Teaching and learning

10 Outdoor Activities for Children to Try This Autumn

10 Fall activities to get the little ones outdoors and learning
Outdoor activities this Fall
August 29, 2023
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down.

  • It is getting a bit colder out, but it is still great to get the little ones out for some learning in the fresh air while there isn’t too much snow on the ground.
  • We’ve shared some fun autumn activities that are perfect for the changing colors that make Fall so special and beautiful.

Fall Themed Activities for Little Learners

With the cooler weather and the changing seasons’ colours, autumn is a great time for activities, play-based learning, and exploration. Each activity offers children a host of learning opportunities, like developing observational skills, colour matching, or even being brave with some tree climbing. And the best part about these activities, is you do not need to organize and coordinate a field trip to a pumpkin patch. Instead, you can do these right outside your classroom!

The best part is that the children won’t even recognize how much they are learning because these fall activities are fun, engaging, and certain to burn some energy - which we know all the caregivers appreciate so the little ones will actually sleep during nap time and at bedtime.

Activity 1: Outdoor color match

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
Using color cards from a paint store, children go outdoors and look for items that match the colors they’re holding in their hands on the cards.

Ideal for ages: 4-6 years

What you’ll need:

  • Paint cards
  • An outdoor space

How to do it:
Autumn has its own color palette, so start out by talking about the season’s colors — the reds, yellows and oranges that we see bursting across the trees. Next, choose paint cards with colors that align with the shades you see outdoors. Ask the children how many natural treasures (leaves, twigs, flowers) they can find outside that match the colors on the cards. Show them how to hold an object to a color on the paint card to see if they match. Equipped with this clear mission, the children will love getting outside on the hunt for Autumn colors.

Image source: Inner child fun

Activity 2: Scavenger hunt

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
A scavenger hunt is always an exciting challenge, but especially so when you’re a preschooler. This Autumn, you can emphasize the season through your choice of scavenger treasures.

Ideal for ages: 3-6 years

What you’ll need:

  • Basket or bucket
  • Paper and pen

How to do it:
Create an illustrated list of items the children need to scavenge for outdoors, and give each child a basket or a bucket to place their treasures in. Show them how to cross off an item that they have found. This activity introduces gentle, active competition, and teaches children how to work through a list methodically. But most importantly, it’s fun!

Activity 3: Make a leaf slide

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
Children love a dramatic “explosion” — and this burst of colorful Autumn leaves will elicit giggles of satisfaction.

Ideal for ages: 2 and up

What you’ll need:

  • A slide
  • Lots of leaves

How to do it:
Talk to the children about how the trees change during this cooler season, and why they shed their leaves. Show them how to gather the dry leaves into a great big pile at the foot of the slide. At this point, children know exactly what’s coming next – sliding down into the pile. The bigger they make the pile and the longer they work to gather leaves, the more satisfying the result will be when they slide down.

Image source: Happy hooligans

Activity 4: Create an Autumn nature table

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
A nature table is a display of items that reflect something from your natural surroundings. Create one with your children using items you gather outdoors.

Ideal for ages: 2 – 6 years

What you’ll need:

  • A small table (or anything to act as a table, like a box with a table cloth over it)
  • Natural items collected outside

How to do it:
You can use any table at your home or setting, but a lower table makes it easier for children to reach — an upside-down box with a white tablecloth over it is perfect. Explain the Autumn theme to your children, tell them about the colors and the cooler weather.

Then, encourage children to find natural items outdoors that reflect this – beautiful leaves, feathers, brown grasses and any other treasures. Once you’ve been out collecting, display your treasures on the table together with your children, making a colorful leafy display. Now, you have a beautiful decoration that the children can reflect on for the whole season, and you can always keep coming back to add more.

Image source: Happy hooligans

Activity 5: Find the tree that matches the leaf

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
It’s like a treasure hunt, the clues are in the leaves. Match the leaf to the tree invites children outdoors to find the tree the leaf came from

Ideal for ages: 3 – 7 years

What you’ll need:

  • Some leaves
  • The trees the leaves came from (in a safe outdoor area)

How to do it:
You will need to collect the leaves before you start the activity. Choose as many leaves from each tree as there are children so that each child can have a leaf to match to each tree. Hand each child their own handful of leaves and ask them to look on the ground and in the trees’ branches to find the tree that belongs to each leaf. Just like that, you’re working on their observation skills, and encouraging their sense of curiosity.

Image source: Confidence meets parenting

Activity 6: Spot the season’s birds

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
Bird watching is a great activity at any time of the year. Especially as Autumn takes the stage, you can look for the birds that will be around during the colder season, and those that are passing through on their way south.

