You all know those people who start dreaming about pumpkins and sweaters and halloween costumes in July? Not ashamed to admit I am one of them! I do try and keep it in check until at least September for those summer lovers out there:) As a blogger it works in my favor though! I can secretly dream of all things fall while compiling this post of fall toddler activities. Ready for you whenever you’re ready to embrace the *best* season!
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While there are many adorable fall crafts for little ones, this list of fall toddler activities is based on the open ended, exploratory type of play that we do most days at home. My criteria for activities is mostly based on them being fairly simple (under 5 min setup) and child led. Meaning I can sit back and drink my coffee (with a dash of cinnamon, because, fall;) while she explores. So if you’re ready to embrace the season, read on for a list of fall toddler activities full of the sights, smells and general deliciousness of autumn!
SUPPLIES: Tweezers / magnifying glass / specimen jars / white coat optional;)
I’ll ease all of you lovers of summer in with an activity that could technically fall into either season;) We ended summer with some fantastically large sunflowers. I highly recommend growing these with your little ones for so many reasons. Check out our post on the 10 Plants Anyone Can Grow With Toddlers for more ideas! Once the flowers start to droop, cut one down for a bit of scientific examination. I demonstrated a quick ‘how to’ on extracting the seeds and then let her explore.
SUPPLIES: Tempera Paint / Apples / Thick Paper
Who remembers doing this in preschool? Gotta love the classic fall toddler activities. It’s simple and you probably already have the materials! A few pro tips: holding a slippery apple can be hard for toddler fingers. Cutting a notch makes it easier to grab to avoid frustration (and mess;) Adding some green leaves from outside can extend the activity as the littles create a paint and natural materials collage. If you want to be extra about it, you could cook some apple cider on the stove while your toddler is playing;)
SUPPLIES: Assorted Spices / Paintbrushes / Thick Paper / Water / Paint tray or paper plate
This is a really great sensory experience for little ones! I had fun cleaning out some old spices from our cabinet. The ones I found to work best are: Turmeric, Cinnamon and Paprika. What this ‘paint’ lacks in consistency and color, it more than makes up for with the uniqueness of texture and smell. As an extension you can give them a stick of glue (or even contact paper!) and some larger grained spices (like oregano) and see what they come up with! If you’re little one is an ‘all in’ type of messy explorer, make sure to wipe them off right away though. Some spices like cinnamon can irritate sensitive skin if used excessively.
Fall Tree Stained Glass
Clear contact paper is one of our supply staples! For a complete list of what we stock our shelves with so that we’re always ready for play, check out our Toddler Supplies post. This fall toddler activity is so fun for littles because they love light play and peeling/sticking. Simply tape the contact paper to a kid height window. Trace out a rough sketch of a bare branch tree on brown construction paper and tear the tissue paper into small bits. I used to set activities up like this during nap. ( I miss nap-time!) Then once she awoke, I would use it as an invitation to play. She could work quietly on her own while she finished waking up (and I finished what I had been doing while she napped;)
Fall Sensory Bin
SUPPLIES: Rice or Chickpeas/ Food Coloring / Assorted Weird Fall Items From Around The House/ Scoops/ Seeds
Ok so the idea of sensory bins might scare some who can only imagine the inevitable cleanup, but there’s hope! Our recent post of Toddler Activity Supplies includes a link to a clear shower curtain. It’s perfect for laying down before play and collecting any stray sensory items. I also recently came across the idea of using dried chickpeas instead of rice, and they are so much easier to clean up! For those little ones still prone to putting things in mouth/noses/ears etc. I would stay away from those perfectly nose sized chickpeas haha! You can use your creativity to add to the bin anything fall related! Add in natural fall elements like acorns or add cinnamon sticks or some safe essential oil for a lovely fall smell. Wooden letters are also fun for practicing letter recognition. I always have our funnels and scoops, along with assorted jars (usually snagged from the recycling;) next to the bin with the other materials.
Dried Corn Picking, Grinding and Hauling
SUPPLIES: Dried corn cob, bowls, construction trucks, funnels, farm animals
We attended a kids day at one of our local historical farms and all the littles wanted to do was sit and pick pieces of corn off the cob, pour, and sort. I love fall toddler activities that use beautiful natural and seasonal materials! It was amazing to see how focused all of those little ones were. Sometimes it’s the simplest activities that allow them to get in a groove of play. If you are looking to extend the use of your materials this would be the cutest little farm play scenario! Add in some construction trucks and farm animals, done! We love these Toob sets of farm animals, they come in all different sets and we add them to so many different play scenarios. For city kids like mine it’s nice to use the farm play to talk about harvest season and where food comes from as well!
SUPPLIES: Pumpkins! Golf tees, nails, hammer, string, rubber bands, paint, stickers
Why is there something so satisfying about these big round symbols of fall? This is a great one for after your pumpkins have served their purpose, since you’ll most likely want to put them in the compost once you’re done with this activity. Littles will love hammering (we use a lightweight plastic mallet) golf tees or nails into the pumpkin. After they’re done you can also create a square pattern with the tees, add some rubberbands and use it as a seasonal geo-board. You can also paint them of course, my toddlers favorite was drip painting, a messy but fun ‘sharp object free’ way to decorate your fall pumpkins. You could also try this cool tutorial and swap letter stickers for vinyl if you’re ‘uncrafty’ like me!
