If you follow our adventures you’ll know we’re huge fans of the outdoors. As a family we have a natural pull towards exploring and nature. Despite this, getting the right balance between free play and tech time is a constant battle. As our children grow their desire to immerse themselves in a digital world constantly increases.
Even with this in mind it still comes as a shock to read that The Association of Play Industries (API) have reported that by the age of eight the average child will have spent a whole year sitting in front of a screen! I try to take my children out everyday regardless of the weather. There may be a few gripes and groans as we put on our coats but once we’re out (generally!) everyone is happier.
Sometimes it can take the smallest thing to trigger a moment of inspiration or motivation. I often use blogs and social media to see what other families are up to, so now it’s my turn to pass the baton. I’ve put together 10 very simple ideas for getting outdoors in the Autumn that I hope you’ll find accessible and inspiring.
September and October are prime apple picking months. Take a look at some of your local farm shops or picking farms to see if they’re opening their orchards to the public. We have one farm shop that invites the children to help press any apples they’ve picked to make apple juice. We also have local cider makers, Bignose & Beardy who invite local families to help pick apples in exchange for cider and sausages!
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
For us visiting a local pumpkin patch and getting to choose a pumpkin right from the spot it was grown has become an Autumn tradition. This year we visited a small dairy farm just outside Lewes open for pumpkin sales just a few weekends a year in the run up to Halloween. The outing allows the children to explore a farm, see a range of produce growing and best of all we get to support our local farming community. Check your local events listings throughout October to find your local pumpkin patches.
Build a Den
Get into the woods. Collect some materials. Then create a shelter to be proud of! Perfect for family team building and feeding imaginations. Over the years we’ve built cafe’s, homes and evening police stations using woodland resources. Make sure grown ups get stuck in to help with basic design and heavy lifting!
Make a Leaf Lantern
Collect a selection of brightly coloured, Autumnal leaves. Leave them to dry and press over night. Stick the leaves on a piece of baking paper. Reinforce the edges with strips of card board. Roll into a tube and stick firmly with tape or glue. Add some wire for the handle. Use indoors with battery tea lights.
Play Pooh Sticks
We’re very lucky to live a short drive away from the original Pooh Sticks Bridge in the Ashdown Forest. But of course you can play Pooh Sticks anywhere: you just need a bridge, stream and sticks! Sometimes you just need a small goal to make an adventure out of a day. Collect a big pile of sticks as you walk to your bridge do you can make the most of the fun once you get there.
Visit a National Trust Kitchen Garden
So many National Trust properties feature stunning kitchen gardens and Autumn is the perfect season to explore. See pumpkins and squashes ripening in the harvest sunshine whilst kale, artichokes and parsnips all add colour. Perfect for little explorers.
Build a Rope Swing
Fun in any season but that little bit easier to set up in the Autumn when foliage is less dense. Top tips for setting up your Autumnal rope swing are:
Choose a branch big and strong enough to hold a range of weights.
Avoid evergreens and fruit trees. Sturdy oaks are ideal!
Place your rope 3-5 feet from the trees trunk.
Don’t pick a branch too far from the ground. 20 feet should be the maximum.
Lastly make sure the rope you use is strong and sturdy and unlikely to fray.
Have an Autumn Treasure Hunt
Nature offers a lot of treasures throughout the Autumnal months. Get little ones exploring by creating a picture or written treasure list…or even simpler get them to find a treasure of every colour of the rainbow. Leaves if all shades, conkers, acorns, sycamore helicopters, ripened apples and blackberries…just a few examples of the rainbow of treasures you can find!
Visit a Maize Maze
You can find Maize Mazes all over the country, many open from the height of Summer through to the Autumn months of September and October. Some are even themed for extra fun with dinosaur, pirate or Halloween surprises around each corner!
Go on a Welly Walk
Don’t let the rain put off play. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as the wrong weather – just the wrong clothes. Put on your wellies and wet gear and find some puddles to jump in. Let the rain enhance your day and not put a dampener on things!
I hope you’ve found some inspiration here. If I have any advice it would be to keep activities simple and follow your children’s lead. Young eyes find fascination in the simplest of places. Take your time. Use your senses. Enjoy this wonderful season!