If you’re looking for some Autumn Activities for kids, then you’ve come to the right place! Autumn (or Fall, depending on where in the world you live), is our favourite season. The cooler weather means that we spend most of our time outdoors making the most of what mother nature has to offer.
But when it’s time to go back inside, there’s no reason why the nature themed play can’t continue and that’s why I’ve rounded up 24 Autumn Activities for kids. I’d like for you to think of these as playful prompts – use the photos and ideas as inspiration, but don’t feel like anything suggested is set in stone.
The post has been updated for 2022 and is divided into the following sections:
- Autumn Ideas
- Pumpkin play ideas
- Halloween ideas
Making use of what you have:
You’ll notice that many of the same materials (largely pumpkins and pinecones!) have been used over and over for different activities: we try to avoid waste as much as possible, and so really get mileage out of items that we buy or collect.
The nature treasures I use are seasonal to where I live (Vienna, Austria). If you don’t have some of these items, simply use what is seasonal to you.
What about Halloween?
Whilst we don’t have anything at all against Halloween, I always find that Autumn (or fall, depending on where you are from), gets shunted aside in favour of the ghoulish activities. Autumn is such a beautiful, magical time of year in it’s own right – the abundance of fallen nature treasures are the perfect opportunity to really let children explore their senses.
In the early years particularly, be mindful of your young child’s ability to distinguish from real and pretend themes. Halloween can be really scary for little ones who cannot understand how the fun holiday differs from reality.
To little ones, the changes of season in themselves are just as exciting. The activities featured here should give your toddlers and pre-schoolers plenty of opportunities to explore and whilst some Halloween ideas are included, try not to skip to Halloween play activities too early.
Age Recommendations & Safety:
As with all of the activities featured on the blog, you know your child’s ability best. If your child still has a tendency to mouth everything insight – avoid using small items such as conkers (they are poisonous if ingested).
Check any spices you use for play. Nutmeg is considered a hallucinogenic so use it sparingly if you try the pumpkin spice dough recipe.
Any planned activity should always be done under the supervision of an adult.
When to Play:
I always recommend that any playful prompts are done at a time when your child is well rested and has a full stomach. Try to pinpoint a time during your daily rhythm where a play activity might suit. For example, after a mid morning snack.
Our favourite approach is to present each activity as an invitation.
Autumn Themed Activities for Kids – 10 Playful Prompts
Firstly, what exactly do I mean by prompts? Well, these are designed to give you a quick overview of the types of activities you can do with your young children. Use them mainly as inspiration and don’t get too caught up in doing things in exactly the same way.
If you want to quickly skip to a specific activity, you can do so by clicking the links below:
1. Leaf Confetti
When your next on a walk with your little ones, see how many leaves you can find. Look for a variety of different shapes and colours that you can investigate and explore at home.
To make leaf confetti, pat out any of the moisture with some paper towels, then present on a tray for your child and invite them to snip the leaves into small pieces (confetti).
The leaf confetti can be used in a variety of different ways:
- as part of a small world
- in a playdough invitation
- to make autumnal art
Play dough is one of our go-to activities no matter what the season. This pawprint activity works particularly well after a trip to the forest to help pique your little one’s interest in the animals that might live there.
Try rolling out a lump of homemade or store bought play dough, then make some prints in the dough. Invite your child to match the animals to their pawprints.
We personally love doing this activity with seasonal scented playdough. Try adding coffee, cinnamon or pumpkin spice to a traditional play dough recipe.
3. Spice Paint
If you’ve collected a basket full of colourful leaves, try designing some paints to match. You can even make up names for the colours you’ve created.
Just mix the loose spices with a little water and experiment with the consistencies.
Caution, check the spices in your cupboard to see if they are safe for children to use. For example, nutmeg is known as a hallucinogenic.
4. Loose Parts Tray
The IKEA Glis box lends itself perfectly to a whole range of loose parts play. We have four on rotation for various activities and the autumn themed box is one of our favourites.
If you intend to keep conkers for play, preserve them by soaking in vinegar overnight, then baking on a low heat (around 100c) for a couple of hours.
Here are some more nature treasures for you to collect:
5. Pinecone Roll
Another easy fall-themed process art activity to try – this time with pinecones!
Place blobs of autumnal themed paints into the bottom of a cardboard box, then add the pinecones. Invite your child to roll the pinecones around the box until they are covered in plaint.
This activity is a great gross motor skills workout as your child will need to use their whole body in order to make the pinecones move.
Additional tip: try using seasonal paints so you can save the pinecones and use in seasonal centrepieces.
6. Pre-writing Tray with Autumnal Loose Parts
Draw lines, squiggles and shapes onto a flat surface. Here we used chalk on a tuff spot tray, but you could just as easily go outside or even draw on paper.
This activity is great for pre-writing skills, as your child places the loose parts on the shapes, they will start to be able to follow the formations made.
7. Seasonal Scoop and Pour Sensory Bin
Even the simplest sensory bin can be given a makeover with the addition of a few seasonal nature treasures.
Due to their natural orange colour, lentils make an excellent base for Autumnal play – just save the lentils in a resealable bag or jar to reuse again for play at a later date.
