Celebrate the season with these fun family activities!
Make the most of the fall with these ideas — and the kinds of warm family interactions that make this cozy time of year a special experience.
Play is how your baby is learning right now. She’s exploring her senses, and it’s a great time to introduce new colors, sounds and textures!
Outdoor time is not just for warm days! Get outside this fall. Watch your baby as he looks at the birds and squirrels, and other little kids playing too. As he observes his changing world and friends, he is learning about the seasons and about the things people, like him, can do. Let your baby join you in all your adventures at the pumpkin patch, apple orchard or park — he may not be able to participate, but he is watching and learning.
Sensory pumpkin mess.
Your baby is discovering her world. Share a large chunk of pumpkin (without seeds, which can be a choking hazard) and watch her as she checks out the different textures. “This side is smooth and the other side is squishy!” For a less messy version, fill a resealable bag halfway with pumpkin flesh and let your baby squish it.
Have a fall fest!
Fall is full of flavors and delicious foods. And your older baby is not too young to try them! Make little bowls of apple sauce, pumpkin bread or soup. Tell her what she is tasting. Then, ask her if she likes it, “do you like apple sauce?” If your baby is over eight months old, she can start trying different spices in her food, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, rosemary and vanilla. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends introducing new foods slowly, so you can learn if your child has any food allergies. And there are so many fall foods to try, so feel free to add new flavors again and again!
Now that your child is a toddler, his attention span is growing. He is becoming more persistent too! Maybe he won’t get things right the first time, but he’ll keep trying and learning along the way.
Hug a tree with tree bark rubbings.
Start by wrapping a large piece of paper around a tree. Have your toddler hold the pieces of tape for you by putting one or two pieced of masking tape on her little fingers. “Can you hand me a piece of sticky tape?” After you wrap the paper, bring out crayons and see how the colors and textures appear on the paper. For an indoor version, collect leaves, dirt and sticks from outside. Then, place each under paper and rub away to see what texture rubbings result.
Use the falling leaves for art and science activities.
Grab a bucket or bag and collect leaves with your little one. “Let’s get all the different colors: brown, orange, red, green.” Once you have all the leaves, have him separate the leaves by colors — he can put them in paper bags painted of each color or you can just make stacks. Now, you can pick a few leaves and put them inside recycled containers with water to watch them fall. Hold the bottles against the light for fun color effects! “What do you see when I hold this by the sunny window?” If you have an older toddler, tie a string to a little stick and have him thread the leaves. This activity will help him develop his fine motor skills and also make a pretty fall decoration.
Leaf pile crunch.
Not feeling artsy or science-y? Have fun in a pile of leaves! For your little one, all play is learning. Rolling, crunching, squeezing and throwing each build motor skills. Plus, they’re a fun way to explore the world around them.
Explore the textures of Indiana’s harvest!
Go on a texture scavenger hunt to a farm, grocery store or park with your kid. If she is too little, you can collect items for her. Choose items with shapes and textures she likes, “This pine cone is pointy, do you think pointy is a fun texture?” Let her touch and tell you what it is. “What does this little pumpkin feel like? What about the pig pumpkin, does it feel different?” At home, use an old container or plate and put a little bit of washable paint in it. Set another plate for cut veggies, fruits. Cover your table with paper, and let her use the different textures as colorful fall stamps.
Play pumpkin doctor.
Use your old Halloween pumpkin for science! Playing doctor is all about process and exploring. Cut open a pumpkin. Then, let your toddler scoop up the guts and remove the seeds from the flesh and other parts. Try carving pieces out of one or more pumpkins, and have your toddler figure out what piece goes where. Need a friendlier name for this activity? Call it a pumpkin puzzle.
Your child can now concentrate and she now uses so many words! Fun fall activities can help her continue developing her skills — all while playing games!
Flora and fauna science survey.
Make a list with your little one of all the outside animals, bugs and plants that she remembers. Then, make a little book of folded paper and write or draw the item in each page. Now, every time you go to the park, the orchard or the backyard, she can look for and identify the different plants and animals that live in Indiana. If you need ideas for identifying the flora and fauna of the state, visit the Kids’ Corner at the Indiana Wildlife Federation web page!
Indoor apple picking.
That’s right! No need to leave the house for this fine motor skills activity. We love this idea from Hands On As We Learn of drawing a tree with painter’s tape on the floor and putting apples at the end of the branches. Then, have your kid come up with fun movements to collect the apples. Can he do it on one foot? There’s only one way to find out!
Master apple taster.
Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Fuji, Granny Smith. There are so many kinds of apples! For your next trip to the grocery, pick more than one kind of apple. Turn it into a game: “Can you pick five red apples with different stickers?” At home, cut the apples into slices and put the apple stickers on a paper. Come up with your own words to describe the differences in how they taste and feel. “Which apple did you like the most?”
What kid doesn’t like a good batch of slime? Spice up the science experiment she already loves and try Teaching Mama’s fluffy pumpkin spice slime! Click here for recipe.
Volcano science experiment: fall edition.
One pumpkin, white vinegar, baking soda and dish soap. These are the ingredients for the bubbliest science experiment of the season. Get the full scoop at Little Bins For Little Hands.
Being able to fetch apples with your teeth is not exactly a milestone. But in terms of fine motor skill development and the potential for learning and excitement, apple bobbing is a winner in our book. There are so many ways to introduce challenges and variations: eyes open or closed? Try fishing out the green or red apples. Have your little one play apple bobbing in teams with friends — or set a personal record!
Looking for more ideas? Check out our Fall Activities Pinterest Board!