School has started, and the kids have things to do during the weekdays, but what about evenings and weekends? How will you keep them busy after homework is finished and screen time is over?
From outdoor escapades like jumping in leaves to indoor fun like baking fall treats, try these ideas for fall activities for kids to keep your kids entertained and help maintain your sanity. Make a list of your favorites and do one each weekend throughout the season.
In most parts of the country, it is starting to get chilly outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Bundle up and enjoy the great outdoors with your children.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Visit a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect jack-o’lantern for Halloween. Many pumpkin patches also have other activities like hay rides, cider tasting and apple picking. Check your local pumpkin patch’s website for more details.
Hay bale and corn mazes
Local farmers often create mazes out of hay bales or corn for kids and families to navigate. Some are easier than others so it is best to ask about the difficulty of the maze before going. If your kids are younger, you may want to do it with them while older kids might want to do the maze alone. Search local farm websites for more details.
Hayrides are often available at local farms and festivals. A trailer with hay to sit on is usually pulled by a tractor but sometimes by horses. If your kids are small it is best to ride with them. Search local farm or festival websites for more details.
Jump in mud puddles
After it rains, put on rain boots and raincoats and take the kids to jump in mud puddles. It’s a free activity that creates a lot of memories and many kids enjoy it. Plus, you will be the cool parent for letting your kids do something they’re usually told not to do. Warm up with hot cocoa and a warm bath afterward.
There is nothing that my kids love more than splashing in the puddles. For the past years, we haven’t been getting much rain in California, so when it does rain I make sure my kids enjoy it to the fullest. We put on our raincoats and rain boots and walk around the neighborhood looking for the biggest puddles for them to get muddy in. Nothing beats the sound of kids laughing and going crazy when it rains.— Tamara Tsaturyan, Thriving In Parenting
Rake and jump in leaves
Jumping in a big pile of leaves is a classic fall activity. If you have a tree that loses leaves in your yard, have your kids help rake the leaves. Kid-sized rakes are available at some stores to make it easier for small children. Then promise them they can jump in them when they are finished. The kids are kept busy, and your yard gets cleaned up before winter. It’s a win-win for everyone. If you don’t have your own leaves to rake, see if a neighbor or friend would like some help raking theirs.
Collect leaves on a nature walk
Walk around the neighborhood or drive to a local park to collect leaves. Look for different colors, sizes and shapes. See how many different types of leaves your children can find.
One of our favorite fall activities as a family is going for nature walks to collect leaves. With younger children, we focus on identifying the fall colors in the leaves. The older children learn to match the leaves to the types of trees. Walking in the comfortable cooler fall weather works for all of the ages and generations of our family.— Sarita Harbour, Thrive at Home
Attend football games
Football games happen throughout the season at most high schools and colleges. Some schools have bands and halftime shows for extra entertainment. Bundle up and bring some money to purchase snacks and drinks. Tailgating is often available beforehand, but call the school ahead of time to find out. Check school websites for schedules.
While it is nice to get outside, the weather does not always cooperate. When it’s too cold or rainy to enjoy outdoor activities, it’s great to have some indoor options as well.
Create leaf rubbings
Collect leaves from outside and save them for leaf rubbings. Peel the wrapping off the crayons you plan to use. Place a leaf under a plain white piece of paper. Place a crayon on its side and rub it over the leaf with some pressure.
Depending on the material you decide to stuff your scarecrow with, this could be an indoor or outdoor activity. Collect old clothes from around the house to make the body — stuff with newspaper or hay. Use a paper bag for the head. Tie the parts together with string or twine. Use a stick to prop up your scarecrow.
Have an apple cider tea party
Get out the fanciest cups you allow your kids to use and have an apple cider tea party. Pick out a few kinds or brands of cider at the store and taste them together. Sit at the table or on a blanket on the floor and vote for your favorites.
Make fall cookies
Use cookie cutters in fall shapes to make festive sugar cookies. You can also make round sugar cookies and frost them with fall colors like orange, yellow, black and purple. Add sprinkles or other decorations if desired.
Instead of carving pumpkins, paint them with acrylic paint. No knives are needed, so this activity is kid-friendly for all ages. Let kids use their imagination and creativity to make their pumpkins into whatever they desire or make a unique design. The pumpkins can be used to decorate your house for fall and last longer than carved pumpkins.
Read autumn-themed books
Visit your local library to find books that take place in the fall or non-fiction books that teach about fall. Talk with a librarian or search your local library’s catalog to see which autumn-themed books are available. Read them with your children at bedtime, or cozy up and read them together on the couch any time of the day.
No matter what you decide to do with your kids, the most important thing is that you spend time together and make memories. Use the ideas above and ask your kids for ideas as well. Get cozy and plan your fall fun together.
Heidi is a Certified Elementary School Teacher in the Inland Northwest and has been teaching for 17 years. She is also a vintage recipe blogger at Real Life of Lulu, where she focuses on recipes that are at least 50 years old, many from her grandparents’ kitchens. When she isn’t teaching or baking, she loves spending time with her husband and three kids.