By Roz Andrews
It’s not always easy to amuse your children during the fall. As the weather gets colder and wetter, and the days get shorter and evening comes faster, children can’t play in the backyard or go to the park as often as they did in summer. This may mean they end up spending a lot of time at home; alternatively, you might go out and spend a lot of money to keep your children entertained.
However, there are many things you can do with your children in the fall without spending a fortune. Here is a selection of five indoor and outdoor activities that cost little or no money.
Start a Project
Think of a theme for a project that your children could do at home or outdoors. Ask them what they’d like to do within this theme. For example, if the theme is “fall,” they could:
. Write a list of what they like and don’t like about the fall.
. Collect as many objects as they can find around your home with fall colors.
. Cut out fall pictures from old magazines and advertising brochures and make a collage.
. Write a poem about the fall.
. Find fall-themed books either at home or in the library, and read and discuss them.
. Collect natural objects, such as autumn leaves, pine cones, and acorns, and make a fall-themed display at home
Let your children take the lead as much as possible. You’ll find they often come up with great ideas.
Go for a Fall Walk
Put on warm clothes and rain boots and go for a fall walk. Rustle through piles of leaves. See how many colors of leaves you can spot. Collect leaves, branches, pine cones, and other interesting natural objects that have fallen to the ground. Talk about how the natural environment changes during the fall.
When you return home, warm up with a hot chocolate, and if you wish, make a wreath or collage with the leaves and other objects you’ve collected. Alternatively, place small branches with colorful leaves in vases of water or make a fall display of pine cones and acorns in a wooden or glass bowl.
Cook or Bake Fall-Themed Dishes and Desserts
Let your children help you cook a simple fall-inspired meal, such as healthy Waldorf salad with crunchy apples and celery, or homemade turkey nuggets. To round off the meal, bake fall-themed cakes and pastries, such as apple cookies, carrot cake, or pumpkin pie.
If you’re on a tight budget, look for recipes that will use up ingredients you already have in your cupboards and refrigerator. If you don’t have all the ingredients you need, there’s no need to rush to the grocery store. Be creative and substitute other ingredients and see what you come up with! For example, you can use applesauce instead of sugar when making cookies.
Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
Museums and art galleries are warm and interesting places to escape from the cold on a fall day. Special drop-in activities for children, such as crafts, painting, demonstrations, and talks, are often offered.
Even if there are no organized activities available, there may be a special children’s trail of things to find around the museum or historical clothes for children to dress up in.
If your children are artistic and creative, they’ll love visiting an art gallery and looking at paintings. To inspire children and awaken their interest in art, many art galleries also offer such activities as watercolor painting and decorating book covers.
To reduce costs, look for free-admission days. If you plan to visit a particular museum or art gallery several times during the year, save money by purchasing an annual membership that will allow you and your children to go as often as you wish.
Tidy and Reorganize Bedrooms
Fall is the ideal time for your children to give their bedrooms a good tidying up and sort out things they no longer need or want, such as clothes they’ve outgrown or toys they’re no longer interested in. Take these to a thrift store with your children, or if you wish, let your children help you sell them on eBay or at a garage sale.
Once the clutter has been removed, rearrange the furniture to give your children’s bedrooms a new look in time for Christmas.
With so many free or low-cost activities available, there’s no need for your children to get bored during the fall. At home, you can keep your children busy without spending any money at all. If you want to go out, find out about inexpensive places to visit in your area and take your children along.