Then add a selection of bowls, spoons or scoops along with any seasonal treasures so your child can practise their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
8. Nature’s Paint Brushes
Autumnal paints combined with nature treasures makes for such a pretty picture. We’re big fans of process art in the early years: it’s so important to let little ones explore textures and materials, rather than focus on the end product. This activity provides the ideal opportunity to let early learners get creative without the pressure of making a certain picture.
Tip: if your aiming for a vibrant end result to emulate the picture above, stick to 2-3 colours in Autumnal hues.
9. Conker Counting
Here’s always an abundance of conkers in the local parks and they can be used for so many fine motor activities.
For this activity, I used a black permanent marker to add the numbers 1-10 to each section of an egg carton. I then wrote the corresponding numbers onto the conkers.
Whilst we used this as a way to help recognise numbers, you could also try:
- letter recognition
10. Nature Treasure Match
A nature treasure match is about as simple as it gets when it comes to Autumnal themed ideas.
Simply gather together a collection of nature treasures – e.g. feathers, leaves, twigs – and place onto a sheet or paper or cardboard, then draw around them with a black marker pen.
Invite your child to match the treasures to the outline of the shape.
Pumpkin Themed Activities for Kids – 10 Playful Prompts
1. Elastic Pull
Mini pumpkins are so versatile for Autumn themed activities. We buy several from the local florist here in Vienna every year.
Wrap some elastic bands around the pumpkins and invite your child to pull them off again. This activity is good for fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perseverance too.
This activity will even help your child put their socks on and off as pulling at the elastics helps mimic the same action needed for socks!
2. Messy Pumpkin Scoop
We tend to do this with the innards of a jack-o-lantern or with display pumpkins that have past their best – this is typically towards the end of the Halloween season. It’s a great (and messy!) sensory experience that is best done outside.
3. Pumpkin Dot Art Inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama,
This is an easy-peasy way of involving very young children in art work without making a huge mess. Simply provide a selection of dot stickers and invite your child to cover the pumpkin.
Not only is this fun and creative, but great for fine motor skills too.
For older children, try studying the work of Yayoi Kusama first, then use a combination of small and large black dot stickers to create your own versions of her famous pumpkin art.
4. Pumpkin Process Art
Whilst pumpkin carving is undoubtedly fun, it’s also practically impossible for little ones to do safely so here’s an alternatively: no-carve pumpkin process art.
Again, if you choose a limited range of complimentary colours – or even use this as an opportunity to learn about colour theory – then you can put the finished pumpkin on display, too.
5. Visit a pumpkin patch or farmers market
We love visiting a specialist farmers market on the outskirts of Vienna for a look at all of the weird and wonderful pumpkins. Not only is it a great opportunity to
6. Pumpkin Patch
Sensory rice is a fun activity no matter what the season. You can either use a batch that you already have or opt for seasonal colours to make your very own simple pumpkin patch small world.
You can find out our recipe for making sensory rice by visiting our Pinterest page here.
7. Pumpkin Wash
This is such a simple sensory activity to try with ‘older’ mini pumpkins that you have. Here we dyed the water red for a more Autumnal theme and added washing up liquid to make it bubbly.
The addition of scoops and spoons helps fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
8. Sticker Peel
Help your child build up strength and coordination in their hands and fingers by placing a load of stickers onto a pumpkin, then invite them to peel the stickers off!
9. Hammer the Pumpkins
This is such a fantastic activity for hand-eye coordination! All you need is a pumpkin, some golf tees and a wooden hammer. You can see the activity in action over on our Pinterest page here.
10. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Role Play
I’m not going to lie, I really do love a good pumpkin spice latte during the Autumn months! At the time of writing originally writing this blog post in 2020, disposable cups were mandatory (thanks to Covid), so I brought them home and washed them out for role play.
We used these in conjunction with our pumpkin spice play dough and dried flowers for a fun little role play set up.
Halloween Themed Activities – 5 Playful Prompts
1. Witches Brew
Use your batch of sensory rice in conjunction with a Halloween cauldron, hollowed out pumpkins and spooky props such as googly eyes and spiders for an easy Halloween themed sensory bin.
2. Jackson Pollack Pumpkins
I always associate Halloween with day-glo colours! We used the MALA paints from IKEA to create these easy decorative pumpkins in minutes. This is a perfect alternative to pumpkin carving for young children.
3. Pumpkin Fizz
Give your pumpkins a good send off at the end of the season with this simple STEAM activity.
Once you’ve cut the pumpkin open and scooped out the middle, add some bicarb of soda. Mix some water and white vinegar together with food colouring, then let your children have fun experimenting!
4. Potion Making
The beautiful thing about potion making is that you can easily theme it to the seasons with the colours you use. Dye some water with food colouring or natural pigments such as beetroot to make some seasonal potions.
Here are some other resources that are fun in Halloween themed potions
- googly eyes
- mini spiders figurines or bat figurines
- pumpkin seeds
- dried petals
- bicarb of soda and vinegar – to make it fizzy
5 Spooky Soup
All you need is some foamy warm water dyed with the colour of your choice and some googly eyes. Add play kitchen utensils and pots, plus spoons and bowls for a simple sensory play option that you can prep in under a minute.
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