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Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Fall Family Traditions + Gratitude Journal

Growing up in Texas, cooler weather and changing leaves usually arrived at the same time as Christmas. Now that we have moved to the Midwest, our girls get to experience a TRUE fall: harvest, apple-picking, pumpkin patches, and jumping in HUGE piles of leaves in the yard. We also have been able to start new fall family traditions! 

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Fall Family Traditions:

  • Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.
  • Rake up leaves from the yard and jump in them. (Bonus points for raking a neighbor’s yard, too!)
  • Go on a nature hike and gather items for a homemade wreath craft.
  • Complete a family puzzle or LEGO set over a few weeks’ time.
  • Listen to an audiobook on the couch while doing a project.
  • Participate in our fall reading challenge.
  • Invite a family over for a meal.
    This can be for Thanksgiving (think of someone who doesn’t have extended family nearby) or another meal during the month of November. Have your children help plan the menu, go shopping, set the table, and prepare the meal together. Teach your children about serving others and being hospitable.
  • Do a family service project.
    Gather items for the local food pantry or women’s shelter. Snuggle dogs or cats at the animal shelter. Write letters for veterans. Create small care packages for the homeless (warm socks, toiletry items, snacks). Participate in Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree.   
  • Bake (or buy) cookies and talk about what each family member is grateful for. You can make a gratitude jar, banner, or start a gratitude journal to add to each year.

Fall Family Traditions | family activity ideas, teaching kids to be grateful, helping others, gratitude journal for families, making a difference


Make a Gratitude Journal:

When your children are old enough to understand what “thankful” means, go out and buy a family journal. I would recommend one with unlined pages and a spiral binding.

Decorate the cover together with fabric or scrapbook paper. Trace each child’s hand on a page in the journal and allow them to fill it in with markers, stickers, colored paper, magazine scraps, etc. Write down what they are thankful for (or let them write in the journal) and date the entries. Each year, bring the journal out and reminisce about previous years.

Start a new family tradition: create a gratitude journal!


Join our Fall Reading Challenge:

Reading aloud with your children for 15 minutes a day can have significant impact on your:

  • family bond
  • child’s love for learning
  • child’s emotional and academic success
  • and MORE!

You can grab our FREE printable reading log and get details about our November book giveaway below.

Grab our free printable reading log at rollingprairiereaders.com!

Best Fall Books for Readers of All Ages

Best Fall Books for Readers of All Ages

Cooler temperatures are arriving all across the country! (If you’re still suffering from “fall heat” in Texas or California, I sympathize.) It won’t be long before we’ll all curled up on couches under cozy blankets, and if you’re anything like me–you’ll want a good book with you. Here’s my list of the best fall books; be sure to leave a comment with YOUR favorites.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)


Scroll down to the bottom for information about our fall reading challenge and giveaway!


Best Fall Books for Babies and Toddlers

My toddler loved every book written by Liesbet Slegers. Check to see if your library carries them!

I’ve read the entire “Mouse and Minka” series too many times to count! These are definitely worth adding to the family library.

Little Blue Truck just feels like a fall book, doesn’t it?

Best Fall Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

While Fletcher learns about fall, he teaches us about kindness and being a good friend.

My girls love this book, and I do too! Frog and Toad is a classic; it sure reminds me of my childhood.

Kevin Henkes is most well-known for his sweet books about mice (Owen and Chrysanthemum are two of our favorites!), but In the Middle of Fall is also a wonderful book to read aloud! (Especially if you live in a part of the country that gets snow.)

Lois Ehlert might be one of my very favorite author-illustrators. Not only does she use interesting materials to create fascinating images in her books, but she also includes little details about how she came up with the idea of her story/illustrations, which is fascinating for adults and aspiring authors and artists.

Best Fall Books | fall books for kids, fall books to read, fall read aloud, fall books for adults, read aloud activities, free printable

Best Non-Fiction Fall Books

Now that we live in the Midwest, my girls are learning a lot about farming. This book is a great introduction for children who might not have experienced farm life for themselves.

One of my girls LOVES non-fiction text, and she loves this book. Full of photographs and information about identifying trees by their leaves makes this a great read for science-lovers and novices alike.

Best Fall Books for Bigger Kids

If you live in a climate without snow, this book is a great one to read by the Christmas tree with your iced tea. 😉

You may know Mo Willems for Knuffle Bunny and Elephant & Piggie. This sweet story has a different feeling, but it’s a lovely book to read with your young writers to teach cyclical storytelling.

I found Wonderfall on a display at my local library. It’s full of clever puns and fun word choice. It’s a great example of a picture book that is just right for older readers. 😉

Best Fall Books for Tweens and Teens

I read this book in one afternoon and then immediately put it into the hands of my 9-year-old. It’s a beautiful story!

Kate DiCamillo is a gifted writer. Her stories are so worth reading aloud with your children. I would recommend starting with this one.

My own girls aren’t ready for the Wingfeather Saga just yet, but I loved all four books. This series is on par with Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. (How often can you say that?!)

I love Anne of Green Gables (as any reader alive in the 1980s probably does), but Emily and all the folks at New Moon hold a special place in my heart. This is a great series to binge read under a blanket.

I love this book. <3

Best Fall Books | fall books for kids, fall books to read, fall read aloud, fall books for adults, read aloud activities, free printable

Best Fall Books for Adults

Nothing helps your children fall in love with books like seeing you read a book! These are four I have loved.

Beautiful story.

