Fall is the perfect time of year to get outside. And what better way to experience all the season has to offer than by taking a walk? Walking is fun and easy, plus it provides a boost to your physical and mental health. Going on a walk with your kids lets them notice new things and meet new people along the way.
Here are eight fall walks that you and your children can take around your neighborhood:
On this walk, have your child focus on their senses. Ask your child what colors they see. Touch the leaves that have fallen. Smell the air and ask if it smells different than in the summer. Listen to the birds or squirrels. Don’t forget to taste fall, too, by sampling apples or cider when you get home.
There are many printable scavenger hunts available online, or you can get creative and make your own. Have your kids look for distinctly autumnal items like fallen leaves, acorns or pumpkins. Once they find an item, have them check it off their list. Most kids love carrying the list on a clipboard, too. It’s very official!
Talk the walk
Use descriptive words to engage your child in talking about fall. Ask them why they like this season. Then tell them why you like it. For example, “I like fall because the colors of the leaves are red, orange and yellow.” I used to tell my kids that I liked fall because the weather is cooler and it feels good to wear sweaters.
Does fall bring the arrival or departure of different kinds of birds in your area? Talk about the birds you saw this summer and imagine where they live now. Notice which birds fly in V-shaped formations as they prepare to head south. Keep track of how many different birds you see on a walk in a field journal.
The object of an art walk is to collect as many items related to fall as you can, such as leaves, sticks and acorns. Then take them home and create! You can glue twigs and leaves together to make forest creatures or try your hand at making leaf prints. One of the easiest projects my children enjoyed when they were younger was sticking fallen leaves of all colors, shapes and sizes onto contact paper.
Just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean you have to stay inside when it gets dark. On your nighttime walk, see if you can find constellations like the Big Dipper. Watch for the blinking lights of planes as they cross the sky. Take flashlights or headlamps and look for critters in your neighborhood.
Sometimes all that is needed to make a walk more exciting is a friend. Have your child invite one or two buddies to traverse the neighborhood with you or pick a new location for your walk. Simply traveling through a novel area can be an exciting change of pace for most kids. Go for a walk around the block or take a friend on any of the eight walks here.
Gather leaves that have fallen from trees as well as those from plants. Ask how the leaves are different. Is one kind changing color but the other is not? Look for any black spots on leaves and talk about decay. Notice the evergreen trees in your area and discuss why they do not change color. For extra credit, bring home leaves and press them between sheets of newspaper weighed down by books for a few days. This will preserve their shape and color without the leaves curling and drying out.