Eight Fun & Totally Engaging Fall Activities for You and Your Kids
Every year when fall unofficially arrives after Labor Day, there’s often a lot of “sad talk” about how summer is over. All the fun outdoor activities like swimming, going to the beach and bar-b-cues come to an end and it’s back to school.
Fall Can Be More Fun than Summer on Long Island, NY
Somewhere around mid October when sweaters are on and the air is crisp, it really starts to feel like Autumn and everyone falls in love with all the fun it brings. The cool mornings, sunny afternoons and crunch of the leaves are all a reminder of all the fun things there are to do in the fall. Some years it feels like there is more going on in the first month of fall than all of summer combined. It seems like at every corner of Long Island there’s a fair or fall festival happening which includes rides, great food, and arts and crafts.
Fall on Long Island Brings Great Adventures for Kids
The weather is usually really well suited to being outdoors, the leaves are beautifully colored, pumpkins are popping up everywhere and there’s no end to picking your own great adventures. When it comes to engaging fall activities for kids to do, there’s no shortage on Long Island. It’s literally the most acceptable time of year to tell your kids to “take a hike.” Ready to have a blast with your kids? Here are some ideas to keep you and your children out and about in the fresh air this fall.
Walks or Hikes at State Parks & Botanical Gardens on Long Island
Pick a direction, pack a bag of healthy snacks and beverages and get an early start and head out to your favorite state park or botanical garden. Walking or hiking through one of the many parks while listening to the birds chirping and watching the fall colors can be one of the most refreshing and inexpensive ways to spend a day with your kids. You’ll be sure to see local wildlife foraging around and stocking up for winter and it’s a great opportunity to collect some leaves and identify trees.
There are many apps available to identify birds, trees and fall foliage, but if you’re looking for a totally unplugged experience there are tons of actual printed BOOKS (remember those?) to help you. Consider taking photos along the way which you can use later to identify things. Does this count as being unplugged? You decide. Tip: Take your leaf collections home, press them between paper towels inside heavy books for a few weeks and save them for crafts at another time.
Farmer’s Markets Abound on Long Island, NY
What better way is there to instill a love of cooking and healthy eating than introducing your kids to a local farmer’s market? It’s a great way to teach your children about seasonal produce and the benefits of freshly picked vegetables. Round up a variety of different fruits and vegetables so your kids can try new and different things.
The big benefits of shopping at farmer’s markets, aside from the obvious, is that it helps support healthy communities and helps teach kids about sustainability. It also increases kids ‘grow awareness’ and ensures you’re getting the freshest produce possible, while allowing you to opt for organic choices.
Recipes can be found from many sources both on- and off-line including supermarket-produced magazines – sometimes they’re offered at the farmer’s markets themselves. Once again, a trip the library or bookstore can be very helpful. If you’re not an experimental cook, some of the easiest ingredients to work with include sweet potatoes, zucchini (think zucchini pancakes and zucchini bread!) and carrots.
Your Kids Can Pick their Own Fruits and Vegetables on Long Island
Autumn is a perfect time of year to plan a trip to the nearest apple orchard or local pumpkin farm and start picking. There are many in various parts of Long Island, more so on the East End. While you’re there you can enjoy fresh, warm cider and cider donuts as an extra treat. You can even pick up a pie to bring home for later. If apple’s aren’t your thing, head out to the closest farm for pumpkin picking. If you’re lucky you’ll encounter a corn maze or hay ride as an extra treat for your kids.
Extra Bonus: Baking Pies with Your Kids
Wondering what to do with all of those apples or pumpkins this year? You can plan a baking activity with your kids one evening after dinner or on a rainy day. Maybe you’ll even practice ahead of time for Thanksgiving pies this year.
Raking Leaves Can Be Fun Exercise for Kids
Raking leaves is great exercise and can be a lot of fun when done right! Kids and adults alike can engage in competitive raking to see who is faster and who can fill a leaf bag first. Crunching around in leaf piles can be fun as long as the piles are picked up
when finished. This is a really helpful activity at home and can be a welcome volunteer act for an elderly neighbor or over-burdened neighbor. It’s a great way to teach kids skills and responsibility and to be helpful individuals while they are getting plenty of fresh air and exercise. Not to mention it’s a great way to nurture budding young entrepreneurial spirits. Bonus: This counts as a TOTALLY “unplugged” activity! You can also Google ways to compost a leaf pile to make your own nutrients for that vegetable garden you might start growing next spring (more on that later).
Competitive Leaf Collecting Is Fun & Educational
Tip: Grab a chance at another friendly competition that can have a bonus benefit later: Competitive leaf collecting! Try to collect the most variety and colorful leaves. Sandwich them between paper towels and press them between the pages of a heavy book for a few weeks. Save them for crafts at another time or use them as placards to decorate your Thanksgiving table. You can even use them to decorate a fruit and cheese platter. The possibilities are endless.
Build a Scarecrow & Decorate Your Home for Halloween
Buy some hay from a local farm or craft supply store. Pick out an old flannel shirt and pants or purchase some items at a local charity thrift store. Tie the arms and legs at the ends and stuff with hay. Use a trick or treat bag for the head and stuff it with hay. Place your scarecrow on a chair or propped against a fence in your front yard. Decorate with pumpkins and mums and skeletons or a tombstone display if you like. Checkout dollar stores for good deals on decorative items to jazz up your scarecrow. You can also fill up pumpkin bags with all those leaves you’ve been raking up!
Charity & Fun Runs for Kids Are All Over Long Island in Fall
Charity and Fun Run programs that kids can participate in and be challenged age-appropriately are available all over Long Island. These programs are great opportunities to develop speed and endurance as well as engage kids to get involved in raising funds for good causes. Long Island Fun Runners hosts programs throughout the year and you can sign up for the year or drop in and out seasonally. The John Theissen Children’s Foundation Freaky 5k will take place this year on October 30 in Wantagh. There is a 1/4 mile trick or trot for kids under age 10 as well as cash prizes and costume awards. It’s sure to be an all-around fun day for you and your kids.
Scavenger Hunts Around Long Island Are Fun for the Whole Family
Scavenger Hunts became great entertainment during Covid lockdowns and had participants riding around visiting educational locations and this fun activity has continued. Check out Watson Adventures which offers The Plane Crazy Scavenger Hunt at the Long Island Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City as well as the Long Island Museum Mania Scavenger Hunt in Stony Brook. They even host the Anywhere on Long Island Games for your own particular group in the streets of your town or in a local conference room. Games include outdoor adventures, murder mystery games, trivia games and more. Great for kids and adults. Check out their public calendar.
STEM Explorers Projects
The Long Island Children’s Museum promotes the importance of nature and environmental advocacy through interactive educational programs. With the help of “Green Teens,” who are specially trained in interactive programs, “STEM Explorers” are designed for kids to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as a part of fun projects. Creating beautiful art and patterns from found objects such as rocks, sticks, shells, petals, leaves and pinecones or creating observation journals are just some of the activities offered. The museum has many ways to encourage kids to observe nature in conjunction with nature scavenger hunts. The “STEM Explorers powered by Green Teens” is made possible with the support of National Grid. Check the calendar of events for details.
Fun & Engaging Fall Activities for You and Your Kids Are Also Healthy
These eight fall activities you can do as a family are not only fun and engaging, but also help your entire family enjoy the fresh air and exercise while stretching your imagination and creativity. You and your kids will no doubt learn some new things in the process.