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Fun and Games on Trail: Getting Kids Outside in Fall

Posted by Krista Dooley at Oct 05, 2012 10:07 AM |

How do you keep kids active and engaged with the natural world during autumn? We put the same question to our Facebook community, and heard great ideas from educators, parents, and other people who hike with kids.

How do you keep kids active and engaged with the natural world during autumn?

We put the same question to our Facebook community, and heard great ideas from educators, parents, and other people who hike with kids. See what they had to say:

Fall hiking

  • I take my godchildren on shorter, low level hikes during fall and winter. —Chip M.

Check out WTA's fall hiking suggestions for families and browse our trip reports to see where other hikers have been hiking with kids lately.

Arts and crafts

  • Leaf texture drawings! Take the kids out for a walk and have them collect their favorite fallen leaves, and then place paper over the top of them at home, and rub over them with crayons. Makes beautiful artwork when you tape or glue the original leaf onto the front of the page with the drawing! —Chiara M.
  • We keep a nature journal where we take note of birds, animals, etc. that we see. Leaf collections, twigs, etc. go in there too and leaf rubbings. Drawings and photos go in there as well. —In the Bivvy


Use these tips to encourage observation and imagination through photography, art, drawing and writing.

Kid climbing at Trail of Two Forests
Lola climbs on rocks in September at Trail of Two Forests. Photo by Ryan Ojerio.

Games: hide and seek, scavenger hunts

  • I once saw a family hiking who were playing hide and seek with their kids on the trail. It sure kept the kids busy and laughing! —Danica L.
  • The best thing I've seen, which is used in lots of museums, is to give kids a list of things to look for and check off. For example, find a bird, an insect, leaves, rocks etc. Make it as simple or complicated as the kids' developmental level will allow. For sophisticated kids have them make a list of things for the adults to find. TAKE PAPER AND PENCILS! —John S.
  • M & Ms, for the next corner, obstacle, tree, etc. Make it fun, tag, betcha-can't games, etc. Always leave before they are ready to go home, b/c then they will want to come back! —Deborah M. A.
  • Geocaching! For kids, there is always a treasure box at the end of the trail! —Patrick Stead
  • Saw this on Nick (TV channel) and my kids loved it … we took an empty egg carton and colored each egg space with a different colored marker. Then we went outside and found things in nature that matched each color and put the items in the coordinating space. So many beautiful fall colors here in the NW! —Dana S.

Exploring nature (especially mushrooms)

Mushroom Boulder River Trail
One of many fungi along the Boulder River Trail. Photo by Chris.
  • I take my AP environmental science classes outside for labs, chalk drawing of concepts, etc. soon we will be going to a local watershed and taking water samples that we are tracking all year. —Briana F.
  • Keep their nose to the ground and have them discover the fascinating world of fungus! At least on the west side of Washington we have such an array of a truly magnificent world of fungus/mushrooms it is spellbinding! —Martha R.
  • Mushroom spotting and identification! —Michelle B.

Have other ideas? Share them on Facebook or in the comments below.

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