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Once school is in full swing, it’s easy to get caught into the day-to-day of schedules, extracurriculars, and commitments. While these schedules and commitments are important for helping develop responsibility while providing a comfortable, predictable, and safe environment of your child, it’s important not to get caught up in so much of the daily bustle that you forget to play with your child.

Family activities together are not only a source of fun and pleasure; they’re also an important development tool for children of all ages. Similar to research on the importance of family meals together, regular family activities can help:

  • increase connection and sense of belonging
  • encourage confidence
  • increase academic performance
  • lower risk of depression or substance abuse
  • improve communication skills and verbal development
  • encourage creativity
  • grow confidence in trying new activities
  • feelings of safety and security

This fall, we recommend sitting down as a family and writing a “Fall Activity Idea List” to hang on the refrigerator. Do your best to do 1-2 activities per week together. Let your children participate in making the list to increase buy-in for the challenge, and let your children take turns choosing an activity on the list. Even non-readers can have the opportunity to point and ask what a certain activity is, or if they don’t yet have the comprehension skills to choose an activity–like an infant–it can still be fun for the family to let the baby’s hand fall on the paper and choose whichever activity the child’s finger touches first.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Pick apples at an orchard
  2. Bake a pumpkin treat
  3. Go to a pumpkin patch
  4. Carve jack-o-lanterns
  5. Make-your-own mini pie
  6. Jump in a leaf pile
  7. Go on a hay ride
  8. Do apple-stamping art
  9. Make a leaf collage
  10. Make bird feeders
  11. Go on a fall hike
  12. Drive to see fall leaves
  13. Read Halloween stories
  14. Make homemade apple cider
  15. Picnic at the park
  16. Go to a corn maze
  17. Visit a farm
  18. Make treats for a neighbor
  19. Paint mini pumpkins
  20. Go for a bike ride
  21. See a drive-in movie
  22. Make-your-own-pizza night
  23. Board game (+ hot chocolate) night
  24. Invent a board game or card game together
  25. Play hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, or sardines
  26. Make homemade cards for relatives
  27. Scrapbook together
  28. Make fall leaf garlands
  29. Do a science kit together
  30. Go on a family scavenger hunt
  31. Do an informal photo shoot together–take turns being the photographer and the models
  32. Go to a roller-skating rink
  33. Make a family scarecrow
  34. Paint a mural together
  35. Do a volunteer project together

What are some of your favorite family fall activities?

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