1. Go Picking
Many pick-your-own farms remain open in November, but be sure to call ahead for days and hours of operation, as well as for what can be harvested. Depending on where you live, apples, pears and pecans still may be plentiful and ripe for the picking - or picking up in the case of pecans. You could even hold a pecan-picking contest to turn the outing into a fun family game! Visit PickYourOwn.org for information about farms in your area.
2. Be a Baker
If you brought home a bountiful harvest, make turning it into a seasonal treat a kid-friendly affair. You obviously won't arm your child with a knife to chop pecans, for example, but younger chefs can help out by measuring and stirring. Check out this video from Weelicious on how to make pecan pie with kids. Yummy and fun!
3. Play Gourd Bowling
Small, round gourds make excellent "balls" in a backyard game of "bowling." Use nearly empty plastic bottles - place something such as pebbles, dirt or water at the bottom for weight - as pins. Keep score and hand out prizes to all players. Maybe give the winner something extra-special such as a week off from chores or a gift card in a small amount.
4. Roast Something
Do you have a small fire pit in your backyard? If not, invest in one for the season and many more to come. They make an excellent source of heat to safely roast everything from hot dogs for dinner to s'mores for dessert. Be sure to use extra-long roasting sticks such as these from CampChef.com. Your local sporting goods store should have other options in stock, as well.
5. Make Thanksgiving Decorations
Turkey Day will be here before you know it. Divide the to-do's and assign decorating to the kids. This article on Parents.com includes instructions for a variety of kid-friendly crafts, including a welcoming "Give Thanks" banner, as well as fun place cards and napkin rings. Your kids will have fun making the items and proudly point out their creations to guests on the big day.
6. Hunt for Treasure
This activity for kids can last all season long. Come up with a list of items to be found - leaves in a variety of colors, pinecone, pumpkin seed, etc. - or seen - breath on a cold day, snowflake, store decorated for Christmas, etc. Outfit your child with a kid-friendly camera to capture the sights or be ready to hand over your phone for documentation. Again, think of small prizes for all players and an extra-special one for the first kid to collect all items on the treasure list.
7. Get Started on Holiday Gift Lists
Just like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah are fast approaching. You may not want to start thinking about the many hours shopping, decorating and general business to come, but consider the impact of having your kids start their holiday gift list early. Once done and posted on the refrigerator, the lists will serve as a constant reminder of the importance of staying on Santa's good side.
All of the above will keep your kids busy during the fall season, but also stress the importance of staying healthy. While flu season usually peaks in January and February, it can start as early as October. This excellent toolkit from the Centers for Disease Control offers helpful tips on teaching your kids how to stay healthy during flu season.
Happy Fall, Everyone!
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