The days might be shorter and colder, but that shouldn’t stop you getting outside as a family. Here are 10 simple autumn outdoor activities for toddlers.
1. Build a den
We spent some time in our local Country Park last weekend searching for fallen sticks, branches and logs, then building a huge tipi-style den in the woods. We got dirty, wet and a bit cold, but we didn’t care. Extra points if you build one big enough that your whole family can get inside!
2. Jump in some puddles
We do this a lot! Invest in a decent puddle suit and some wellies, which make your kid bombproof when it comes to water. Then find the biggest, dirtiest puddles near your house and spend an hour running through them and jumping into them. It never gets boring!
3. Cook on a campfire
The best tip for this is to cook your food in the house before you light the fire, so all you’re really doing on the campfire is crisping sausages, burgers etc on the flames of your fire. Then get a long, thin stick and sharpen the end, and you’ve created yourself the perfect campfire cooking utensil!
4. Make creatures from conkers
It’s a bit late in the season for this now, but conker collecting is the ultimate autumn activity for young kids and toddlers. So find a local horse chestnut tree, bag up hundreds of conkers, then stick some goggly eyes on them to make faces and use pipe cleaners for legs. Failing that, just have a conker fight!
5. Explore with a torch
My son has been obsessed with torches since he figured out how to turn one on at 18 months old. With the clocks going back and the evenings turning pitch black, a torchlit bug hunt around your garden or down your local street is a wonderful way to get outside on autumn and winter nights.
6. Go pond dipping
It isn’t just spring and summer where you can find fascinating wildlife in your local ponds, lakes and rivers. So grab a net and a tray to empty to empty your findings into, then go for it. You could find dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, water beetles, water scorpions, water boatmen, leeches, mayfly nymphs, and even overwintering tadpoles.
7. Fill your bird feeders
With the abundant wild food of spring and summer starting to disappear, birds start flocking back to our garden tables and feeders in autumn. So stock up on seeds, peanuts and fat balls – or maybe even make your own bird cake – then stock your feeders, watch the birds descend, and see how many species you can find.
8. Get on your bikes
Whether you buy a balance bike for your toddler or fix a child seat to your own bike, cycling down woodland trails, through country parks and down your local cycle routes is a great way to burn off some of that excess energy in the autumn. It’s still just about warm enough for your fingers not to freeze, with colourful leaf explosions in the trees as a backdrop.
9. Kick some leaves
Just as easy as it sounds! Find some big piles of leaves – the drier, crunchier and more colourful the better – and boot them down the street or around your garden. Pile them up and jump into them, hide in them, throw them at each other – it’s a great way to fill an hour on an autumn afternoon.
10. Climb some trees
Trees shedding their leaves makes them even easier to climb. So head down to your local woods, pick out a big gnarly tree with loads of knots and chunky branches, then get yourself as high as you can. Remember though, climbing down is harder than climbing up, so only go high if you know you can get back to the ground safely!