Katherine Reay writes really engaging fiction. This is her first book, and it remains my favorite!

If you like non-fiction books, I highly recommend this one. Engaging story made even more amazing by the fact that it’s true.

I never expected to love this book, but I did. Fantastic story, but note: there is a lot of language sprinkled throughout.


Does your family love to read?

Reading aloud with your children for 15 minutes a day can have significant impact on your:

  • family bond
  • child’s love for learning
  • child’s emotional and academic success
  • and MORE!

Join our fall reading challenge by clicking on the image or scroll down to the signup form below!

Fall in Love with Reading Challenge from Rolling Prairie Readers | free reading log printable

Making Learning Fun for All Families | Two Moms, One Podcast

Making Learning Fun for All Families | Two Moms, One Podcast

A while back, I had the opportunity to chat with Yvonne and Raewyn at the Two Moms, One Podcast show. The moms asked me to come on and talk about a topic I’m passionate about: making learning fun for all families.

For whatever reason, it seems like kids of this generation are growing up thinking that learning is hard and reading is boring. While we could talk about standards and excessive testing, I think a major issue to consider is that our children don’t have much free time. (Certainly school wasn’t any more fun a generation or two ago.)

I have lots of great memories of hands-on fun at school. We got to incubate and hatch chicks, make a solar kitchen, go on the “Oregon Trail,” dress up for pioneer day, etc. After school, I would run outside with my neighborhood friends for hours. We had a lot of freedom to explore and learn new things through discovery.

To contrast, this generation goes to school all day, followed immediately by after-school activities and sports programs. Our kids are surrounded by information (often instant access on the phones in our pockets), but somehow seem disconnected from the discovery process. It breaks my heart to hear the negative feelings our kids have about  learning.

When Yvonne and Raewyn asked me for tips that parents can use to make learning fun and bring hands-on learning experiences back to our family culture, I was more than happy to share!


Listen to Melissa Droegemueller of Rolling Prairie Readers talk about making learning fun on the Two Moms, One Podcast show.

You can click here to listen to the podcast,
or scroll on for my best tips and resource recommendations.


(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Making Learning Fun

  • What should your child be learning?
    This will take a bit of research. Get familiar with your state standards website and also chat with your child’s teacher about current learning objectives in the classroom. Another great resource is the Core Knowledge series of books, which make it easy to know exactly What Your First Grader Needs to Know.


You may be interested in our Age-Appropriate Learning Workshop!


  • Match up your child’s interests with a new skill. Teachers can’t always tailor every lesson to a child’s specific personality and learning style, but parents can! Bring in a sensory tray for your young writer or take your kinesthetic learner out to the trampoline to practice math facts.  If you’re not sure exactly how to create a personalized learning plan for your child, then be sure to sign up for our freebie!
  • Talk positively about school, education, and learning. We all want our children to graduate and get a job. We also want to inspire and empower our children to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place. That can only happen when our kids read for fun and learn outside of the classroom.
  • Build stamina with your little ones before they start school. Read aloud often. Allow them to create art and build cities with their blocks. Take them outside to explore nature. Most importantly, play games where they are expected to take turns, follow directions, and finish a task. Buy toys that can be used in a variety of ways to extend the experience. (See our must-have materials for learning at home.)
  • Create a flexible learning environment at home. Children aren’t meant to sit in desks all day long. Let your kids lay on the floor, work at the couch, bounce on an exercise ball, or do their homework outside. Take frequent brain breaks. Dance, take a walk, hang upside down…

FREE Personalized Learning Plan: custom learning activities for your toddler or preschooler!

Get a FREE personalized learning plan for your child!


Making Math Fun

Utilize your child’s learning style to practice math at home. Let your tactile learner use “manipulatives” to act out the problems. Teach your visual learner to draw the information and find key words. Make up skip-counting songs for your auditory learner to learn their math facts. Play Uno, Rack-O, and Pass the Pigs. (See our favorite math toys here.)

Making Language Arts Fun

Read-aloud from a young age! Go to the library often, and bring home books that interest your child. Read a book together, and then watch the movie as a family. Write about family trips when you get home! Go to author events and buy signed copies of books. Try book subscriptions and book clubs.

Making Science Fun

Try a new experiment each weekend. (You can get family science activity ideas on my Pinterest board here.) Go on nature walks and explore animal habitats in your area. If you’re okay with quality screen time, then you could watch either Rachel and the Treeschoolers or the new Magic School Bus.

Making History Fun

Some children will love to learn more about history by reading books. Series like The Magic Treehouse, I Survived, and Who Was….? can bring the past to life. You can also watch age-appropriate documentaries and take family field trips to history centers all around your state!

Making Geography Fun

Obviously, there is no better way to expose your kids to geography than traveling together. You can explore maps, directions like north, east, south, and west, learn about public transportation graphics, and distance. Children can also learn about landmarks, natural resources, and other cultures. Even if you can’t go far, family adventures are one of the best ways to make learning fun!

There are many ways to strengthen geography skills from home, too. Buy maps and globes, stock your family library with a quality atlas, and explore the world through webcams and travel sites.  You can even use classic games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? or Stack the States!

Making Learning Fun | parenting, families, hands-on learning activities for parents and kids, tips for parents, math, science, history, geography

Making learning fun at home is an attainable goal for all families. Try one new learning experience each week! Choose positive language about school, and most of all, model lifelong learning for your kids. If I can help at all, just let me know!