The fall season is such a beautiful time of year. The weather is cooler and the days are still long enough to get out after supper. When it comes to this time of year many families start looking for seasonally fun activities. Leaves and pumpkins and fresh apple cider. The fall has so many great outdoor (and indoor) sensory opportunities. And, this list is full of fun fall activities for your toddler.
The absolute best fall activity for toddlers:
Playing in the leaves!
Grab a few rakes, don’t forget one that your toddler can use as well… and start raking those leaves. While you clean up your yard, your 3 year old is benefiting from this is so many ways:
- She’s watching and mimicking you maintain a yard
- Full body strengthening by using the rake
- Enjoying the sound of the crunching leaves
- Taking in all those earthy, leafy smells
- And, then…. oh, the fun she’ll have to jump in the pile and throw the leaves!!!
When my kids were young they enjoyed playing in the leaves so much that they’d volunteer to rake up the leaves all by themselves. They would even take their rakes to the local park and rake the leaves there (because the leaves were better they’d tell me). But, still, pretty awesome!
Safety tip: You might want to eyeball the yard to make sure there aren’t many sharp twigs or sticks that could hurt the kids if they were to jump in the leaves.
Oh, and leaves aren’t just for jumping. They’re also for getting buried in and for throwing. Don’t forget to snap a few photos during all this fun!
Other fun fall outdoor toddler activities:
Visit the fall fair
Walk the aisles and talk about all the produce and baking you find. Ask to smell the dill and take a close look at the freshly made jams and honeys. Don’t forget to buy some fresh popcorn for snacking on!
If you’re lucky, your fall fair might even include a petting zoo, games, or even some rides.
Visit an orchard or pumpkin patch
I’m always in awe of the amazing family photos of clean, cute, smiling families cuddled among a pile of bright orange pumpkins. Whenever we’ve tried to do this, by the time we arrive at the photo op our littles have smeared their hands in dirt, eaten too many messy sweets, and have hay in their hair!
Either way, whatever your motive, orchards and pumpkin farms are still lots of fun for toddlers. And, that’s what’s so great about 2 and 3 year olds… they don’t usually need a lot of excitement or planning to be entertained. Just walking, watching, exploring, and touching will be more than enough for them.
I hadn’t heard this term before, but a good friend recently introduced it to me, and I like it… leaf peeping! Take your little out for a walk and just enjoy all the colors and shapes and smells.
If your toddler (or you) need a little more structure to this activity, try to find leaves of all colors of the rainbow, bring along a little pail to collect leaves in, or grab their binoculars to help them ‘see’ all the leaves even better.
Scavenger hunts are so easy to quickly put together. Just grab a piece of paper and write down 10 things your toddler will likely see when out on a walk. Read the list to them as you head outside and have them cross items off as you discover them in your neighborhood.
When you’re making your list consider colors, shapes, textures, and numbers.
Here are a few fall scavenger hunt printables if you’d rather just print one off instead.
Cleaning up the Garden
This might not seem like ‘a toddler activity’. But, it really can be! Get them involved. Cute little gardening gloves might help;) Your little can help you cut down or pull out the dead plants. They can pile everything up or put the material into the compost.
Have them go on a bug hunt while you’re working in the garden or have them turn the soil with a small shovel.
Nature tip: Don’t clean everything out of your garden. Make sure to leave some piles of debris for bugs to overwinter in.
Make a pail of ‘fall soup’
If your toddler is anything like mine were, they’d love making their own soup in the backyard. Give them 2 pails. One empty and one with some water. Encourage them to hunt for ‘ingredients’ for their soup. They’ll probably find lots of leaves and dead plant material, maybe some dirt, rocks, pinecones, and such. Maybe they’ll even find a stick to stir and mix their soup.
Cold weather tip: if it is already too cold for your little to have water (because they’re hands will be freezing and they’ll be complaining in like 2 minutes), then omit the water and call it stew!
