Categories
Art and Activities

The Best Fall Activities for Toddlers and Kids in 2020

Fall is upon us! My family lives in San Diego, so it’s only slightly perceptible. But the shadows are changing, it’s getting dark earlier and you can feel the energy start to shift. 

The seasonal change brings a burst of creativity. And with it, lots of ideas for fall activities for toddlers and kids.

My kids are really interested in the Autumn Equinox and the science behind the changing seasons. So we’re learning more about how and why fall happens, tapping into the rhythm of the seasons, and celebrating with lots of fall fun!

Due to the pandemic, fall activities look a little different than in years past. But we’re finding new and meaningful ways to enjoy this season together. Hopefully these ideas will inspire a new fall activity to share with the creative kids in your life. 

Autumn nature collage

This activity is so simple, fun, and versatile. Go on a nature walk and collect items like leaves, pinecones, and flowers. Using a piece of cardboard or even a shoe box lid, glue items to create a beautiful nature collage! For these collages, we cut cardboard into leaf shapes.

We’ve done this activity many times and it’s always fun to see the different ways it takes shape. My kids are really into the solar system so we recently did a Nature Solar System Collage too.

This Nature Wall looks really fun too!

Leaf paintings

There are many fun ways to use leaves in fall art. Here are 3 favorites!

  • Basic leaf rubbings – Peel a crayon, put a leaf under a piece of paper, rub the sideways crayon over top of the paper.
  • Watercolor leaves – Paint a piece of paper with watercolors. Then add leaves and petals and more watercolors on top. Once the painting is dry, remove the leaves to reveal a stunning display.
  • Combine leaf rubbings and watercolors for an interesting crayon relief effect.

We’ve played with a lot of different watercolors, and I don’t think the brand really matters. But I highly recommend using thick paper intended for watercolors or mixed media.

If you can’t get enough leaf art, these painted leaf mobiles look really fun too!

Play in the straw or leaves

When my youngest was a year old, we went to a pumpkin patch. She wasn’t impressed with the pumpkins, but absolutely loved playing in the straw.

Sometimes mixing up the texture is really all you need to delight a toddler. You can get a hay bale from the craft store or collect a few leaves and let your little one explore.

My youngest recently discovered the joy and fun of scissors and now wants to cut every piece of paper in the house. We’re definitely going to try doing some leaf cuttings this fall! Here’s a leaf cutting tray activity that looks really entertaining.

Make a fall playlist

Creating an autumn mix with the kids favorite songs, new seasonal tunes, and parent favorites (kid-appropriate, of course) is a great way to welcome the new season.

Music preferences are really personal and subjective but thought I’d share a fall playlist with some fun songs you might enjoy!

It’s also fun to play ambient sound playlists like thunderstorms. Where we live, thunderstorms don’t happen very often, so a pretend thunderstorm is a bit of a thrill! 

Refresh your bookshelf for fall

We keep books in just about every room of the house. From time to time, I do a book refresh and swap locations of books, rotate them around, and reorganize our forward facing bookshelf. I put seasonal books and latest interests/events/issues books on the forward facing shelf.

We also check out a lot of books from the library too. It’s fun to add seasonal and holiday books to the rotation. 

We recently added My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Francesca Sanna to our home library. It travels through the seasons with gorgeous illustrations and captivating die-cut pages. I highly recommend it!

I also came across this fun new chapter book series that has a whimsical fall/Halloween/superhero feel. Even though it’s not the first in the series, we’re starting with Kitty and the Sky Garden Adventure by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Jenny Lovlie. It’s our first experience with chapter books, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This book has fun illustrations and has been the perfect introduction to the magic of a page turning, exciting/suspenseful, longer story experience.

And we are absolutely enchanted by Yoko Tanaka’s recent release, Dandelion’s Dream! This whimsical, imaginative, wordless picture book has been on the daily reading list. It feels very autumnal too!

