Written By: Eliza Berman

Any child who grows up with a backyard overhung with deciduous trees will be familiar with a certain seasonal ritual. It goes something like this: spend five minutes raking brittle brown leaves into a pile, spend 15 minutes rolling around in said pile until it no longer resembles a pile, and repeat until the lawn is (eventually) cleared and ready for the next season’s first snow.

LIFE magazine took seriously its mission to cover all aspects of life, from major world events to the everyday joys of children. In keeping with the spirit of the latter category, Allan Grant—who could more often be found photographing the likes of Grace Kelly and Paul Newman—spent a fall day in 1953 in Rockland County, N.Y., preserving this autumnal pastime for future generations.

Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Running away from a soft bombardment of leaves thrown at him by playmates, Stewart Blickman scampers out of a leaf pile to momentary safety.

Running away from a soft bombardment of leaves thrown at him by playmates, Stewart Blickman scampered out of a leaf pile to momentary safety.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

From a low-hanging branch still carrying its leaves Heather Heid picks three for silent scrutiny.

From a low-hanging branch still carrying its leaves, Heather Heid picked three for silent scrutiny.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Ducking the falling leaves, Royal Heid endures a shower which he had tossed into the air.

Royal Heid endured a shower of leaves that he had just tossed into the air.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Confident of her brother Vernon's care, Mary Eagle submits expectantly to afternoon burial.

Confident of her brother Vernon’s care, Mary Eagle submitted expectantly to afternoon burial.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

A lazy boatman's lot is daydream of Paul Fry, piloting a magnolia leaf across a pond.

Paul Fry piloted a magnolia leaf across a pond.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Dragging their feet, Raymond Burghardt and Ellen Bassett scuff through a window blown against a fence.

Dragging their feet, Raymond Burghardt and Ellen Bassett scuffed through leaves blown against a fence.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

A disintegrating crown of leaves is about to be dumped by Vicky Blickman on unsuspecting Paul Bassett.

A disintegrating crown of leaves was about to be dumped by Vicky Blickman on unsuspecting Paul Bassett.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Fighting for fallen leaves is engineered by Leonard and Michael Sullivan and Edward Coates, who use them as gliders.

Leonard and Michael Sullivan and Edward Coates used fallen leaves as gliders.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Autumn leaves floating on the water.

Autumn leaves floated on the water, 1953.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Combining play and seasonal chore, Doyce Waddell stirs a pile of burning leaves, and the smoke and gentle wind almost smother the slanting sunlight of autumn.

Combining play and a seasonal chore, Doyce Waddell stirred a pile of burning leaves.

Allan Grant The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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