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Autumn: Way In or Way Out?

Autumn is beginning

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To explore our understanding of the different aspects of the beginning of autumn.

Preparation and materials


  1. Tell the students that you have always found the autumn term quite confusing. It is a time of both beginnings and endings.

    Some things are starting in autumn. Ask the students, ‘Can you think of any examples?’

    Listen to a range of responses or encourage group discussions.

    Answers could include the school year, the football season, new TV series and so on.

  2. However, some things are ending in autumn. Ask the students, ‘Can you think of any examples?’

    Listen to a range of responses or encourage group discussions.

    Answers could include sunny weather, lighter evenings, holidays and so on.

  3. Point out that for farmers, autumn is the busiest time of year. They have to harvest their fruit and vegetables, and work every hour available.

  4. You may wish to read (or ask a student to read) the poem ‘To autumn’ by John Keats. It is available at:

  5. Suggest that it can be a little depressing when September starts. Everything that has brightened up life for the past few months might seem to be coming to an end. The holidays are over, suddenly a distant memory, and winter looms on the horizon. It would be easy to perceive that a long, dark tunnel called winter is all that stretches ahead of us.

    However, maybe it would be more helpful to think of ourselves as solar-powered people. We can enjoy every ray of sunshine before the bad weather sets in and store up all the sunshine, optimism and enjoyment of summer in our cells. Then, it can be released slowly through the shorter days and longer nights that lie ahead. It may be autumn, but it’s not winter yet!

  6. Autumn brings with it aspects of life that are beginning too. Whatever we may feel about the ups and downs of school life, it gives us a framework, a set of opportunities to take us through to springtime. It may be the fixture list for our sports team, whether we play or spectate. It may be academic targets. What do we aim to achieve in mock exams as a springboard for the real event in early summer, and where might that lead? The start of the autumn term can create the urge to move on, a great motivator. It’s important to harness that urge now and run with it, not allow ourselves to get held back. Autumn is preparation and go time.

Time for reflection

Let’s consider where we are right now. Autumn isn’t simply the season after summer and before winter. There is so much to enjoy for its own sake. It’s a time to be outdoors while we still can and to open every one of our senses.

There’s so much to see, particularly the changing colours. It’s also a time to enjoy the smell, taste and texture of freshly picked fruit, whether we buy it from a shop or pick it ourselves. Blackberries are delicious and they grow everywhere, even on waste ground in our largest cities. In addition, if you look up, you may notice that birds are acting differently. Some gather, ready to make the long journey to warmer climates. Others are preparing safe refuges for the winter, eating themselves fat on the abundant berries. There are also the colours, the vast array of beauty that we so often do not take the time to observe.


‘A whole new world’ from the film Aladdin, available at: (3.09 minutes long, but you can start it from 0.39 minutes)

Extension activities

Display the poem ‘To autumn’ by John Keats.

Draw five columns on the whiteboard, one for each of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell).

Challenge the students to find the most references to each sense from the lines of the poem. End by discussing which of these sensory experiences is the class favourite.

Publication date: September 2021   (Vol.23 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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