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Up in the Northeast, the autumn woods feel like the world's most spectacular, long-running and totally free magic show. The vibrant colors and varied shapes that fall through the sky and cover the ground are captivating and define this time of year. Now that we are in so many communities, we know that there are fallen flowers, leaves and other treasures on forest floors across the country.
So, if you want a simple and memorable way to pique kids' interest during peak season, peek no further. Collect petals, leaves, berries, seed pods, stones and other treasures and arrange them to make your very own magic carpets.
Planning, designing and making a “magic carpet” develops a kid's ability to turn a vision into a reality—an essential part of creativity. Further, the imaginative play that follows makes this a super imagination-boosting activity. Gathering materials and placing them to create a carpet requires that kids stay focused until the task is complete. If kids aren’t ready to complete the carpet, do not despair! Participating in any part of this is still practice that helps develop their ability to direct and sustain focus.
Most carpets, magic or otherwise, are full of patterns of repeated colors and shapes. Kids can explore such patterns as they make their own “magic carpets.” Why is pattern-making important? Patterns are everywhere in our world. When we learn to see patterns, we can make predictions and notice when things are not as they should be—critical skills we all need for learning, relating to others and simply navigating the world. Patterns are also the basis for algebra and much of the magic in mathematics. The more children play with pattern, the more readily they can make sense of these higher level math concepts later on.