While summer ranks as the favorite season for many, I’d like to make a case for why fall is actually a better season for getting outside and being active:
Now that we’ve established why fall is a perfect season for getting outside, let’s talk about why fall outdoor play is really good for children. Here are a few benefits of getting your kids outside and active this autumn:
Thanks to many months of social distancing for COVID prevention, you and your kids both have probably spent a TON of time cooped up at home. There’s just something invigorating about getting outside and taking in some fresh air. Studies also show that breathing cooler outdoor air can make you feel more awake and energized. Worried about catching a cold or some other virus? You’re actually much less likely to contract a communicable disease outside than you are inside.
Summer in the Southeast can be downright hot, humid, and just plain miserable. And the winter air can sometimes be too cold and dry for comfort. But the fall air, on the other hand, is a happy medium. Kids won’t sweat out their body weight in an hour, and they also don’t have to wrap up in so many layers that body movement is restricted. If you’re ready to help lead your kids towards enjoying a healthier, more active outdoor lifestyle, then fall is the perfect time to do it.
We hear a lot about negative impacts of prolonged UV exposure to the skin, and that’s something you certainly need to be mindful of when taking your children outside. But even so, a small amount of daily sun exposure is actually good for you. Spending just 10 minutes outdoors in a sunny environment every day can provide children a healthy dose of vitamin D for bone development, as well as for a more positive mood.
Of course, one of the best things about outdoor play is that it gets those kids’ limbs moving and their hearts pumping. Regular exercise has been shown to provide all kinds of benefits for children, including improving heart & lung health, fighting conditions like obesity and diabetes, and helping kids to develop healthier habits for a lifetime.
When children are able to explore nature in the fall, or are given other open-ended outdoor play options, their minds get a good workout, too. Discovery and imaginative play allow children to express their creativity, as well as foster some good critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Too much screen time puts children (and adults) at greater risk of obesity, can disrupt sleep patterns, and can negatively impact relationships with family & friends. In addition, excessive screen time has been linked to lower attention spans, and greater instances of anxiety and depression. So put those screens down, and get outdoors to enjoy some fall activities!
Looking for some good ideas of things you can do outside with your children this autumn? Then gather round, because we’ve got some can’t-miss activities and adventures for you to try! Plus, most everything on this list could be easily tweaked to suit a more specific Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Fall Festival theme.
There may not be a more quintessential fun fall activity for kids than jumping into a big leaf pile. Just ensure that the ground underneath is as soft and smooth as possible, and make a point to remove any large sticks or rocks beforehand. Then, rake some leaves into a pile, and let your kids go to town! And if your kids are old enough, hand each of them a rake and put them to work in helping to create their own leaf piles. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you!
Here’s a good idea for combining physical activity with fall outdoor opportunities – take your kids on a leaf color hike! Just create a leaf treasure hunt printout ahead of time which features all the colors of the rainbow (or whichever colors you’d like to include), and ask your children to look for leaves which match each and every color. Green, yellow, orange, red, and brown should be pretty easy. But can they find a purple leaf? A white leaf? A black leaf? The first one to find all the needed colors of leaves wins! The prize to be awarded to the winner is totally up to your discretion. This is an activity you can truly do anywhere, from a state park to your own backyard.
Apples are in season across the Southeast in the fall, so this is a perfect time to take the children to visit a local orchard. Simply plan your trip around what’s ripe and what’s available in your area. You can even create a carryover back-at-home activity by having your kids help you to make your own apple pies, applesauce, or cider. Plus, apple products that are canned can last your family for many months!
Here’s some more fun you can have with fallen leaves. Teach your children how to match a leaf to the tree it comes from! Challenge your kids to find as many different leaves as they can, in every shape and size. You can ask them to match any leaves they find with leaves that are still on the trees, and guess what type of trees they may be. Then when you’re finished, have them look up the various leaves they’ve brought home in a field guide, a nature book, or on the internet. It’s a fun scavenger hunt, and it also helps your kids to learn what type of trees live in your local area, or even in your own backyard.
This is an activity which can get a little messy, so it’s really perfect to do outdoors. Get some pumpkins from a local grocer or farmer’s market (or simply grow your own), and then give your kids an opportunity to decorate their own individual pumpkins for fall, for Halloween, for Thanksgiving, or any way they’d like! If your children are old enough to be able to handle a knife safely, then let them carve a face (or other artistic expressions) into their pumpkins. But if they’re not ready for knives yet, you can always provide them with some paint for pumpkin decoration. Encourage them to be creative, and have fun with it!
Here’s a great activity for the twilight hours of a fall evening. Build a fire in a rock-bordered pit or metal firepit in your own backyard, and show your kids how to make their own s’mores! This isn’t a particularly vigorous physical activity, but it’s a great time to be able to sit around the fire and spend time together as a family. Once the s’mores are all made and eaten, you can linger around the fire and share stories all the way up until bedtime. A perfect night!
We hope you’ll find these fall outdoor activity suggestions & tips to be helpful, as you look to create your own fun opportunities for your children. And if you need some help with designing and installing the perfect playground environment for your school, church, park, HOA, nonprofit, or business organization, Carolina Recreation & Design is here to serve you in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee! Connect with us through this simple form, or just give us a call at (704) 664-1833! We’ve got all your commercial playground installation, site preparation, and site amenity needs covered!
Carolina Recreation & Design is a full-service general contracting company offering turnkey installation of recreational products for parks, schools, churches, clubs, daycares and amusement parks. We offer premium-quality commercial products that are safe, fun, and built to last.