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6 Ideas to help kids spend more time outdoors this fall 

AUTUMN

Olga Shlyakhtina | Shutterstock

Cecilia Pigg - published on 09/28/21

These tips for spending more time in the autumn weather will help you and your kids be refreshed in body and spirit.

My backyard lacks one significant thing — shade. It’s a wonderful yard otherwise, but without shade, there’s nowhere to take a break from direct sunlight. My boys and I formed some good habits in the spring of spending time outside in the afternoon, but that vanished with the coming of summer heat. We spent most of our time inside with a few trips to the pool and splash pad.

It’s time to change that.

With cooler weather, I have no excuse for not being outside, and for not having the kids experience the beauty of playing in the yard for hours on end. But, we need to get used to the outdoors again, so I have a few strategies for helping reintroduce kids to being outside after a summer spent indoors to escape the heat. 

1Make a nature scavenger hunt

LEAF

For little kids this will be very simple: a leaf, a rock, two sticks. I draw a little picture of the item on an index card, and put a box next to it for the child to check off when they collect the item. For bigger kids, you can make it as specific and challenging as you can. Ask them to find and document certain birds and plants. Or try this leaf scavenger hunt for a family friendly version. 

2Try to catch (or at least observe) different insects

Then look them up together to discover how long they live, what they eat, etc. You can do the same for birds, squirrels, and chipmunks–whatever creatures you can spot in your yard or a local park. If you have avid note takers or artists, invite them to document on paper what they find. 

3Do arts and crafts outside

PAINTING

If you have acquired any gourds or pumpkins for the season, allow your kids to take paints or markers outside and have some arts and crafts time. Decorate your gourds creatively; no sharp implements required. You could even do some chalk decorations and then just rinse your pumpkin to prepare for next time. 

4Create a new sport

Equip your charges with some kind of ball, and then charge them with the task of creating a sport. They have to come up with the rules, and then test it out several times. And name it. And then be able to teach the sport to you at the end.  

5Institute mandatory outside play time

FALL

For example, add in as part of your daily routine that from 4:30 to 5 p.m. your kids must be outside. Boredom is important. Boredom is the mother of “figuring out how to stay entertained in nature,” or so they say. Okay, maybe only I say that. But, it’s anecdotally true … usually, if you are left to your own devices for long enough, you will discover how to enjoy yourself. 

6Make a pumpkin cookie stand

You can help orchestrate a sale or a giveaway of some kind of autumnal treat in your neighborhood. Not only will this help hone math skills, social skills, and organizational skills, but you can spread some cheer among your neighbors, and maybe make some new friends to boot. 

Not only will this list hopefully help increase your kids’ love for the outdoors, but it might just activate their imaginations and decrease their screen time. All good things. Your involvement is required to some extent with each task, but depending on their age and your comfort level, leaving them alone to do most of an activity will empower them and help them grow.

Oh, and happy fall! 

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