Fall-related outdoor activities for babies and toddlers
Having fun outside with little ones during fall is as simple as getting them dressed and out the door to play with leave
Leaves are beautiful, colourful, and lightweight...three characteristics that make them ideal to explore with young children.
Simple leaf piles
Rake up a small pile of leaves and let children walk or crawl through it, toss the leaves up into the air, and hide among the leaves. Let toddlers use small kid-sized plastic rakes to help you rake the leaves.
Leaves and hole-punches
Bring large hole-punches you would normally use to cut fun shapes out of paper outside. With your group, have fun finding large, colourful leaves that have not yet dried out. Use your hole-punches to cut shapes out of the leaves. Set the shapes in the palms of your hands (or on your mittens) and encourage babies and toddlers to observe them.
Autumn leaves and your parachute
Set a large blanket or your parachute on the ground. Encourage toddlers to collect leaves and set them on the blanket or parachute. Let children sit directly on the blanket or parachute to explore the leaves. If another early childhood educator is available, have fun bouncing the leaves up and down.
Kiddie pool with leaves
Set your kiddie pool in your yard and encourage children to fill it with leaves. When it is full, let children sit in the kiddie pool to play with the leaves.
This activity is great for introducing toddlers to colors. Visit your local hardware store and collect several paint sample cards containing various shades of yellow, orange, red, green, and brown. Laminate the paint samples and take them with you when you go outside to play with your group. When toddlers find a leaf, name its color and show them the paint sample card that contains the same color.
Stick a large piece of adhesive paper on a poster board, with the sticky side facing you. Take this board outside and invite children to press leaves on the adhesive paper.
Autumn leaves at snack time
Select a dry food item that is easy to serve and eat outside such as cookies. Prepare a large pile of leaves in your yard and sit in it with the babies and toddlers in your group to eat your snack.
Surprise pile of leaves
Hide a variety of objects such as books or small toys in a pile of leaves. Let babies and toddlers play in the leaves to discover the items. Let them manipulate the items freely.
Lots of leaf piles
Repeat the previous activity, but this time, create several tiny piles of leaves throughout your yard to encourage children to move around. You could, for example, hide a specific type of object in each pile of leaves (books, rattles, animal figurines, etc.).
Tiny musical leaf pile
Once again, prepare a pile of leaves. Hide an alarm clock that you have programmed to ring in a few minutes among the leaves. Let children play in the yard and encourage them to find the source of the sound they hear when the alarm rings. Variation: With older children who have acquired object permanence, have fun creating several tiny leaf piles throughout your yard. When the alarm rings, let them find which one the alarm clock is hiding in.
Pillowcases and leaves
Purchase several small pillowcases. Show babies and toddlers how they can fill them with leaves, lie down in the grass, and set their head on a leaf-filled pillowcase. They will enjoy filling and emptying the pillowcases repeatedly.
This activity is great for older toddlers. You will need a sweater and pants. Have fun filling them with leaves. Use string to close off the extremities (sleeves and legs) so the leaves don't fall out. If you wish, insert a stuffed animal in the sweater, letting its head stick out. Set the pants on a chair and deposit the sweater on top to complete your leaf mascot.
Leaf-filled baskets or boxes
You will need several cardboard boxes (banana boxes) or plastic laundry baskets. Have fun filling them with leaves with your group. Let children sit in the boxes or baskets.
Early childhood educator