I’ve always felt that the biggest challenge when trying to cultivate the trail family lifestyle is having little kids. By littles, I mean Kindergarten and younger. Our littles have unique needs. Kids who still nap in the afternoon make it difficult to get in an after school trail walk. They usually get tired quicker and have shorter attention spans. These needs present unique challenges to moms who are working on building an outdoor lifestyle for their families.
As a former preschool teacher, I have a particular soft spot in my heart for this age group. Although they are challenging, they are also really awesome. Littles bring so much joy and laughter to our lives. There is a reason that we miss this stage once it is passed. Sure, we don’t miss the tantrums and endless bathroom breaks. But we miss the sweet snuggles and the zest for life that humans only have when everything is new to them.
I’ve decided to combine two of my favorite things for this post. I love fall, and I love doing fun activities with littles. Here is a list of enticing fall activities for your youngest family members and why they are beneficial.
The ripening of the apple crop in late September is an event I anticipate with bated breath. We have had some stinker years in the past, but this year was amazing! We have our own trees that produced several bushels this year.
If you don’t have trees in your yard, there are many farms and orchards that offer self picking. Lots even include fun perks like hayride and snacks. Plan a day to get your family out in the fresh air doing some hard work.
Once you’ve got your apple crop gathered, there are more things to do than just eat them. I admit that we have the homeschool advantage in this instance. Cal is doing Kindergarten this year, so we incorporated some apple activities into his school time. I even purchased an Apple Unit Study that you can find here.
Some of the activities we did included cutting the apples open to see what they were like inside. We learned what each part was called and labled a picture. Then we cut a few apples and used them to paint. I used tempera paint so that clean-up was easy.
All our kids enjoyed helping to make delicious homemade apple goodies. We made applesauce, apple butter, apple pie, apple cider, and apple crisp. They all appreciate these things much more than if we had purchased them at the store. They experience the great satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of their labors.
I talked about a leaf peeping drive that we took as a family a few weeks ago. We all enjoyed the time together. However, little kids are more tactile and benefit from hands-on experiences more than just looking. Here are a few ways to extend your leaf peeping activities and bring them home too.
Go on a trail walk to see the leaves. You won’t cover as much ground as driving, but for small children, being able to touch and smell during the experience is most beneficial. They can pick up leaves, observe them closely, and collect them. If there is anything a preschooler or Kindergartener loves, it’s collecting things!
Two home extension activities you can do are to make some art with your leaf collection and to sort and count. Art can be crayon rubbings, painting with the leaves, or making a collage. Sort leaves by color or tree type. Extend the activity further by looking up some facts about the types of trees your leaves fell from. Visit your library for some picture books about fall leaves.
Bringing It Home
Bringing home and extending these two fall activities has excellent benefits for your little children. First, it helps to motivate them to spend more time outside. They also begin to realize that the fun won’t stop once they come back indoors. The world is a big place and there is not a hard division between indoor and outdoor activities. Combine them for extended family fun!
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