It’s no wonder we give thanks in the fall; this season offers a bounty of fun things to do. From picking pumpkins to taking a hayride, there are many ways to celebrate nature and build great family memories at the same time. Check out these autumn-only activities.

Animal watch

Test your scientific skills and your powers of observation with a nature walk around the neighborhood. Explain to young children that this is the time animals prepare for the cold winter months. Using a notebook and pencil, record all the animals you see and describe what they are doing (e.g., birds: flying south in “V” formation). When you are home, go on the Internet with your kids to do further research. Talk about animal behavior in winter, and compare that to human behavior. For example, some animals grow thicker fur to keep warm during winter. Humans wear warm layers of clothes to keep warm. Discover the similarities between animals and humans together.

Pick your own

Visit your local farm for apple or pumpkin picking. Many farms that offer apple or pumpkin picking also provide hayrides, a lesson in farming and even fresh treats like homemade apple pie and cider. Call to inquire about special events.

Build-a-crow workshop


You see them everywhere in fall. But have you ever tried to build one? It’s easier than you think. Just gather old jeans, a tattered long-sleeved shirt, socks, gardening gloves, a straw hat, a pillowcase for the head, string or rope, and your choice of stuffing (crumpled newspaper works well). Take the family outside and get started:

- Tie the ends of the pants and stuff the pants.

- Tie the ends of the sleeves and stuff the shirt.

- Stuff the socks and tie them to the ends of the pants; stuff the gloves and tie them to the sleeves of the shirt. Tuck the shirt into the pants.

- Use a marker to draw a face on the pillowcase. Stuff the pillowcase and fasten it to the body with safety pins.

- Top off your scarecrow with the straw hat.

- Sit your scarecrow against a tree in the yard or against the house.

Family tree

Take a walk through your backyard or nearby park and look for leaves that remind you of family members. (For example, a red leaf might remind you of Grandma because she always wears her favorite red sweater for the holidays). Gather enough leaves to represent your whole family. Leaves need to be dry and flat before making your tree. Put them between two sheets of newspaper and cover with heavy books overnight. The next day, place the leaves between two sheets of wax paper. Carefully press the wax paper with a medium-hot iron. (This is a grown-up job, so keep little kids away.) After they’ve cooled, cut out the leaves. Draw a tree trunk and branches on a piece of cardboard. Glue the leaves to the branches and write each family member's name near his or her leaf.