The first official day of fall — aka the autumnal equinox — is still a few weeks off, but with the kids heading back to school, the days getting a little shorter and the air feeling a little crisper, it’s clear that summer is winding down and fall is warming up. To maximize your seasonal fun, add these 10 activities to your family’s fall bucket list.
Schedule a family photo session.
Fall foliage provides the perfect backdrop for family photos, just in time for holiday greeting cards. Get the most bang for your buck on professional photos by finding a local photographer who offers mini-sessions — a less-expensive photo session that lasts about 30 minutes instead of several hours — perfect for families with babies and young children.
Visit an apple orchard.
There’s nothing quite like picking fresh apples from the tree. Apple season runs from August through November in various parts of the United States — from the east coast to the mid-Atlantic states, through the Midwest and across the country to Washington state and Oregon. Find a nearby orchard (or make it a day trip), then use your haul to cook up some tasty treats — with your kitchen helpers, of course. Apple crisp, anyone?
Cheer on the home team.
Cooler temps make watching your team from the bleachers or setting up a tailgate in the parking lot a cozy fall family outing. Professional football, baseball, and soccer are all in full swing, so choose your favorite sport, put on your team colors and take the family out to the ball game. No pro team in your area? No problem. High school and college football are great alternatives — plus you won’t pay a premium for the tickets.
Attend a local fall festival.
Check local towns for festivals that celebrate the season. Small or large, themed or not, these local festivals and fairs are a cheap and entertaining way for the family to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Visit a farm.
Your farm fun doesn’t have to be limited to picking out pumpkins in the fall — but you can do that too. Many working farms celebrate the harvest with abundant produce, apple cider, hayrides, corn mazes and opportunities to get up close with the animals.
After you’ve picked your pumpkins, it’s time to get creative. If you choose to carve pumpkins with your kids, make sure you or another parent or caregiver is present. Don’t let young children carve pumpkins and review carving safety with older kids before you allow them to use sharp tools. For best results, choose smooth, lighter weight pumpkins, which are easier to cut. Keep designs simple and use a sharpie to draw them on the pumpkin before carving. Remind your kids to go slowly with the carving tools. For young children, decorate tiny pumpkins with markers, glitter, paint and rhinestones.
Hunt for fall foliage.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to get outside and make the most of mild weather — and it’s an easy, customizable activity that can accommodate one kid or a group. Simple scavenger hunts for young children can involve finding pinecones, leaves, sticks, and rocks. For older children, the items can be more specific — try having them search for leaves from different kinds of tree. And planning is simple: All you need is a list of items, a pen for marking off the items as they are found and good walking shoes.
Try an easy, fall-inspired craft.
Pick up a few pinecones during your fall scavenger hunt? Paint them! This simple craft is appropriate for kids ages three and up and requires only a few supplies — paint and decorative additions, like glitter or beads. Use your painted pinecones to spice up your fall décor.
Plan the perfect Halloween.
Kids love Halloween — and not just trick-or-treating. Get the most out of the holiday by planning costumes, adding some spooky décor to your house, and throwing a kid-friendly Halloween party. Plan easy activities that are sure to please — like a “mummy wrap” (kids wrapping each other in toilet paper), pumpkin painting, and a monster mash.
Teach children about gratitude.
It’s never too soon to start teaching children about gratitude, but with Thanksgiving right around the corner, being thankful is top of mind. Begin incorporating lessons about gratitude into your daily routines. Not sure how to start? Here are six easy ways to begin teaching children — even young children — about gratitude.