Five Fabulous Fall Activities for Family Fun

November 10, 2010

kids

Photo by nick see. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Just because the weather is turning more frightful than delightful doesn’t mean you can’t still get outdoors and enjoy our amazing natural surroundings this fall.

The thing that attracted our family to Corner Brook in the first place was the natural setting. Yes,  the cutting down of the Majestic Lawn trees is just another example of how our city is becoming less “green.” But, you don’t have to go far afoot to find yourself in a forest, on top of a mountain, or at a seashore. Our city is surrounded by diverse natural settings. And the possibilities for recreation, even inside the city, abound.

The first rule for outdoor fun in the Fall is the same as it is for any season: be prepared. