From Our Blog: Our 10 Favorite Fall Traditions

A view of New England foliage in New Hampshire's White Mountains.||||

The fall season is all about fun family time, a delicious harvest, tasty food, and giving thanks. And you can do it all without the heat of summer…or the stress of the holidays! We’ve rounded up our favorite traditions, activities, and recipes to help you and your family make the most of the season.

Are you racking your brain for new things to do with your child this fall? Or, are you hoping to create a new seasonal family tradition? Either way, we’ve got you covered — with our 10 fall family traditions & activities, including cooking ideas, outdoor adventures, games, and everything in between.

Fall Family Activities with Learning in Mind

Go Apple and Pumpkin Picking Apple picking on a day off from school (or on the weekend!) can keep the kids’ downtime educational — and it’s a fun outdoor activity that keeps everyone entertained for a good portion of the day. Some orchards even have a playground, petting zoo, wagon rides, warm apple cider donuts, and plenty of space for running around, so there’s no shortage of activities.

Cook with Fall Flavors After your apple picking adventure, baking will likely be in your plans! Have your child help you in the kitchen. Before you get started, pick out a recipe together and lay out the appropriate measuring tools and ingredients. Help your child read the amount of each ingredient you’ll need, scoop them into a bowl, and mix them all together. And, of course, set aside time to enjoy the final product together!

Take a Leaf-Peeping Adventure If you live somewhere that the leaves change color, head outside. You can stroll around a nearby park…or drive somewhere a bit further to go for a nature walk or hike. Bring a camera, paper, and drawing utensils, and as you walk, have your child take or draw pictures of leaves he sees along the way. Bring a Ziploc bag, too, and collect fallen leaves to use in art projects in the coming weeks. You can also use the leaves as a science lesson — teach your child what the leaves’ parts are called and why they changed from green to red, orange, or yellow.

Make a Game with Pumpkins Visit a pumpkin patch, and, in addition to your pumpkin for carving, pick out a variety of mini pumpkins and gourds with your child. Once you get home, create a sorting game and have your child sort by color, shape, and size. You can also introduce the concept of comparison here — have your child arrange the pumpkins and gourds from smallest to largest, and vice versa.

Make a Nature Art Project Have your child use the same items he or she picked up on the scavenger hunt as art supplies. Put them out on the table, along with paper, paint, and glue, and see what your child creates! Leaves are especially versatile — show your child the different things you can do with them, like using crayons to create leaf rubbings, tracing them onto paper, and creating a nature collage.

Carve and Decorate Pumpkins Do you remember picking out the perfect pumpkin when you were a kid? Carving and decorating pumpkins as a family can create fun memories and an ongoing fall tradition for years to come. Head out to the pumpkin patch and help your child pick out a few pumpkins. Once you’re home, lay some newspaper on the floor and work together to choose how to carve them. Let your child help you make the cuts (if he or she is old enough) and do the messy work of scraping out the pumpkin guts. Be sure to save the seeds for roasting later! If you’d rather not carve (especially if you have a younger child), you can get creative with paint, markers, glitter, or even Mr. Potato Head pieces.

Challenge the Senses Help your child explore different textures and develop fine motor skills and vocabulary by putting a collection of seasonal objects — dried ears of corn and/or kernels, dried beans, leaves, acorns, rocks, gourds, and mini pumpkins — together in a bin or box.. Provide tools like tongs or scoops and encourage her to move the objects around, and if you have additional containers, she can also move the objects from one container to another. This is an especially fun activity for babies!

Tune into Playoff Baseball Baseball may feature the boys of summer, but with fall, comes the best part of the season. Watching your favorite team compete to win it all in the postseason can be a great family bonding experience. Get the hot dogs on the grill, make some popcorn, and settle in to watch some games together!

Set up a Backyard Tailgate And don’t forget about football! Fire up the grill and have a family cookout in the backyard before the big game. You can also set up age-appropriate activities, such as face painting, cornhole (or bags), an obstacle course, or a good old fashioned game of catch.

Give Thanks Thanksgiving might feel like the unofficial end to fall…and the start of the long winter, but it’s the perfect time to celebrate the season by talking with your child about the holiday and what it means to be thankful. Take turns sharing what you’re both thankful for this year. Flip through magazines together to find pictures of each thing. Cut them out, glue them onto a piece of paper, and make a collage (if you don’t have magazines, draw pictures instead). If your child knows how to write each letter, help sound out the words and write what each item is under its picture. You can hang the collage in your child’s room, on the fridge, or anywhere else in the house!

I’m a former Bright Horizons pre-kindergarten teacher living out my passion for writing and kids in the BH home office. I love all things crafty and am a self-proclaimed good cook, always looking for a new recipe to try. On any given weekend, you’ll find me and my husband trying a new brunch spot or hiking with our fur child, Jordy, a Mini Australian Shepherd.    

More on Fall Traditions and Activities:

  • Read more Family Room blog conversations about fall
  • E-family News: The Importance of Unstructured Outdoor Play for Kids
  • Family Room Blog: Turning Wholesome Ingredients into Healthy, Convenient Meals
  • Family Room Blog: Indoor Activities for Kids