You don’t have to spend big bucks to make fall weekends special. We’ve got you covered. These 29 ideas are fun, practical, active, creative, inspiring, and free (or ridiculously inexpensive).
Plan A: Take in the Arts
1. Tap your feet or sing along with the pros at free kid-friendly events in your area. Find events by checking the Facebook pages of your town, library, or your child’s school. Fun things to do are often posted and updated there.
2. Dress down and attend outdoor concerts or high-school plays that are suitable for children. If theater is your child’s thing, look for a kid-theater production. Search for discounts on daytime shows.
3. Enjoy free mall attractions and hometown extravaganzas that start their holiday run early.
4. Visit a sculpture garden. Run around. Touch. Admire.
5. Rock the ’hood with music. Throw a kids-only backyard afternoon dance-a-thon. Invite neighborhood friends. Serve apple cider and bob for apples.
Plant B: Get Active
6. Walk to town with the kids. Choose a colorful route and gather interesting leaves along the way. Get to know the area. Stop for a warm-me-up cup of hot chocolate, and check out the high-school football game or youth-soccer match.
7. Scout out new-to-you, wide-open spaces where kids can hop, skip, jump, and run around safely. Try a county park, basketball court, or a local middle school or high school track.
8. Commune with nature. Take a hike and follow a gentle path—or head for high ground to look for points of interest. Been there and done that? Head for the hills in another town.
9. Build forts, tents, and spaceships out of old blankets and sturdy lawn chairs. Set them up in your backyard or in the den or playroom. Serve lunch and snacks in these fun spaces.
10. Create an obstacle course for children in your backyard with leaf piles, trash cans, baskets, or traffic cones. Ready, set, go!
11. Embrace your backyard. Play tetherball, tag, or touch football. Rake the leaves (in fact, make that an annual family event).
Plan C: Get Down with Nature
12. Explore the night sky. Name the constellations. Watch the moon. Look for planets.
13. Write your names on your backyard lawn in giant letters. Use sticks, stones, logs, or leaves. Then head to the lawn at the front of the house and this time write “Happy Fall” for all the neighbors to see.
14. Make autumnal placemats. Gather fall leaves and iron them (on a low setting) between sheets of wax paper. Use the placemats tonight.
15. Teach the kids preparedness. Buy shovels, salt, window scrapers, warm coats, boots, and other cold-weather supplies now.
16. Create a pinecone centerpiece. Add faux leaves and flowers from the dollar store.
17. Raid Dad’s closet to build a scarecrow.
18. Hang apple slices from trees you can see from the kitchen window. Watch the birds feast.
19. Make a snow-/stormy-day box ahead of time. Assemble lots of things to do.
20. Celebrate your family. Take outdoor selfies and turn one into your holiday card this year.
Plan D: Enjoy Down Time
21. Bake pumpkin muffins. Supply powdered and colored sugars to decorate the goodies. (Try to ignore the messy floor.)
22. Make pomander balls to kick off the gift-giving season. Make more next month.
23. Paint faces on acorns. Use markers or acrylic paint.
24. Set Indian corn on the table. Scoop out kernels using fingers or tweezers. Count kernels and sort by color. Divide them and decorate holiday cards.
25. Toss leftover Indian-corn kernels into a fire pit. Listen to the kernels pop.
26. Build a craft-stick or toothpick cabin. Glue the sticks together with white multipurpose glue.
27. Host a popcorn party. Munch on homemade popcorn, make popcorn balls, and create popcorn garlands.
28. Paint pinecones. Use acrylic paint and tiny brushes or cotton swabs. For sparkly fun, add glitter glue.
29. Make plant markers for your perennials. Label and decorate them. Use craft sticks and indelible ink.