Fall has arrived! It’s time to enjoy all those wonder-fall autumn changes happing outside. One thing I love about exploring fall with my toddler is that she approaches every autumnal change and experience with so much enthusiasm. Whether it’s jumping into a pile of leaves or visiting a pumpkin patch for the first time her joy is pure and contagious. Doing these fun fall outdoor activities with your toddler will make you fall in love with autumn all over again, and your toddler with have loads of fun along the way.
Fall Outdoor Activities for Toddlers
This list of fun fall outdoor activities for toddlers is geared towards young children between from 1 to 3 years of age. Some activities might be better suited for younger toddlers (1 to 2 years) and other to older toddlers (2 to 3 years). You know your toddler best so please use your judgement when going these fall activities with your toddler.
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APPLE AND PUMPKIN PLAY
Autumn is the best time of year for eating crispy apples and gathering orange pumpkins. Plus, there are plenty of fun fall toddler activities that you can do with a few apples and a pumpkin.
Visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch
Visiting an apple orchard or pumpkin patch is magical for toddlers, especially if they get to pick their own apples and pumpkin. Make this activity extra special by bringing along a picnic and a picture book about apples and pumpkins.
Apple or pumpkin bowling
Use a small round pumpkin or an old bruised apple and some reusable water bottles to set up fun game of apple/pumpkin bowling. This activity could easily set it up indoors.
Scoop out the insides of a pumpkin
The insides of pumpkins are ooey-gooey and filled with seeds. Cut off the top of a pumpkin and let your toddler scoop, squish and pull out the insides. This is a great sensory play activity! To keep the mess to a minimum put a rain suit on your toddler and do this activity outside.
Bob for apples (or small pumpkins)
Place a few apples or mini pumpkins in a shallow bin filled with water and let you toddler pick, plop and splatter away. If you want to make this activity more challenging for older toddlers have them try to scoop the apples/pumpkins out with a ladle or tongs. This is a fun activity for helping your toddler improve their coordination and motor control.
Fall leaves are colourful, crunchy and smell like autumn which makes them perfect for active sensory-filled play. The great things about fallen leaves is that they’re easy to find, compostable and free for the taking.
Rake leaves into piles and jump in!
Invest in a child-size rake and show your toddler how to rake leaves into piles. Toddler loves to imitate their parents and caregivers which is how they learn new skills. Once you’ve built up a nice pile of leaves show your toddler how to jump in. Around the age of two toddlers are learning how to jump with two feet so this is a great activity for developing motor development.
Go on a leaf hunt
With a basket or bucket in hand go on a leaf hunt with your toddler. Look for leaves of different shapes and colours and bring them home to make toddler friendly leaf crafts:
- Use crayons to make leaf rubbings
- Make leaf prints with paint
- Create leaf masks together
- Paint leaves to make leaf ghosts
Thread leaves on a string
Threading activities, passing a string or object through a hole, are great for developing coordination and fine motor skills in toddlers. For this threading activity punch a hole (or holes) through leaves with a hole puncher and, depending on the age of your toddler, provide string, twine, pipe cleaner, a shoe lace or a skinny stick to thread through the holes. You can also tie a stick to one end of a string to make a simple “needle” like this tutorial.
Throw and toss leaves into the air
Yes, encourage your toddler to throw leaves! Throw leaves up in the air. Throw leaves down on the ground. Throwing is another important gross motor skills that develops between the ages of one and four and should be encouraged as much as possible (when appropriate).
Cut leaves with scissors
Cutting leaves can be done outdoors (bring scissors outside) or indoors (bring leaves inside). Either way learning how to cut with scissors is great for helping toddlers develop fine motor skills. From about 18 months to 2 years, toddlers are able to hold scissors and by 2.5 years they can snip things like play dough, bits of paper, string or leaves. Around 3 to 3.5 years of age toddler can cut lines moving forwards with scissors. Mini loop scissors are easy for toddlers to use because they don’t have finger holes, but for older toddlers I’d recommend spring action scissors. For more information check out this article about mastering preschool cutting skills at home.
Draw or paint on leaves
Bring some crayons, markers or paint outside and draw on leaves. Write the alphabet on leaves for your toddler, draw faces on leaves and lean about emotions, or paint animals faces to make a leaf mask. Let you toddler use their own creativity – the sky is the limit! This simple activity is great for developing fine motor skills.
RAIN, PUDDLE AND MUD PLAY
Depending on where you live, autumn can be a wet season. While getting outside with your toddler on a wet rainy day can be challenging, mud, puddles and rain offers new opportunities for play and discovery that will help toddler’s learn and grow.
Jump in a puddle
Puddle play is great for toddlers. Puddles invite toddlers to practice movement skills (jumping, stomping, splashing, kicking) and will teach them about the world of nature (puddle science!). Get ready for puddle play by dressing your toddler in a rain suit and rain boots.
Play with bath toys in a puddle
Bring some bath toys outside and find a puddle for your toddler to play in. The novelty of using something familiar in a different way helps toddlers develop creativity and problem solving skills.
Create rain music
When it’s raining outside, bring out some metal bowls, pots and pans and flip them upside-down. Listen to the different sounds the rain makes. Now flip them right side up and see collect some rain water to play with.
Make a mud pie or cupcakes
Mud is sticky and slimy making it a great medium for creative play. Right now mud kitchens are all the rage but all your toddler needs to make a good mud pie, or mud cupcakes, is an old pie or muffin tin, mud and whatever else might be available outside (rocks, sticks, shells etc.). The best place to find old kitchen tools for outdoor play is your local thrift store.
Paint with mud
Give your toddler an old paint brush, rocks or pieces of woods, mud and let the painting begin. I like to encourage my toddler to paint on things that can be left outdoors (rocks, wood, fence).
Save the earthworms
When there’s a lot of rain, earthworms come out of the ground and wiggle on to sidewalks and driveways. Often earthworms get stomped on and lost and can’t find their way back to the ground. Look for earthworms with your toddler and gently move them out of harms way. Here’s a lovely picture book about Worm Weather.
FREE PLAY IN NATURE
Toddlers need plenty of time outside to explore, learn and play! These fall activities will allow your toddler to take in all the wonder-fall autumn changes in at their own pace.
Go on a toddler led nature walk
Stroll down a nature trail with your toddler. Don’t worry about how far you will get or if you walk in circles, simply allow your toddler the time to move and explore in nature. If going on a toddler led walk or hike is new to you I recommend reading: How to make hiking with your toddler easy and fun for everyone
Do a fall nature scavenger hunt
Print this fall scavenger hunt and see how many fall things and your toddler can find together.
Gather loose parts from nature
Loose Parts Play is an engaging and self-directed type of play that’s perfect for toddlers and autumn is full of loose parts that are perfect for toddlers to play with. Gather things like leaves, pine cones, sticks and rocks and place them in a basket for your toddler to play with outside or inside.