As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler and longer, the green leaves of summer begin to change into an array of beautiful colors. The red, gold and orange leaves that we so enjoy in fall depend on type of tree as well as several seasonal factors that trigger the biochemical processes that cause leaves to change color: cool nights, sunlight intensity and rainfall.
Food-making chlorophyll is what makes leaves look green during the spring and summer, but its properties change as autumn approaches. The yellows that were previously hidden by all that green begin to show, and the newly-formed pigments determine the colors of fall leaves.
Other environmental factors affect the color intensity and the length of time that trees retain their leaves. While cool temperatures often result in brilliant color, freezing temperatures can mute color and cause trees to lose their leaves sooner than they might otherwise. Dull, overcast days will result in poor colors. Leaves that are shaded often only change to yellow as chlorophyll breaks down.
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Find some newly fallen leaves and place them on a newspaper. Here are three different ways to make leaf prints:
Leaf rubbings: Place a piece of construction paper on top of the leaf and rub a crayon over it. The pattern of the leaf and its veins will show up on the paper. Use the same color crayon as the leaf and then get creative by adding other colors.
Foiled leaves: Place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the leaf. Press and rub on it until the leaf print shows through. Cut out the foiled leaf print and glue it to some cardboard, so that it retains its shape.
Leaf Prints: Paint one side of each of the leaves with different colored craft paint. Arrange the leaves on a piece of lightly colored construction paper, with the paint side down. Place another piece of newspaper on top and rub over the leaves with the back of a spoon or roller. Lift off the newspaper and pick up the construction paper. Impressions of the leaves create a colorful image on the construction paper.
On your hunt for beautiful fall leaves, try this orienteering game. Look around in the distance for a hiding place to put a treasure (like a bag of treats or a small trinket) and the next clue-behind a tree, under a bush or hanging from a branch.
Hold a compass at chest height so that it is flat and level enough for the needle to spin freely. Once it is pointing steadily in one direction, turn the compass so that the "N" (north) lines up with the red arrow. Look to your hiding spot and look down at the compass to read the "degrees" which point to the spot. Make sure that the red arrow still points north.
Walk to the first hiding spot and count your steps along the way. Write down the number of steps and the course (in degrees) on a small piece of paper that you will give to the children at the starting point. For smaller children, you can modify the game to use a cardinal direction instead of degrees; for example 120 steps, northwest. Make sure that you take child-size steps, so that the measurements are accurate.
For the next clue, look for another hiding spot, take a compass bearing, count the steps and write it down. Leave this second clue at the first hiding spot. You can continue with as many hiding spots as you like.
At the starting location, give each player a piece of paper with the first clue and a compass to help them on their way.
A Tree Story
We can notice the different shapes and colors of leaves, but can you match those leaves to the correct tree? Fold several sheets of colored construction paper in half like a book. Find a tree with some leaves that are within reach or have fallen to the ground. On the first inside page, hold or tape the paper to the tree's bark and rub a crayon over it to make a pattern. Now take the leaf and either glue it to the opposite page, or make a rubbing of the leaf (see above for directions). Take a picture of your tree and glue it to the front of the book. Make sure to write the name of the tree on the cover. For each different species of tree, make a new tree story book.
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Crab Fishing Clinic - Corey Beach, Bayport
Saturday, September 27 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Come celebrate National Estuaries Day! This clinic focuses on crab fishing techniques, crab biology and stewardship. Participants must bring 1-2 uncooked package(s) of boned chicken pieces and a flashlight. Optional items include: kite string, crab net(s), crab trap(s) and a bucket. For more information, please visit the I Fish New York website. To register, please call Malynda Nichol at 631-444-0283.
Children's Saltwater Clinic - Captree State Park, Fisherman's Walk Pier
Saturday, October 4 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Beginning anglers learn basic fishing techniques, fishing regulations, fish biology, and marine ecology. Open fishing follows. Loaner rods and free bait are available at every event! Age: Children under 14. Cost: $6 parking fee; free with Empire Passport. For more information, please visit the I Fish New York website. To register, please call Malynda Nichol at 631-444-0283.
Freedom Trail Hike
Saturday, September 27 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Let a naturalist be your guide to the diverse terrain covered on this two-and-a-half-mile hike including rock walls, hills, wetlands, fields and forest. We'll look for wildlife signs; deer, woodpeckers, foxes, raccoons and opossums can all be found here.
Saturday, October 4 from noon to 5:00 PM
Our 30th annual Harvest Festival is co-sponsored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Stony Kill Foundation, Inc., our citizens' support group. This year's festival will feature nature-related and environmental exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on family activities, a hayride, open barn, and music by Beacon's "Howland Wolves." Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Free admission, but donations to the Stony Kill Foundation appreciated!
Saturday, September 27 at 2:00 PM
In celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day, join us for a field study of the natural history of deer as we search for rubs, tracks, scrapes, and other indicators of the season's prospects.
Fall Color on the Vlomankill
Saturday, October 4 at 2:00 PM
Come enjoy the beauty of autumn's colors on a long forest trail that skirts a stream.
Fall Flowers at Cush Hill
Saturday, September 27 at 10:00 AM
Explore Cush Hill's wide variety of autumn flowers as we walk the trails and field edges for some blooming beauties. Meet in the main parking lot.
Saturday, October 4 at 11:00 AM
Learn the basics of composting and how you can help the environment and save money doing it. Led by guest speaker Judy Sellers, Master Gardener of Cooperative Extension.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Morning Bird Walk
Sunday, September 28 at 9:00 AM
Search for migrating and resident birds along the trails. Bring binoculars if you have them.
Fungus Among Us
Saturday, October 4 at 10:30 AM
Learn about nature's recyclers in Reinstein Woods. For adults and children ages ten and older only.
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