It's always sad to say goodbye to the summer; the relaxed pace, the warm weather, the extra family time—if you’re lucky enough to get it. When it comes to family time, don’t let the quicker pace of autumn, or the cooler weather, for that matter, keep you from enjoying fun family activities. Enjoy these green activities—all inexpensive or free—with your kids this fall.
The weather is perfect right now to get your kids (and yourselves) outside with activities that focus on nature and the environment.
Here are a few ideas to try.
Take a hike
I’m not talking about the Appalachian Trail, although don’t write that one off entirely. Just getting the kids out and walking is key. A local park, bike trail or even around the neighborhood is fine. The exercise is essential for kids, especially in this era of concern over childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Can’t tear the kids away from the television or video game console for a stroll in the great outdoors? Try making a game of it. Weekly theme walks are one idea. Try playing “find the flowers” by picking a particular type of flower and seeking it out on your walk. Or try “who can collect the most red leaves.” You and your kids will get exercise, time together, a quick lesson on the beauty of nature, and they usually get excited about the competition aspect as well.
Go apple picking
Grab the kids and head out to a local farm or orchard and enjoy the best apples the area has to offer. There are several working farms in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington counties, and they offer a host of fall crop-picking opportunities through the autumn season. Usually, the cost to pick is very little, or even free (on special days), and you just pay for what you pick! Enjoy the apple cider, caramel apples, pies and yummy cider donuts while you’re at it and help support your local farmers.
Visit the patch
Of course I am talking about the pumpkin patch. If you’re gearing up for Halloween, as I am sure many of you are, why not visit a pumpkin patch? Instead of getting your pumpkin(s) at the grocery store, take the kids to a local pumpkin patch. Younger kids especially seem to enjoy the fun of checking out the different sizes and shapes of the pumpkins. Not only do they get to choose for themselves, but they also get to learn about how and where things grow before they wind up at their local grocery store.
Who says you have to go far away to enjoy the great outdoors? While a trip to the mountains or the lake is always nice, how about getting away to your own backyard? Every year, The National Wildlife Federation sponsors the Great American Backyard Campout. But why wait? Gather your gear and head outdoors. Pitch a tent in your yard and sleep under the stars. You can tell stories or roast hot dogs and marshmallows (if you have a safe, approved, fire pit or backyard BBQ to utilize). If your kids are anything like mine, they will love this fun family adventure, and won’t even ask once to go inside and play videogames.
Weather the storm
If the weather is not cooperating in your plans for some family fun outdoors, why not try a crafty indoor activity that still has a focus on fall? Two we love: apple stamping and leaf tracing. Both are fun for kids, and offer super easy instructions.
For apple stamping, all you need is an apple, some paper and some paint to create a cute fall craft and promote a little artistic family fun time. Cut an apple in half vertically and pour some non-toxic paint onto a paper plate. Using the open side of the apple, dip in the paint (we used green and red), and gently press the apple down onto your paper. Once our stamp had dried, we used additional paint to paint stems and leaves onto our apple designs.
For leaf tracing, all you will need is some plain white, unlined paper, crayons and some leaves. We previously collected all different sizes and shapes of leaves for best results, and kept them in a little bag for a rainy day. To create your own leaf masterpiece simply place white paper over top of your selected leaves and rub crayons over it to color them. The leaf pattern comes through the paper and makes a beautiful fall design. Keep trying different sizes and shapes of leaves until you’ve filled up the whole paper.
Enjoy these family-friendly and budget-friendly activities for fall, all with a focus on the natural environment. Whatever activities you choose, get out and enjoy some quality time with those you love this fall.