In the Garden by Emma Giuliani is an oversized lift the flap book that is both simple and very sophisticated in its design. It is full of seasonal gardening information. We learned a lot marveling over this unique and beautiful book.

Create fall nature chalk drawings

Dip sidewalk chalk into water and then draw on pinecones, rocks, sticks, and other items found in nature. If you enjoy chalk art, all of these Imaginative and Easy Chalk Art Ideas are great for fall.

Take a train ride through fall foliage

One of our friends shared this creative idea with us and it was a big hit. A cab view train ride video is a fun way to see new sights and get a taste of fall. Setup a pretend train in front of the television using pillows and blankets and screen a cab view train ride. 

This particular ride is full of beautiful fall foliage. We’ve watched parts of a few different train rides and it’s a really calming and fun family activity.  

Fall play dough session

Play dough is one of those fun and easy to change up activities that most kids love. Add in a few mini pumpkins, pumpkin cookie cutters, some leaves, sticks, pinecones, rocks, straw, glitter, (anything really) to create a fun fall play dough session.

This no-cook recipe looks great if you want to make your own dough with kids. You can add a drop or two of essential oils to create a fall-scented version too!

Bake a delicious fall treat

I have such fond memories of baking with my mom, sisters, and grandmothers. It’s really special to share baking moments with my kids too.

My grandma used to make a delicious Apple Crisp loaded with butter, lots of sugar, and lots of love. I have adapted her recipe to work with my family’s food allergies and to make it a bit healthier. But even with all my tweaks, it’s incredibly delicious and kids love it!

My oldest likes using the apple peeler (with help and safety reminders). And both kids enjoy helping mix the crumb topping and sampling before it goes into the oven (also known as eating a ton of it). Here’s everything we used in our most recent early fall version.

Apple Crisp

Pre-baked Crisp and all the ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups of peeled and sliced apples
  • 2 cups of frozen cherries (pitted)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixed. Place fruit in an 8 inch greased pie dish. Sprinkle oat mixture evenly on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Variations we’ve tried and love

  • Add 1/4 cup of hemp seed hearts to the oat mixture
  • Use nectarines, cherries, or another fruit combination
  • Serve à la mode
  • Cook plain oatmeal and serve with a scoop of Apple Crisp on top for breakfast

The Apple Crisp recipe is really adaptable too. On this particular day, we used half apples, half cherries and made it gluten free, vegan (no dairy or eggs), and grain free with almond flour.

If you are managing nut allergies, the gluten free Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour is great. I’ve also had good luck using Earth Balance buttery spread (which I am pretty sure is nut free, but double check the label to be sure).

And I am confident that mixing and matching products to suit dietary and allergy needs will still give you a delicious result!

Baking mixes

We also really like the Simple Mills muffin mixes, especially with Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips mixed in!

We get most of our baking goods from Thrive Market. In case you don’t know about Thrive Market, it’s a wonderful online grocery store chock full of healthy and allergy friendly foods, cleaning supplies, health and beauty, and more. Their boxes are sturdy and great for recycled projects too!

Create fall sun prints

If you’ve never played with sun paper before, it’s a fun and easy process that results in stunning creations. We got this Nature Print paper kit from Dick Blick Art.

It comes with ready to use images or you can use leaves, flowers, other items. The kids had fun arranging their pieces and watching the paper work its magic. The blue hue is really beautiful too. These will make really sweet fall cards for friends and family.  

Halloween Nature Scavenger Hunt

My kids really enjoy doing nature scavenger hunts. I was doodling on a sketch pad the other day and we came up with our own fall nature quest.

The kids helped draw pictures of what they hoped to find on our nature quest. My favorite thing they came up with was a cloud shaped like a turtle. I highly recommend creating your own personalized nature hunt.

With Halloween around the corner, I thought it would also be fun to do a Halloween Nature Scavenger Hunt. I was so excited about the idea, I decided to make one to share with you.

