergreen trees stay green because their leaves are tightly rolled into needle shapes that are coated with a thick, wax-like protection against evaporation and cold.
- On cool, clear fall evenings, you have the best chance of seeing the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights show of spectacular colors in the night sky. The aurora borealis results from sun particles swirling into geomagnetic storms that then slam into the Earth's magnetic field.
- Early autumn is also peak hurricane season. Lower winds and warmer ocean surface temperatures after the summer create ideal conditions for major storms. By about mid-October, as the winds pick up and the ocean cools, storms get weaker and many don't even travel across the ocean from Africa.