Mar 1

How We Help Kids Embrace Change With a Special Walk

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Once you have kids, the dwindling daylight that hits you in late fall can go from an irksome change to something that upends whatever sense of control you have over your schedule, shifting kids' sleep, moods, and even behavior. Plus, you are losing daylight to do whatever you love to do. And since the pandemic started, when the outdoors seem to be the safest place for social connections and meet ups, the lack of daylight even cramps our chances to connect with friends. So, it's pretty easy to get down when we turn the clocks back. 

This negative feeling is exactly what Brian—my husband and Tinkergarten co-founder—and I were experiencing eleven years ago when we lived in Brooklyn with two kiddos under age three. We resented the darkness, the change in schedule, and how it limited our outdoor time. But then we realized we didn't want our kids to see us railing against the inevitable changes in life—weren't we trying to prepare them to roll with whatever life handed them?

There is nothing permanent except change.—Heraclitus

How a Tradition Grew

That's when we got the idea for Lantern Walk, now a national event in its eleventh straight year. 

We couldn’t ignore that we would miss that end-of-day sunlight, but was whining about it the best way to show up—especially since that change was happening with or without us? That got us thinking about how much better it could be for all of us if we found a way to embrace, even celebrate this inevitable change.

A friend in London had told us about a lantern walk they went to, and the idea was really appealing. Meet darkness with light! So we put a notice up on our local parent Yahoo! Group and invited neighbors to make or bring lanterns and meet up for a walk in Prospect Park the eve after we turned the clocks back. We were blown away. Over a hundred people showed up with kids, friends, guitars and lights of all kinds. It was magical. 

It turns out, the whole thing is rather universal. There are lantern and light festivals all over the world roughly around this time of year, from the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in China and Vietnam to Germany's St. Martin's Day festival. This Fall Lantern Walk tradition is tapping into that same power of light, hope and community.

Our Tinkergarten Lantern Walk is still simple, honoring the cycles of nature with homemade "lanterns"  that kids can design themselves, or even just by joining in and holding flashlights. We sing songs. We honor the cycles of nature. We share gratitude and acknowledge the history of the land and waters we share. And we stand together, beholding the beauty of the moment together.

The chance to walk outdoors at dusk is an especially delightful and rare experience for kids, and we all benefit from the chance to open our senses to sounds, sights, and smells you just can’t experience in the daylight. 


Join Us for This Year's Walk!

Now, for the tradition! We welcome you, your friends and families to step out and join in the 11th year of our Fall Lantern Walk! There are ways for everyone to participate:

Browse our list of Tinkergarten Teacher led walks and click to join if there’s a walk near you!

Or organize a walk in your community! Visit our Lantern Walk event page to learn how to make homemade lanterns, listen to Lantern Walk songs and even download a free guide to hosting a walk for yourself, your circle of family and friends, or your whole community.  Share with others and gather together to bring in the new season.

However you celebrate—help your kids make a lantern, light a light, and welcome in the change. Add your stories and beautiful images to the community celebration by tagging @tinkergarten and #TGLanternWalk. We’d love to celebrate with you!

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.—Thich Nhat Hanh



Meghan Fitzgerald


After 20+ years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, I have my dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including my own, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, I worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. I earned a BA with majors in English and Developmental Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained to become a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. My worldview is formed in response to my environment, culture, family, identity and experiences. What I write in this blog will inevitably betray the blind spots I have as a result—we all have them! Please reach out if there are other perspectives or world views I could consider in anything I write about. I welcome the chance to learn and update any pieces to broaden our shared perspective!

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