Autumn is a wonderful time to get outside and spend time together in your neighborhood. Studies show that spending time together helps release stress and in turn, will help your family grow closer. Whether your home is in Chevy Chase or NW D.C., these ideas are sure to put smiles on the faces of the even the most grumpy of quality-time team players.
Make Leaf Rubbings Together
All you need for this activity is a thin sheet of regular or tissue paper and either crayons or oil pastels. First, take a walk outside and gather a variety of leaves. Look for ones with different shapes and sizes. When all the leaves are gathered, head inside and find a flat, craft-friendly surface. Place the leaf down, then the paper on top and finally rub the crayon gently over the paper to outline the leaf. Try using different colors to give the artwork an extra flair
Make a Scarecrow to Get in the Spirit
Help get the family into the fall spirit with a popsicle stick scarecrow. This project requires a square piece of cardboard, ideally 4×4 inches, popsicle sticks, glue, orange paint, a black marker, and colorful paper for the hair or eyes.
Start by gluing the popsicle sticks on the cardboard. You can either glue them in a straight line or round the bottom so it looks like a pumpkin. Paint the front orange and wait until everything dries. Next, cut out pieces of yellow paper to make the hair and glue them to the top. You can either glue a brown piece of paper on top to make the hat or paint the hat on during step 2. Use the black marker to draw a face and a nose and use other pieces of paper for the eyes or any other accessory the kids want to add.
Bake Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies
This tasty treat is easy to make and perfect for the fall season. This recipe makes about 12 cookies and calls for one cup of canned pumpkin, white sugar, vegetable oil, an egg, flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt, baking soda, milk, vanilla extract and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Start by mixing the dry ingredients: 2 cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Use 1 teaspoon of milk to dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda and add it to the dry mixture. In a separate bowl mix: 1 egg, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1 cup of sugar, ½ vegetable oil. Next, combine the dry mixture with the pumpkin mixture. Finish by adding 2 cups of the chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of the vanilla extract.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased pan, and bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until they’re slightly brown.
Carve a Pumpkin
This classic activity is a must-do in the fall. The fun starts with finding the perfect pumpkin. Head to the nearest pumpkin patch, and look for a gourd that is firm but still soft enough for a knife to carve through. The base should be pretty flat so that the pumpkin doesn’t roll away when you’re done carving.
One the pumpkin is selected, plan the perfect design. You can go simple with a smiling face, or try other designs online. Before carving the pumpkin, clear out a space with a flat surface and consider putting down several newspapers for protection. Start by cutting around the stem with a serrated knife so you can remove the top. Next, and arguably the most fun part for kids, is scooping out all the seeds and stringy fibers inside.
Use a marker to plan the outline, or simply use tape to keep a printed outline in place while you carve the pumpkin. Be sure to use a sawing motion, and handle knives carefully around small children. When the design is finished, put a flashlight or battery-powered candle inside and watch the design come to life at night.