There's no better way to celebrate the arrival of autumn than by heading outdoors with your kids for some fall fun. Kids love outings, games, and crafts, and you'll enjoy the opportunity for them to get outdoors in the fresh air. Play the old standbys, like hide and seek, kick ball, and freeze tag. You can also do a scavenger hunt, camp out, marshmallow roast, or hay ride. Don't forget to check out any local corn mazes that might be in your area. All of these are fun games to enjoy on a beautiful autumn day or night.
The cooler weather and crisp air that follow a muggy summer can inspire the whole family to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
If you have older children and a hand-held GPS device, try geocaching. Fall is the perfect time for this because it gives the whole family an opportunity to take a look at changing leaf colors while you hunt for the cache.
To take part in the cache hunt, visit the geocaching site to find the coordinates to a cache in your area. Program your GPS and set off. Don't forget to bring a trinket to leave behind you when you find the treasure.
Go to the Orchard
If you live near an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch, take your kids out to pick the season's fruit. Once you bring them home, you can have fun baking, carving or making fun apple head sculptures and Jack-O-Lanterns.
Visit a Farmer's Market
Fall is a great time to head out to the local farmer's market, where you will find a full harvest of local produce. Many markets also offer outdoor entertainment, as well. Make a family day of your visit.
Get Closer to Nature
Find a wooded area, city park or other nature-rich area near your home to take your kids to and enjoy the changing of the seasons. Have each child bring a small notebook of unlined paper, a few crayons and pencils. Once you set off on your walk, ask your kids to note anything that seems different than it was in the summer, such as changing leaves, cooler temperatures, a need for a jacket or falling acorns.
Have your child make some leaf rubbings by placing a leaf beneath a sheet of paper and gently rubbing a crayon over it. Try to capture as many different types of leaves as possible and label them to document your journey.
Are your kids already bored, claiming there is nothing to do? How about involving them in some fall crafts? Invite the neighbors, and hold a contest to judge the best, most unique, or even ugliest crafts! You can award prizes such as gift certificates for ice creams or video games, or hand out small pieces of candy, inexpensive, plastic medallions, or gold candy coins. Doing the crafts outdoors can make clean up easier.
You'll need some cording or string and a needle. Head outside to gather acorns and seeds from vegetable stalks, flower pods, trees, etc. Let kids string their treasures onto the cording to create seed necklaces and bracelets.
Send the kids outdoors to gather an assortment of sticks for this project. The sticks should be from 9 to 12 inches long. You'll also need string. Begin tying the sticks together, joining them at the bottom and at the top. Keep adding sticks until the circumference of all of the sticks fits around your kid's head. Pull the ends together and tie. If the sticks scratch your little guy's head, glue a piece of felt to the inside of the stick hat for padding.
Have a pumpkin painting party by giving each child his own pumpkin, and supplying plenty of paints for decorating. Doing this activity outside allows kids to be creative, and you won't have to worry about getting paint all over the house. Remember to set your finished creations out on the front stoop for everyone to enjoy once you're done.
Make a Scarecrow
Kids outgrow clothes so quickly that you probably have some old shirts, pants and shoes lying around the house. Gather these up along with a pair of panty hose. Tie off the sleeves and legs of the pants, and stuff leaves into the clothing to create a scarecrow version of each child. Stuff one leg of a pair of pantyhose for the face, and decorate with markers, yarn or a hat to finish your creation. Prop him up by the front door with some cornstalks and pumpkins for a fun fall scene.
The cooler temperatures and changing colors make outdoor fall games tons of fun.
Bobbing for Apples
If you have several children at your house, why not have an old-fashioned apple bobbing contest? Fill a large bucket or tub with water and delicious, red apples and set it on a picnic table. Let each child try to catch an apple with his teeth. Be sure you supervise the children, never leaving them alone with the bucket of water.
Give each child a pumpkin, and see who can reach the finish line first by rolling his pumpkin across the lawn with his feet. Alternatively, if you live in a hilly area, place some round pumpkins at the top of a gentle slope and watch them roll down. Younger children can also take turns following the pumpkins' path by rolling through some leaves.
If you have plenty of trees in your yard, try holding off on the raking until the leaves have all fallen. Create a maze for children to meander through by raking the leaves into a maze of paths across your yard. Place a small prize such as a lollipop in the center to spur them on through the trails.
What child doesn't love to jump into a pile of leaves? Tackle your yard work and entertain your kids at once; rake up several piles all over the yard, and let your children have a ball.
Create an obstacle course by either setting up items in the yard, such as cans, boxes, and hula hoops, or by using the items already in your yard, like swing sets, trees, bushes, and outdoor furniture. Be sure and tell the kids the order of the obstacles (you can label them if you like). Then, time the kids to see who can travel over the course the fastest!
Having Fun Together
No matter what activities you and your child engage in this fall, be sure to have fun together and to take some photographs. You'll be making memories that will last for many seasons to come and your child will also learn some facts about autumn by participating in these activities.