As the kids head back to school and the days begin to shorten we need to make an effort to still head outdoors. Take time to appreciate the rich changes that are happening in nature as autumn overtakes us. We need to be willing to stop, look, and listen.
And it’s easier than you might think. Here are 5 easy ways you can get outside with your kids this fall.
1. Make a Leaf Scrapbook
The leaves from different trees change at different rates and it can be fun to track these changes in a leaf scrapbook. Go outside and collect leaves from 5-10 different trees. You can take pictures of the leaves, make leaf rubbings, and label the leaves with their names and the date and add all of these to your scrapbook. (If you don’t know the names, you can look them up online, use a book from the library, or ask a neighbor.) Then you do it all over again in a couple of weeks or a month. And then again a few weeks or a month after that. By winter your child will have a fun scrapbook detailing how the leaves change on the trees around them.
2. Play Soccer
Grab a soccer ball or any round ball that’s a little bigger and head outside with your kids. Designate the goal areas and out of bounds and you are ready to go. As you race up and down the grassy field and chase after those little legs as they kick the ball you’ll realize that you’re getting a great workout in addition to building memories with your kids under the sun.
3. Do Homework Outside
Just because your kids have homework, doesn’t mean they have to do it inside your home. Kids read just as well up in a tree or sprawled out on the grass as they do sitting on the couch. So grab the books, homework sheets, journals, a blanket, and even the laptop and head to the park. And don’t let the kids have all the fun. Bring a book for yourself or your grocery list, or your latest project.
4. Create an Outdoor Game Room
It’s a lot more fun to spend time outside if you’ve got some great games to play. And it’s really easy to set up some outdoor games that the whole family will love. Draw a checkerboard on the ground or on a flat piece of wood and have different colored rocks for the playing pieces. Put a tall stake in the ground and play horseshoes. Rummage up that old croquet set and actually play it (it’s even more fun than you remember it). Play 4-square or beanbag toss. Or just grab a deck of cards and a blanket and play War on the grass.
5. Use Waiting Time Wisely
Fall is a busy time of year and we often find ourselves running from one appointment or errand or soccer game to the next. The next time you find your family waiting around between practices or outside the dentist office, make the most of it. Instead of sitting in those tan chairs and reading those tattered magazines or looking at your phone for the umpteenth time, take your kids outside while you wait instead. Keep a ball or a Frisbee or a hacky sack in your car for spontaneous play. Or even just head outside and ask each other questions about what you see. What do those clouds look like? Where do you think those snails are going?
Fall is a busy time of year and if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves stuck behind doors. Don’t let that happen. Get yourself outside. The weather is wonderful, the trees are turning colors, and the air is crisp. It’s a beautiful time of year.