7 autumn outdoor activities for your children

Posted by / Thursday 14 November 2019 / Activities On A Budget
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This guest blog has been written by Pentagon Play who have been designing outdoor learning environments for schools since 1998. Find out more about the importance of outdoor play and education on their website.

 

As we settle into the autumn months, there is no doubt that it’s a beautiful time of year to get outside with your children. It’s time to make the most of the fading sunlight before the darker winter days are upon us.

Autumn is a sensory feast; a colourful season full of excitement and anticipation. As the leaves fall with the temperatures and the smokey scent of wood fires linger in the air, heading outside is a not only easy entertainment, but one of the very best things you can do for your family’s health and wellbeing.

To help get you started, we have put together a list of easy outdoor activity ideas to enjoy as a family that won’t bust the budget this autumn.

 

1. Autumn Treasure Box

Going on a treasure hunt is an all-time favourite game and while it’s essentially the same idea, it’s much more appealing to children than just going out for a walk. It’s all about the challenge.

Kids love the finer details of autumn and at this time of year, there are so many interesting things to look for in nature. A multitude of different coloured and shaped leaves litter the floor, while fallen conkers, acorns and pine cones are ripe for the taking. Choose whether you’re going for a “colour” theme or a “nature” theme, then head straight outside and let your child look for items.

To make an Autumn Treasure Box, take an empty egg box and get your child to paint the inside of each section in a different autumn colour - reds, yellows, oranges, browns and greens. Take it out on your hunt and encourage your child to fill it with items of corresponding colours, or you could reserve sections for specific items, whatever they prefer. It’s a good way for children to learn colour and to understand a bit about the natural world around them too.

If you have a pair of binoculars or a magnifying glass, take them along to add to the adventure. Involve older children by letting them make the hunt their own - they could bring a sketchbook to draw what they see or a digital camera to take pictures, depending on their interests.

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2. Acorn Hats

Don’t just gather the acorns on an autumn walk - gather the tops as well. They look like little hats or buckets. Kids can draw funny faces with felt tip pens on the acorns to make their own fairy-folk with funny hats. Use the tops as tea cups to leave out for elves or insects to drink from. Stick some to a piece of card to make autumn mosaics.

3. Conker Paint Rolling

If you’ve collected conkers on your treasure hunt, dip five or six of them each in a different colour poster paint. Place them onto a plain paper on a tray and give the tray a good shake. It’s fun for kids to watch them roll around and leave colourful patterns on their way. Can you spot a familiar face or shape in the design? What do the conkers have to tell you?

 

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4. Leaping in Leaves

It might be a cliché, but jumping into a pile of freshly raked leaves really is one of life’s simple pleasures. Grab a rake and get your children to “help” you clear the garden of fallen leaves. They will love flinging them high into the air and they might even get some of them in the bin - it’s good aerobic exercise too.

Before you get rid of the leaves, you can have some fun creating a leaf maze on the ground. With a rake, a brush, or just your hands and feet, create a simple series of pathways for your children to follow and find their way out, using long, narrow piles of leaves as the maze “walls”. Let them make a pathway for you to follow, or for toy cars and trucks to travel around.

5. Leaf Prints and Puppets

Head out into your garden or out for a walk in your local park or woodland area to collect a bag full of autumn leaves. Kids relish a challenge to find the biggest, the most interesting shape, the most beautiful. Try to get some with really prominent veins as they will work even better for the next part of this activity.

Take the leaves home and paint the undersides in greens, yellows, browns and reds. Press them carefully onto plain white paper to create a life-like leaf print pattern. You could use fabric paint on textiles - plain t-shirts for young children to make their own designs to wear, cushion covers, or a table-cloth.

Afterwards, they can glue a wooden lollipop stick to the bottom of each painted leaf, stick on a pair of googly eyes in the middle (cheap and easy to buy online or from craft shops) and draw on a smile to create leaf puppets.

 

6.Autumn Dens and Obstacle Courses

Take an autumn stroll in a woodland or a park and you will usually find plenty of fallen sticks and branches at this time of year. Don’t let them go to waste! They’re perfect for kids to build dens to hide in and obstacle courses to leap over. Build a den around a tree in a local park and they can leave their creations behind for others to play with and even build upon - it’s always worth a trip back to see if it’s still there.

Use a watch or your phone to time your kids running the obstacle course - it’s so exciting for them and burns off all that excess energy.

If you live in a more urban area don’t be discouraged: your own back yard or a local playground are just as good for building and you will always find a tree somewhere.

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7. Grow your garden

Flowers may be disappearing, but there is still plenty of life out there and much to do in the garden in autumn.

It’s the perfect time to plant bulbs ready for next spring - worth every moment of digging and muddy hands for the surprise and joy of seeing their own tulips and daffodils pop up a few months later. If you don’t have a garden, you can plant in frost-proof window boxes, or pots for the front doorstep.

Set up a wildlife watch with your kids. Make bird feeders by collecting pine cones from a local park, smearing them with crunchy peanut butter and stringing them from branches in your garden. Children can get busy making a safe home for any wildlife that visits over the colder months. A simple pile of twigs and leaves or hollow bamboo canes cut short and laid flat in a quiet corner of the garden offer a welcome shelter for insects. Find a good place to hide, spy with binoculars and look out for birds coming to eat at the feeders. Whispering and watching with a torch when it goes dark is exciting.

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