This cool crisp air and pumpkin spice everything has me really feeling like fall is finally here. I love light sweater weather (especially now that I’m 9 months pregnant) and breathing in those traditional autumn scents. Now is the season for pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and leaf peeping at all the beautiful colors on the trees, and we just can’t get enough.
Last year was Brielle’s first fall and I was so excited to bring her to the harvest festivals and do basic fall things as a family, but she was only 2 months old. This year she’s a toddler with interests and more understanding of the world around her, so I can’t wait for her to experience these activities all over again with so much more awareness and excitement.
Here are some of my favorite activities to do as a family. We’ll try to fit them all in this season, but expecting another baby in the middle of October may make it a little difficult!
Harvest/Fall Festival – Almost all farms jump on the band wagon to host a large fall festival this time of year. You can find ones in your local area that include fun activities/games for the kids, food trucks, corn mazes, pumpkin & apple picking, petting zoos, and much more. They may even have educational activities like milking a cow or seeing a sheep get sheared. You can buy fall decor for your home or sample ciders and donuts. The whole family can enjoy this! Big tip: don’t bring a stroller if you have small children. For babies, a carrier is best to move around the grass with.
Corn Maze – Get lost on purpose or bring the map with you so you can definitely find your way out quickly. If you have a baby or toddler, use a carrier instead of a stroller because they can be really muddy or just difficult to maneuver your way around with a bulky stroller. You can check your local community websites to find one in your area.
Hayride – These can be found at local farms that usually have pumpkin picking or fall festivals. The kids will love sitting on the tractor with hay all around them and heading to the pumpkin patch.
Have a Bonfire – If you have a firepit at home, this is perfect weather to sit outside and snuggle by the fire. The kids will love roasting marshmallows or making s’mores, even telling ghost stories and singing campfire songs.
Have a Fall Picnic – Pack a lunch for the family and have a picnic at a park under a beautiful autumn tree. The weather is usually perfect in the afternoon that you may only need a light sweater. Talk about the weather, trees, colors, etc. especially if you have a toddler who is just learning and taking in all of these new sensory experiences.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch – Everyone can pick their own pumpkin and you can choose to use it to decorate your front porch, carve, or paint. Usually farms offer a hayride to the pumpkin patch and you can pick them right off the vine.
Carve Pumpkins– You can opt for the standard triangle eyes and gap tooth smile face or you can get creative and use a stencil to really decorate your pumpkin beautifully. You can buy booklets of stencils or download and print them free from the internet. Let the kids choose from witches and ghosts to their favorite football team logo. This site offers a wide variety of stencils for free.
Paint a pumpkin- If your kids are a little too young to use the sharp knives to carve, have them paint pumpkins. Any paint or paintbrush will do, and you can paint faces, logos, scenery, or anything you wish. You can find so many ideas online and the options are endless!
Roast pumpkin seeds- If you carved your pumpkin, save those pumpkin seeds! Just toss them with some butter and salt, lay them flat on a baking sheet in one even layer, and roast them for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack and your kids will probably be excited to taste some of the pumpkin.
Apple Picking– September is a great time for apple picking. It’s still early fall and there’s plenty of orchards that offer pick-your-own-apple fields. The weather is typically still very warm at this time of year. Spend time in the orchards trying every different kind of apple. You’ll be amazed at how many different types of apples there are (not just red, green, and yellow!). They usually have signs next to the trees to tell you what kind of apples they are and you can have a little taste test with your family to figure out which you like the best. Also, don’t forget to bring a blanket to have a little picnic in the orchards- snack on your apples and any other treats you have brought with you.
Make apple sauce– What are you going to do with all those apples now? Your kids will have a blast. Try out this super easy to follow recipe for apple sauce.
Apple Stamping- This is a fun activity for toddlers. Cut the apples in half and use paint to make the apple shape like a stamp. You can use that to just stamp all over a piece of paper or actually make it into a pretty picture or design. Here is a great and simple activity to do with your kids from Crafty Morning.
Apple matching/sorting by color- If you have toddlers that are just starting to learn their colors, this is a great way to teach them some primary colors like red, yellow, and green. If you have gotten a variety of colors of apples, have the child sort them into groups while stating what color they are.