Indoor Fall Activities for Toddlers
Just because you can’t get outside doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy some fall-themed activities with your toddler. Here are a few indoor nature activities and fall-themed sensory play ideas.
Now, I’ll admit that I’m not one who spends a lot of time preparing and organizing activities for my kids. Below you’ll find some sensory bin ideas and while they can seem time-intensive on your part, remember that you can make them, pull them out.. then, put them away and pull them out again in a few days. So, the effort that you’d put into making a seasonal bin could potentially last a good month or more.
Yes, definitely, this activity will require some time, planning, and a lot of clean up. But, it is a sensory extravaganza for toddlers! Just think of all the experiences- smelling that strong pumpkin, the gooey insides, the crunchy seeds, and the warm bath afterwards;)
Your toddler can help you draw a face or design, you can cut and get the insides loose. Then, your toddler can scoop and scoop and scoop. Give them a small measuring cup, some different sized spoons, maybe even a pair of tongs and a few different sized containers to plop all that pumpkin gooey goodness into.
Toddlers love to scoop and dig and sort and sensory bins are the perfect indoor play set-up for these activities.
How to put together a basic sensory bin:
- Grab a shallow storage bin or casserole dish
- Fill the bottom 2-4 inches with something to dig in like rice, paper shredding, beads, sand, etc
- Then, add fun goodies to find and play with in the container like shapes, natural treasures, and toys
- Lastly, give your toddler a few different items to dig and scoop with like small measuring cups, tweezers, funnels, whisks, and spoons. Your kitchen drawers and cupboards are probably full of great sensory bin accessories already.
Here are a few fall themed sensory bin ideas:
Autumn Sensory Discovery Bin by the Train Driver’s Wife. This bin uses spaghetti as the main filler. Find out how she prepares, puts together, and maintains this idea here.
Sensory Bin Clean up Tip: If you’re inviting your toddler to play with sensory bins inside, it’s a great idea to first throw down a large sheet / blanket / table cloth on the floor first. Place the bin in the middle of these sheet. If water is included, you might want to use a big bath towel instead as the bottom sheet. The sheet or towel will help contain some of the spill over and makes for an easier clean up.
And, don’t forget to include your toddler in the sweeping and tidying after the sensory bin play!
Playdoh spice play
Fall is about the smells, right? Well, you can easily include some whole spices with their playdoh time. Try adding some vanilla to their home made playdoh recipe and give them some whole spices to as accessories to their creativity.
This Fall Spice Railroad by Play Trains is a super fun idea. If your toddler is into playing with trains, you could even let them have a few of their train toys to run along their tracks when they’re done. This activity might be a little challenging for toddler. So, you’ll need to sit down and have a little playdoh fun with them for this activity!
Isn’t this a great idea? Find out all the details, tips, and how-to’s here.
Fall Reading and Learning with toddlers
When the wind blows and there’s a chill in the air, what’s a better activity than cuddling under some blankets to share a few good books?
Here’s a great list of our favorite fall books for kids. There are sure to be some that your toddlers will enjoy.
Remember that when you’re enjoying a book with your toddler that you might want to engage in conversations about the story as well as just reading the words.
Try asking things like:
- Are there things on this page that we saw outside today on our walk?
- What do you think is going to happen next?
- Oh, look at that (pumpkin, halloween costume, scarecrow), have you ever seen anything like that before?
- Would you have done that?
- How does this story make you feel?
- What colors do you like on this page?
If your toddler is patient and enjoys being read to you can explore more advanced books as well. Consider books which teach about the changing season, the starts, preserving food, and what animals do to prepare for winter.
A few last notes about autumn toddler activities
Games and toddler play doesn’t need to be overly involved. Make it as easy and spontaneous or as planned and organized as you like. Either way, make sure to take advantage of all the amazing fall textures, colors, and smells that the changing world offers!
I do hope you’ll find that some of the fall activities for toddlers above will help you and your littles make some memories this autumn! And, if there’s another activity that you and your family enjoy doing this time of year that is not mentioned above, please share in the comments below:)