Children might sometimes become gloomy about the end of summer and heading back to school, but with the change of seasons comes the magic of autumn, and a chance to relish this time of year!
Cooler days and bright colors on the trees are opportunities to get together outside. Did we mention that some fresh air can help boost moods as the days get shorter? Being outside in nature has a multitude of health benefits, so here are our favorite fall activity ideas to get your family outside and smiling!
The Health Benefits of Nature
We all spend a lot of time looking at a screen; when combining this with the cold season keeping people cozy inside, it can often mean we’re all spending less time outdoors than we should be. If your children just got back to school, they are indoors for most of the day, too.
Fall and winter also means a reduction in sunlight, which can disrupt the body’s internal clock, drop serotonin levels, and lead to unhappiness. Studies are consistently finding that exposure to nature helps with depression, anxiety, cognitive functioning, and chronic disease. Even a stroll through a city park can help improve attention, lower stress, boost mood, and even increase empathy and cooperation.
Ready to get outside and have some with your family? Check out our favorite fall activities below!
Top 10 Fall Activities to Get Your Family Outside
- Gather leaves in the yard: This is an easy and common activity that kids love. You have to rake up the leaves anyway, so why not involve the kids and make piles for them (and the pets!) to jump in? When they get tired of jumping, they can help you bag them up for pickup.
- Organize a scavenger hunt: Make this simple but fun by gathering outdoor yard items like pinecones, acorns, and crabapples, and hiding them indoors for the kids to find. Try writing out fun riddles so hunters have to decipher what each item is before searching!
- Make a bonfire: In the autumn, it’s cool enough to have a fire in the middle of the day! Make s’mores, roast wieners, and sip on hot chocolate or warm apple cider in the comfort of your own backyard.
- Outdoor science experiment: Mini pumpkin volcanos are a fun way to learn about chemical reactions! An easy way to combine baking soda and vinegar reaction with some food coloring and a pumpkin, this is an activity that is sure to excite everyone involved! Pro tip: make it a backyard activity to get everyone outside and keep the mess out there, too!
- Get into the community: Find a local autumn market, walk, or other activity and invite friends and family along! A hayride, pumpkin patch tour, outdoor haunted farm or corn maze are fun for kids of all ages and a great way to transition into the fall season with excitement!
- Crafty leaf collecting: Go on a fall walk with children and collect leaves of all different sizes, shapes, and colors! Once you’re back, press them between wax paper with a warm iron to keep as a fall bookmark, scrapbooking accessory, or decorating item! While you’re at it, talk to children about why leaves change color in the fall and what this means.
- Forage for mushrooms: Depending where you live, you can combine a hike with another learning activity—finding these important and prolific living organisms that we often overlook! Resources like “Fungus Among Us” will help children (and adults!) learn about this under-appreciated yet important part of our environment, while also teaching them about the dangers of eating mushrooms that aren’t carefully identified by adults in the space.
- Stargazing: The shorter days mean nightfall will begin to happen before the children have to be in bed. Take a weekend evening to get outside, identify different constellations with the family, look for satellites, and falling stars!
- Geocaching: Though this activity might be more suitable for older children and adults, even little ones will enjoy the fun of an outdoor treasure hunt! Use a GPS or an app to find hidden containers known as geocaches, with locations posted on the Internet. Find the cache and log your findings, and even try visiting Leave no Trace to learn about other environmentally respectful outdoor activities!
- Birdwatching: Though some locations are better for birdwatching than others can be, the fall migration can be witnessed almost anywhere! Bird migration also happens over a longer period in the autumn than in spring, with a larger variety of birds to spot thanks to newly fledged young ones attempting their first trip south. A bird book is a great way to help children identify birds and enjoy the outdoors even more!