Ah, October. Finally, the temperatures have dipped to make outdoor activities slightly more bearable than they were a month ago. In addition to milder days spent at the zoo, the park, and the Riverwalk, October also means fun seasonal festivities like pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
While all these are fun, sometimes you (and your kids) need some activities that don’t require leaving the house or spending a ton of money. I find this especially true when your kiddos are little. Here are some fun two-year-old approved fall crafts and activities to add to your repertoire when they get tired of plain old coloring with crayons.
The best part of pumpkin painting? It’s not pumpkin carving! I know pumpkin carving is a fall staple in many households, but the idea of doing that with my “hates-to-get-messy” toddler wasn’t going to fly. Pumpkin painting was the perfect alternative! It kept her busy way longer than I expected and only required a few materials.
We bought the small, ornamental pumpkins from the grocery and acrylic paint (If you want your pumpkin to last, you can finish it off with an acrylic sealer). At this age, she didn’t need to paint anything in particular or have a pattern to follow (though the older kids might enjoy some direction), and painting a pumpkin was just different enough from painting on paper to seem new and exciting.
DIY Fall Playdoh
As a former teacher, I’ve made my fair share of homemade playdoh before, but this is my favorite recipe. So far, it has stayed pretty soft and hasn’t been a crumbly, dry mess. It also smells like fall!
This recipe calls for apple pie spice, but we subbed pumpkin pie spice, and it leaves your hands smelling yummy. You can also do other add-ins like essential oils and coloring if you like, but we just kept it simple. Please note, it does smell and look like cookie dough, so it may require some supervision. It can also be a two-for-one if your little one can handle helping you make it.
I remember this activity from preschool, so I had a bit of nostalgia while doing it with my daughter. A fun way to use up those apples that are getting a little mealy in your fridge. All you need is paint, paper, and some apples.
To make it easier for little hands, I cut a “handle” into the apple so she was able to get a better grip on it. For older kiddos, you can also use this opportunity to talk about seeds and how plants grow. We used acrylic paints because that’s what we had on hand, but be warned, acrylics do not come out of clothes.
Nature Walk (in the Yard)
When you need an excuse to get outside but don’t want to actually go very far, take your little one on a nature walk in your yard or down your street. We like to bring a paper bag to collect “treasures” along the way.
What’s great about this is activity is there’s literally no prep work. Let your child lead the way! This can also provide great learning opportunities. Being outdoors gives your child the chance to identify shapes, colors, and textures. We like to learn about bugs, rocks and plants on our walks.
“Bobbing” for Apples
Part sensory bin, part water table, part fine motor activity … bobbing for apples has been one of those ideas that makes me go “Why didn’t I think of that?” A unique activity that’s easy, mess-free (except for a little water splashing), and can entertain for a long time.
It can be done outside or inside depending on how brave you’re feeling that day. We put apples and small pumpkins (from our pumpkin painting day) in a tub full of water and let her go to town with some tongs. You can also use a slotted spoon if the tongs are too frustrating. This was definitely a favorite!