Ideal for ages: 4 – 7 years

What you’ll need:

  • Internet access to research the birds in your area
  • A bird book (not essential but it helps)
  • Binoculars
  • A notebook to record which birds you have spotted

How to do it:
Start by talking to the children about migratory birds that leave during the colder months in search of warmer regions. Research together and find out which birds will be in your area during the colder months. Choose a sunny day to head outdoors with binoculars, and search for those birds.

Image source: Moms.com

Activity 7: Leaf and land art

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
The big idea here is to beautify an outdoor space using natural materials. You could pile pebbles, stack stones, or make these lovely leaf totems — it’s all up to you to explore what’s in your environment.

Ideal for ages: 4 and up

What you’ll need:

  • A long thin twig with leaves pulled off
  • Beautiful leaves

How to do it:
First, decide what sort of nature or leaf art you want to create. To create the leaf art illustrated here, ask the children to choose an assortment of colorful leaves. Using tall and smooth twigs, have the children string the leaves on, one at a time. They’ll have to be careful not to break the leaves, so it’s a great way to practice using gentle hands and exercise those fine motor skills. When a child’s stick is full, show them how to plant the bottom end in the ground. Then, explore your area for more opportunities to make nature sculptures — children can use whatever else is within reach!

Image source: Artful parent

Activity 8: Pumpkin Seed Tree Art

jars of dyed pumpkin seed and hand drawn tree with seeds as leaves with text that reads pumpkin seed art for preschoolers

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
The cooler weather calls for a warm fire and delicious comfort foods. While s’mores aren’t the most nutritious snack, we all could use a treat now and then! Plus, the memories children will have of these occasions will stay with them a long time.

Ideal for ages: 2 – 7 years

What you’ll need:

  • White construction paper
  • Glue bottles
  • Dyed pumpkin seeds
  • Dry pumpkin seeds
  • Liquid watercolors

How to do it:
This is an easy activity because it is open-ended. Of course, the children can make a tree and have each of the dyed pumpkin seeds represent the leaves and the changing colors of the season. But, really, the children can do whatever they want with the materials.

Image source: Fun-A-Day

Bonus Activity: Dying Pumpkin Seeds

As you saw above, one of the materials was dyed pumpkin seeds. This is another great fall activity for the children.

What you'll need: 

  • Dry pumpkin seeds
  • Liquid watercolor
  • Bag or container 

How to do it:
Simply put the dry pumpkin seeds in a baggie or container. Then add a few squirts of the liquid watercolor. Make sure to close the bag or container tightly, and then just shake! You can add as much liquid watercolor as you want to get your favorite shade. Then, spread the seeds out on a sheet and let them dry. That’s it!

From Fun-A-Day

Activity 9: Build a fort

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
This is a wonderful activity to try out after you’ve talked with children about the changes in nature that we see during the Autumn. Many of the little animals (and even the bigger animals) are looking for a safe place for their wintertime nap — and you can make a cozy little burrow too.

Ideal for ages: 2 to 7 years

What you’ll need:

  • Some tall trees
  • Rope
  • A large sheet

How to do it:
Talk to the children about the animals that hibernate, and then head out into the garden or your local woods. Ask the children to remember which animals like to hibernate and talk to them about their favorite ones. They’re going to pretend to be that animal and build a hibernation burrow — or a little fort.

This could be as simple as a hanging tent — simply string a rope between two trees, and hang a sheet across it, pinning the corners down into the ground. Now all the little animals can move in and out of the hibernation fort.

Image source: Redtri

Activity 10: Science and observation: The rotting pumpkin experiment

The outdoor children’s activity, in a nutshell:
You can easily boost children’s observation skills with this rotting pumpkin experiment — it’s both icky and interesting. Plus, it’s a great use for your leftover squash, especially after Halloween.

Ideal for ages: 4-7 years

What you’ll need:

  • A pumpkin (any type of pumpkin will work)
  • An area where you can leave the pumpkin without it becoming lunch for some wildlife
  • A diary or notebook to record your observations

How to do it:
Place a cut pumpkin outside, in a place where you can easily see it or walk to it. Then, each day, go check it out with your children to watch the way it decays. Use scientific words like hypothesis, data, and observation and teach the children how to use these terms correctly. Record the children’s observations of the slow decay of your pumpkin. You might want to read to them what they observed the day before, and ask them if they see anything different. You could also record their observations and play that back to them each day before they look for any changes. The idea is to hypothesize what you think will happen and watch to see if that actually is what happens — it’s a big part of our observation skills.

Image source: Confidence meets parenting

The big ideas

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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