Fall is here! Haunted houses, ghost walks, hayrides, pumpkin carving… you name it and fall calls for it. The temperature is just right outside, which makes it the perfect time for outdoor activities and family bonding. During this time of year, a child’s imagination should be running freely. There are plenty of ways to give your son or daughter a chance to utilize their cognitive skills outside the classroom. This can be fun for you, too! You will see how independently a child’s mind functions while being amazed at how smart and determined your young one can be.
Pumpkin Picking, Pumpkin Carving, & Pumpkin Painting
If you live in a rural area, there is most likely a farm or open area of some sort offering fall hayrides and pumpkin picking. It’s convenient to head to the local grocery store and pick a pumpkin out of a box, but much less enjoyable for your family. The kids will have a great time riding in a tractor-pulled hay stack! Choosing this option rather than the grocery store allows your child to choose their perfect pumpkin right from the field, gives them a breath of fresh air, and creates lasting memories for your family.
Pumpkin carving is a fall tradition, however, this is a task that requires a great deal of adult supervision. Holding your child’s hand limits their creativity and prevents them from making the pumpkin truly their own. You may not realize it, but you could be moving their hand in a direction he or she wasn’t intending on. It may be fun for you to be carving with them, but takes away a bit of independence they would have otherwise.
Rather than carving, painting pumpkins allows a child to hold a paint brush and become an artist. To prevent a mess, be sure to place a trash bag under the pumpkin in case of any spills or excess paint drips. Give your child a number of different colors to choose from and allow them to paint while offering positive encouragement. To make this an activity the whole family can enjoy, buy a pumpkin for each family member, adults too! You can sit around the kitchen table sharing paints and making your own masterpieces. This is a wonderful time to teach your children the importance of doing things together as a family.
Family Favorite Holiday Recipes
This time of year, home-cooked meals become all the more meaningful. Take this time to ask your family what types of foods they would like to make together. Fall favorites such as candy apples, caramel corn, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and stuffing are all fairly simple to make and taste delicious! Recipes can easily be found online and used as desired.
Candy apples are an easy way to bring the family together. Ask your children what their favorite candy is and bring it home along with a bag of chocolate and your family’s favorite kind of apples (bonus points if you take the family apple picking instead!) To give your children their own responsibility, assign each child a task. For instance, one child could be in charge of washing the apples, another in charge of taking out the supplies, another in charge of melting the chocolate, and the adult in charge of cutting the apples, and another in charge of lining the apples on wax or parchment paper. Once your apples are washed and sliced (be sure to leave the skin on), it’s time to melt the chocolate. This can be done in the microwave using ten second increments and stirring in between until the spoon runs smoothly through the chocolate. You can also melt the chocolate over the stove top, stirring continuously so the chocolate doesn’t burn. When the chocolate is smoothly melted and the apple slices are lined on the wax or parchment paper, it’s time to drizzle the chocolate over each apple. You can use as much or as little as you would like! Now is the best part; give your child their favorite candy and tell them to drizzle it over the chocolate so it sticks to the apple. When this is finished, you will place the apples into the fridge to harden. Once they appear to be sticking firmly together, it’s time to enjoy!
What could be better than dressing up and asking for candy! Children grow up aspiring to be their favorite character, and many decide to act as him or her on Halloween. Rather than suggesting a few characters, or providing a few costume options from the store to your children, ask them directly what or who they would like to dress up as for Halloween. They may surprise you with their answers! Sometimes, it’s actually cheaper to make your child’s costume at home rather than purchasing one at a Halloween store. If you have a crafty hand and a sewing machine, you may be able to do this on your own with some fabric and costume embellishments. To take it another step further, have the family coordinate and dress up together! Kids love seeing their parents embracing the holidays too, and they’ll be sure to get a kick out of you asking the neighbors for candy!
Halloween is a long standing tradition, however, we must beware of the dangers it may bring. Before you begin trick or treating, remind your children that they must not talk to strangers without a parent present. Children can easily be swept away in the excitement of Halloween and can forget the rules you have put in place for them. This is the most appropriate opportunity to teach children that no matter what a stranger may offer you, never to accept it and always tell a parent or local police officer.
As the season continues on, remember the leaves fall quickly and winter time is fast upon us. Your little ones will only continue to grow! While they are young, squeeze in as many family activities as possible. This fall, challenge yourself to complete each of the suggested activities above. You and your family will look back on the memories, and look forward to the next time the leaves fall.