Friday, November 4, 2011

Enjoy Fall Activities With the Kids and Teach Life Skills

Enjoy Autumn Colors and Activities With Kids ©Katrena
Autumn provides a wealth of outdoor opportunities for families to get outside and enjoy quality time together, and these activities can combine necessary upkeep with ways to connect with the kids.

Fun and Educational Fall Family Activities

Many people associate autumn with a splash of color as the deciduous trees have the opportunity to show off before settling down for the winter. Some people only see this as more work with raking the leaves and such. In fact, one day as I was walking through the community, I noticed a man standing on his roof blowing the leaves off his tree! Although raking or blowing might be a good bit of work, the kids often look forward to the opportunity to jump right in and help...or at least jump in the piles of leaves.

Encourage Active Educational Outside Play in Autumn ©Katrena
Enjoying the beautiful leaves can be as simple as taking a walk in an area where trees line the walkways. This can be an excellent opportunity to learn more about tree identification. The Arbor Day Foundation has a nicely organized free tree identification guide to help those of us who are a bit tree name challenged. This can give the adult a nice opportunity to show the kids ways to research topics and learn practical information. I remember making a book with various leaves and researching them for a 4-H project.

Teach Kids About Fall Leaves and Flowers ©Katrena
Fall is a busy time of year for those of us who have flower gardens. Many of the autumn flowers are quite beautiful, and the kids may have a great time learning about planting bulbs or helping to get starts from some gardening friends. The kids may be able to help with preparing flower beds for colder weather. I have loads of flowers and many of them have come from family and friends. Giving the history of these plants is a big part of what makes my garden special to me. The Cooperative Extension Service offers a wealth of information about native plants for those who wish to learn more.

Kids Can Help and Learn to Winterize House

In addition to winterizing the yard, homeowners often need to prepare the house for cold weather. Fall cleaning is often a dreaded chore, but doing it together as a family may make the project seem a bit less daunting. Turn on some music to keep the moods lifted. Offering an incentive for a job well done and giving positive reinforcement might help the work move much faster with happier faces as well. My kids especially like to do fun family games like hide-and-go-seek in the dark or travel to places like a children's museum or check out a new playground as a reward rather than buying more toys.

Preparing the house for winter can also provide excellent opportunities to teach about safety, such as changing the batteries in the smoke detectors and reviewing the family fire escape plan. Kids can also learn valuable practical tips such as how to prevent frozen pipes and how to clean the stove. Teach about how to save money through simple maintenance such as changing the flapper in the toilet. This is a great opportunity to show the kids where water shut-off valves are located and how to change fuses or trip circuit breakers.

Teach Kids While Doing Fall Cleaning Projects ©Katrena
Clear the Clutter & Give Back in the Fall

Many of us tend to accumulate items throughout the year. Toys, books, clothes, or furniture items may get much more use and might help someone in need through donations to places like Goodwill. Ensuring that these items are clean and in good repair can teach a valuable lesson. Many long-term care facilities, or nursing homes, and assisted living facilities may not allow kids into the facility during the flu season, so this can be a good time to visit in person.

Families who wish to send items overseas for Christmas, such as through Samaritan's Purse or to the troops may need to begin planning in the fall. Sending thoughtful notes in the fall can be a welcome surprise to a family member or friend who does not live nearby, and kids can learn about how to address an envelope, practice writing and drawing skills, and perhaps even find a pen pal.

Teach Kids Generosity While Cleaning House ©Katrena

Make Fall Chores More Fun

Although autumn is often a bustle of activity, spending time together as a family may create a wealth of memories for everyone to enjoy during those colder winter months. This can also be a great time to search for opportunities to help around the neighborhood, perhaps by helping others in need or services or just a friend.

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