The Best Season

36 Uniquely Fun Fall Activities For Kids

Time to carve the turnips.

by Emily Kelleher
Originally Published: 
Older woman holding a lantern next to young girl in front of telescope, both looking to the sky..
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Fall is probably the best season for active kids. The cool weather begs them to play outside, the harvest draws them to farms, and Halloween looms, letting the spooky fun in all season long. But it doesn’t all have to be about leaf piles and forced hikes — fun though those are. This is a season that asks you to stretch your activities and try something new. Here’s your inspiration.

  • Build a fire from scratch. Tell ghost stories around it.
  • Make a leaf mandala.
  • Collect leaves, then preserve them by wrapping in newspaper and leaving them between the pages of a heavy book for a week or two until they’re dried out. Alternatively, place them between two pieces of wax paper and iron them. The wax will preserve their color.
  • Go for a family bike ride before it gets too cold.
  • Carve a turnip. Legend has pumpkin carving can be traced back to the Irish, who carved turnips and placed them near doors to scare away spirits.
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  • Watch a “scary” movie from our list of movies that won’t cause nightmares for kids under 10.
  • Decorate with “spider webs” made of stretched out cotton.
  • Make butterbeer. (Optional: Add a shot of single malt to your.)
  • Get lost in a corn maze.
  • Try gravestone rubbing. Go to a cemetery, look around for the oldest headstone you can find. Place a sheet of paper over it and color over it with a pencil. Watch the words appear.
  • Go foraging for pretty fall berries.
  • Make skeleton leaves by soaking leaves in washing soda and gently peeling away their outer tissue to reveal the leaf’s intricate veins.
  • Make a bird feeder out of a pinecone, peanut butter, and birdseed: Find a pinecone, tie a string to it, slather it in peanut butter, and roll it in birdseed. Then hang on a tree and watch the birds go to town.
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  • Go on a hike but instead of just forcing them up the biggest mountain you can find, look out for animal tracks. Bonus points if you assign them to imaginary animals.
  • Make your own fog machine.
  • Build a fort outside.
  • Take up whittling.
  • Learn all the Harry Potter spells (while watching the movies, of course).
  • Go apple picking. Divide into teams and have a Chopped-style contest to see who can make the best apple dessert with an oddball ingredient.
  • Make a shrunken head decoration out of a dried apple.
  • Plant some apple seeds.
  • Try leaf rubbing. Place a leaf under a piece of paper, scribble over it, and watch the leaf shape appear.
  • Run a cider or hot chocolate stand.
  • Have a pumpkin-carving contest. Bonus points for props.
  • Roast the leftover pumpkin seeds.
  • Get the kids into bird watching by spotting birds flying south for the winter.
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  • Have a picnic at a local park.
  • Build a scarecrow.
  • Make chili.
  • Collect acorns.
  • Make wind chimes out of sticks.
  • Try a ouija board.
  • Make lollipop ghosts. Just wrap the top part of a lollipop in a tissue, secure a ribbon or rubber band at the base of the pop, and draw two eyes with a black marker.
  • Carve a pineapple. It’s like carving a pumpkin but with funky hair.
  • Go camping. If you drive to your destination and set up camp far away from others, it’s the rare form of vacation where the risk of transmission is low.

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