Fall is the perfect time to have fun as a family. It’s not too hot or too cold, so we can go outside pretty much every day. It gives kids a chance to watch, listen, smell, touch, and taste new all kinds of new things. It gives them a chance to give their senses a workout every time they’re outside.
Today, I swept all the dead leaves off of our back porch. There were a lot of leaves and a lot of obstacles; it took most of an hour. The girls turned my bucket of rainwater into a mound of bubbles (found some leftover bubble solution) and doled it out in every plastic cup and watering can they could find. They played and squealed until they were both soaking wet, and we had to come inside. (Because really, it’s not cold, but it’s not warm enough to be outside and wet.)
Fall is the perfect time to encourage exploration, experimentation, and curiosity in your kids. Free, unstructured time gives their brains a chance to process and expand on what they’re experiencing, so make sure you include lots of that, but take the time to plan some Big Day activities, too.
We’ve already done all ten of the following things this fall, but you still have plenty of time to get started. I bet you can get through at least half of them before the snow falls. Why not give it a try?
10 Ways to Celebrate Fall as a Family
- Read books about fall. One of our favorites is God Bless Our Fall, a board book about all the wonderful things families get to enjoy together as the weather turns cold.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids. Make them a list of things to find. If your kids are too little, draw pictures. Remind them only to collect the things that are on the ground, not alive. Or, better yet, give them a camera and have them take a photo of each item instead of collecting anything.
- A green leaf
- A red leaf
- A yellow leaf
- A crunchy, brown leaf
- An acorn
- A seed other than an acorn
- A flower petal
- A pine cone
- A mushroom
- A spider web
- Pick apples or pumpkins. Talk about the plant and the roots and the leaves and the fruits. Look at the ones that aren’t ripe and compare them with the ones that are. Look for signs of insect damage. At the farm stand, look at all the different kinds of apples, pumpkins, and gourds. Bring home a bunch of different kinds and –
- Have an apple taste test. Cut the apples in half, compare the insides and the outsides. Make a graph and record the taste (sweet or tart, soft or crisp, juicy or dry). Choose your favorites.
- Cook together. Apple crisp is a special favorite of my family, but baked apples are good, and so are apple butter and applesauce and the awesome wormy apple snack. I’ve been cooking with my kids since they could stand up. Cooking together is a real treat for all of us.
- Compare pumpkins and gourds. Cut out a regular pumpkin, a neck pumpkin, a mini pumpkin, and a gourd. Talk about how the flesh weeps (because the liquid in the cells leaks out when the cells get cut in half), look at the cavity, the stringy guts of the pumpkin, and the seeds. Feel the slimy flesh. Roast the seeds. Cook the pumpkin and make it into something wonderful.
- Go on a hike together. There are so many things to see in the woods during this time of year – squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, leaves falling, trees bare, animal footprints in the mud. Take your kids out to see all the cool stuff, and take a bag to bring home some of your treasures.
- Go to a corn maze. Corn mazes are so much fun, especially for little kids. (Actually, in the middle of the summer, they are hot, humid, horrible jungles that are no fun at all, but in the fall, they are really fun.) There’s also so much learning that can happen. Why are some paths brown and some lush with green grass? Why are the corn stalks brown and dry? What does the corn look like inside the dried husks?
- Use bird seed. Make art with it. Make pine cone bird feeders. Tie strings around them and hang them in trees where you can watch the birds. (Or, if your house is like ours, watch the squirrels and raccoons while they chase the birds away.)
- Gather a bunch of leaves. A huge bag of leaves. Sort them by color or by shape or by size. Make leaf rubbings with a crayon or a pencil. Flatten them in a phone book or between pages of an old book or even in paper towels under a stack of heavy books. After a couple of weeks (yes! It really does take a couple of weeks!), take them out and paste them into a leaf book or a nature scrapbook or use them to make cool art projects. (Also, rake up some crunchy leaves and jump in them!)
As much as I love swimming and Hersheypark, fall is definitely my favorite season. I can’t wait to dig into these 10 things all over again during the next three months!
© 2017, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.