Click here for the FREE, easy to print file. Happy nature hunting!

Create a fall art display

I put up our most recent fall art creations and am excited to see our display continue to transform with the season. 

These cool art rails are easy to swap artwork in and out of. Although, if you overload them like I always do, they occasionally drop a piece.

Brew a kid-friendly herbal tea

Herbal tea feels and tastes so special and is a nice, sugar-free alternative to cider and cocoa.

We brew chamomile and mint from our garden, lemon balm, rooibos, and other kid-friendly teas.

Serving it in real mugs makes it feel even more special too!

Of course, you should always consult with your kid’s pediatrician about using herbal teas, especially if your kids have allergies.

Make a twig sculpture

A hot glue gun + twigs + paint = a fun sculpture! Toddlers and younger kids can art direct how to glue the twigs together. And older kids can use a hot glue gun with help and safety reminders. 

We painted our creations and they turned out really neat.

You can also wrap sticks and twigs in yarn to make interesting sculptures.

Listen to an audiobook

We recently started listening to more audiobooks. There’s something fun and different about listening to a dramatized story as a family. On Spotify, we’ve been listening to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Cars on repeat.

Check your local library for audiobooks too. We were able to pick up a picture book and audiobook combination of I’m Fast by Kate and Jim McMullan. My train and racecar-loving kids listened to it over and over again!

Plant a fall garden

We live in a warm climate, so we’re planting snap peas, carrots, parsnips, broccoli raab, and some herbs in our fall vegetable garden.

We have a destructive squirrel visitor who keeps eating everything we plant, so we’re learning a lot through trial and error. But, we’re also learning about the squirrel’s role in the ecosystem and building resilience when things don’t go according to plan.

The third round of fall seeds. We’ve resorted to planting in starter pots instead of the garden beds and keep them locked up at night.

If you aren’t able to plant an edible garden, painting a pot, caring for a new houseplant, or growing herbs on a windowsill are ideas to explore fall gardening.

There are so many fantastic gardening books that explore the seasons. Here is another we recently read and really enjoyed.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, illustrated by Silas Neal has an illustration of an incredible sunflower arch that we’re adding to our garden goals.

Be sure and check out my post on How to Make a Whimsical Dinosaur Garden with Kids for even more gardening fun!

Fly a kite

I didn’t realize my kids had never flown a kite until we watched Mary Poppins. They were immediately very interested.

One breezy afternoon, we went to a nearby park and they had a blast learning how to fly.

The blue butterfly kite was a gift from my mom almost 15 years ago, but I found a link to what looks like the same one!

Herb bouquets for friends

We grow a lot of herbs in our garden. And, the kids love to help pick them! Handpicked herb bouquets are fragrant and will make sweet fall gifts for our friends.

We’re also planning to harvest and dry bundles of sage to give as holiday gifts.

DIY pumpkin patch

This year, we celebrated pumpkin season extra early and put together a backyard pumpkin patch for the kids.

I got this hay bale from the craft store, set out the little pumpkins we grew in our garden, got a few larger inexpensive grocery store pumpkins and gourds, and make it an event!

The kids made signs and brought their little red wagon through the patch to pick pumpkins.

My youngest is still wheeling her pumpkins all around the house!

Pumpkin decorating

This is one of the most quintessential fall activities. And there are endless options for pumpkin decorating. Carving, painting, golf tee hammer designs, dressed up pumpkins, and more.

I personally love to paint pumpkins with younger kids for safety reasons and because it offers a lot of options for creativity. Tempera paint, glue, googly eyes, pompoms, feathers, flowers, and more make for special creations!

If I’m feeling brave, we might experiment with pour paint pumpkins this year too. 

What Will You Create?

How are you planning to welcome and celebrate fall? I hope you find time to connect with nature and the beauty of the changing seasons. If you try any of these fun fall activities, please share your pictures with us. We’d love to see what you create!