As temperatures drop and days get shorter, autumn offers dads (and moms, for that matter!) a plethora of opportunities for fun fall family activities to do with the kids. In my nine years as a parent, my three daughters and I have identified some of these favorites. For materials and supplies, we use only what we can find in the house, in our garden, or in the open space preserve just beyond our fence.
Making Homemade Slime
If your kids are like my kids, sometimes you wonder if they love you as much as they love slime. Instead of buying ours at the store (or in supermarket vending machines), we like to make it at home-it's a fun activity and it makes the girls slightly less inclined to toss it after one use. The recipe is super-easy: 1 cup of water, 1 cup of cornstarch, and a creative dosing of food coloring to boot. In September, October, and November, we opt for fall colors such as red, orange, yellow, and gold.
Gourds are omnipresent in fall-at the local farmers' market, the local grocery store, and more. Instead of using ours exclusively for decoration, the girls and I turn some into racecars-and we hold speed trials down the driveway. The gourd-to-car transition is simple: We use rubber mallets to tap long wooden dowels (or metal rods) into the meaty parts of the vegetables, then we tap on yarn spools or roller skate wheels on the end. The girls usually decorate their gourds, too; the prettiest "car" also wins a prize.
Tailgating…In Your Yard
I'm a huge college football fan (Go, Northwestern, go!) but it's hard for me to get back to my alma mater for games in real life. Instead, the girls and I bring the tailgate to our front yard. On game mornings, I reposition our minivan in front of our driveway, wheel the grill around from the backyard, break out the cornhole, and stream the game live over Wi-Fi on my laptop. It's a great way for the girls to feel school spirit. It's also a fun excuse to party with the neighbors.
My girls are maniacs about art, and they love making stuff they can give away. In fall, one of their favorite activities is to feature simple leaf-rubbings on cards. Making these rubbings is easy. First, we do a walkabout to collect pretty leaves around the neighborhood. Next, we bring our stash home to dry. Finally, the girls place select leaves beneath a piece of paper and start rubbing with the side of a crayon. Sure, it takes some trials to get the positioning right, but the designs are beautiful for the front of a card…and grandparents and other family and friends love receiving these special creations, too!
Matt Villano is a family travel writer and journalist based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him or read some of his work, visit whalehead.com.