Make Caramel Apples – They are super easy and your kids will LOVE them. Here’s a quick tutorial:
Remove the stem from the apples and press a craft stick into the top. Butter a baking sheet. Place caramels and milk in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool very briefly. Roll each apple quickly in caramel sauce until well coated. Place on prepared sheet to set. You can also add chopped nuts to the outside right after you roll in the caramel, if you wish.
Fall Foliage & Leaves
Take a drive or hike – Ah leaf peeping season. I could drive through wooded areas checking out the beautiful colors of the leaves for days. If you have a mountain preserve, park, reservoir, or hiking trails in your area, thats a perfect place to go, but even driving down certain highways that have lots of surrounding trees can be beautiful this time of year. If you’re near any of these places, you probably know how beautiful your area is, but if you live close by- take a drive to see the colors. The timing can change year to year on when the best weeks to see the leaves are- from mid October to early November usually seems like the best time.
Play in the Leaves – I have so many fond memories of jumping in leave piles, let your kids do the same and if you have a small hill even better-take a slide or tumble down a hill in leaves is just good old-fashioned fun!
Take a nature hike to pick up leaves – Have your child collect leaves while on a nature hike. If you don’t have any wooded parks or trails by you, you can easily do this in your backyard or a street nearby with lots of trees. Another thing I loved to do as a kid was step on those crunchy leaves. Your children will have so much fun with this- trying to find the crunchiest leaves to step on and hear that crinkling sound.
Leaf painting and stamping- Similar to apple stamping, you can use paint to cover one side of a leaf, place it on a paper, and have a beautiful design from the leaves you collected.
Leaf matching/sorting by color- If your toddler is starting to learn his colors, you can sort the leaves by color as well. Try to get them to collect a variety of colors including, reds, yellows, brown, orange, and even green, and sort them into piles while learning colors.
Make a collage of leaves- On a piece of construction paper, you can glue those leaves you collected to make a nice collage. Draw a tree trunk and glue the leaves on top to make your own tree!
In your home
Decorate your house with fall colors and themes- There are so many beautiful ways to decorate your home for autumn. Now you can find fall decor in any store. My favorite stores to shop at for seasonal decorations are Hobby Lobby, Home Goods, and Michaels. Just make sure you use coupons because they’re always floating around! I also love fresh fall decor like mums and pumpkins for your doorstep.
Fall scented candles- This season has probably my favorite scents of all time. I have various candles and wax warmers throughout my home that fill it with scents of pumpkin pie and autumn leaves. The previously listed stores also have great candle scents, as well as Yankee Candle. Just strolling through the candle aisle and smelling in and every one is also a guilty pleasure of mine!
Make a fall wreathe- Wreathes are super easy to make and your kids can help out too! No sharp tools are necessary. I prefer to purchase my wreathes and flowers from Michaels. Use a grapevine wreathe like this one and just arrange your flowers how ever you wish by sticking the stem through the twigs in the wreathe. They stay really well in there- no glue even necessary! Here is my tutorial for how to make an easy, affordable fall wreathe.
Bake a pumpkin or apple pie– Whats even better than filling your house with pumpkin pie scented candles? Filling your house with an actual pumpkin pie baking in the oven! Find a great recipe online and get baking- let your little ones help too!
Read a book about fall or pumpkins – My favorite toddler book is Where is baby’s pumpkin? Start teaching them about the seasons and all things fall related.
Watch pumpkin or halloween movies– Not too scary if your child is young, but It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a classic and they re-run it a ton over the month of October. All of the new cartoons have their own versions too.
Put up spooky decorations- Get the whole neighborhood spooked when they see your creepy house looks at night! We just got these projection lights for our house and they’re the talk of the town! It also makes for super easy decorating. Get them while they’re hot!
Make a scarecrow- This can take a little more handy work, but if you’re up for the challenge, making your own scarecrow is a fun activity. Here is one idea on how to do that.
Make or shop for halloween costumes- If you have older kids, I’m sure they’re itching to get to the Halloween store to buy their costumes. It could be a fun family activity to make your own! It may take a bit of thought and creativity, but sometimes the DIY costumes come out better than store bought! However, if you’re trying to save your sanity and time (which is what I’m all about), go for store bought!
Make your child’s trick or treat bag- There are a lot of DIY crafts during the fall, but if you have the time, you might as well spend it crafting! Make your child their own personalized bag to take around with them for Halloween and they can also use it for years to come.
Have a Bonfire – If you have a firepit at home, tell ghost stories around the fire. This will be sure to creep out your kids (make sure they’re old enough to handle it).