SUPPLIES: Leaves, real or silk will work, paper, crayons with paper removed or oil pastels
Such a simple activity! Sadly here in the Bay Area we don’t get much of a fall, probably why I overcompensate on my fall toddler activities haha! I have to search out places with lots of color and we plan a hike or walk to collect leaves then bring them home.You can also use the hike to collect acorns etc for your rice sensory bin. Two fall toddler activities in one! Simply place the leaves under the paper (I often hold or tape the toddlers paper down over the leaves to prevent slipping.) Then rub the crayons gently over the leaves! It can take a toddler awhile to get the hang of the correct amount of crayon pressure, so this is a fun one to do with them and create your own while demonstrating. We talk about leaves changing and the colors we see in fall, and then choose a selection of crayons based off of that. I’ve found that limiting color choices can be a teaching moment in itself as they see how the colors mix (otherwise all of our projects turn out brown;)
Baking (and cooking!) as fall toddler activities:
SUPPLIES: Vary. Keep these on hand, you can do a lot with them: canned pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, oats
So have I mentioned I’m actually a pretty terrible baker? I have a hard time following directions, like it’s a serious problem:) But, I do absolutely love baking with my kid! She loves the mixing and I love the smells and happy music in the kitchen while we bake. There are so many delicious pumpkin and apple recipes for the season, baking is definitely at the top of my favorite fall toddler activities! So here are a few fairly simple recipes that are a hit in our house when the weather turns cool:
- Baked Apples A la mode: This is your transition dessert from summer to fall, for when you’re not quite ready to stop consuming that most delicious part of summer, ice cream:) You most likely have most of the ingredients, they take so little time to prep, and there is an apple in there, so…. healthy? Also, you can totally do this in the microwave in a bowl, if you are like me and are not adult enough to own a ramekin…(Scroll down a bit after clicking the link to get to the recipe.)
- Pumpkin Energy Bites: I realize this is a ‘no-bake’ recipe, but it has pumpkin, so I’m going to leave it here:) These are sooo good, and it doubles as an activity and a way to fill your littles constant snacking needs! You can play around with the recipe. Nut-free preschool? Use Sunbutter and sub pepitas for the nuts.
- Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins: Love fall toddler activities that double as a way to get things done! We make a batch of these simple and surprisingly healthy muffins and then have them ready for mornings when we’re running late or for afternoon snacks.
- Apple Oatmeal Muffins: Yet another delicious yet portable snack that will make you feel like you are winning the parent game.
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese: I know those of you with picky eaters are totally rolling your eyes at me right now haha! If you do have a little one and you are working on sneaking in a few veggies then I totally recommend this recipe though. It’s got noodles and cheese, so the odds are good, and if not, well, at least you have a delicious comfort food dinner while your little eats pbj. Skip the Gruyere if your little is picky and choose a milder flavor cheese.
- Sweet Potato Rounds: This is a go to in our house year round, not just a fall toddler activity! The little likes to peel, slice, oil and salt them. If you follow us on Facebook I’m sure you’ve seen her chubby little rubber band wrist hands busy prepping a sheet of potatoes:) Just peel, thinly slice, toss in olive oil and salt or garlic salt. Bake at 450F for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Some of our favorite toddler kitchen tools are below, the crinkle cutter is perfect for sweet potato rounds!
SUPPLIES: Our Simple Playdough Recipe, Pumpkin Spice, Apple Spice, or Cinnamon Spice, Food Coloring
Those of you who follow the blog know that no post is complete without mention of our favorite activity, Play-dough! It’s so versatile and perfect for cozy fall days. My little often plays with play-dough while I am working in the kitchen. Simply add some Autumn inspired scents and colors to our favorite, simple play-dough recipe! One batch makes enough to separate in to several different colors. So you can make a lovely ‘apple pie’ inspired batch with an un-dyed ‘dough’ and red or green for the filling.
Or make a pumpkin decorating play-dough station with black pipe-cleaners and some orange and green dough. Toss in some pumpkin pie spices for the perfect cozy fall toddler activity. Or, keep it simple and natural with un-dyed dough and your favorite fall spices like clove, cinnamon, or nutmeg! Toss in a few cinnamon sticks, acorns or other fall materials for added fun.
That’s enough fall toddler activities, now for fall adventure ideas!
Hopefully you have some inspiration for passing some cozy fall days at home with this list of fall toddlers activities. If you’re looking for some ‘out and about’ ideas though, here are our favorite fall entertainment activities outdoors!
- These Leaf Lanterns from Red Ted Art are a perfect pairing for collecting leaves on a nature walk at your favorite park! Then take them out after dark on the equinox (Saturday, September 22nd 2018) for an exciting stroll around the neighborhood to welcome the season!
- Apple Picking is a no brainer of course. If you end up with some bruised ones then you’re all set for the apple printing activity:)
- Berry Picking is a great late summer activity for those of you not yet ready to say goodbye to warm weather!
- Visit a farm if you live in the city you might have to work a little harder, but we’ve found some great working historic farms with toddler activities near us. Such a fun way to get in to the harvest season and teach your little about where our food comes from!
Now go have fun with your own fall toddler activities!
What are your favorite fall family activities? Do you have any family traditions you’ve carried on with your little ones? I’d love to hear in the comments! As always, if you’ve enjoyed trying some of these activities and want more ideas for simple, low tech ways to play with your littles follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up for our email list to be the first to hear about new ideas!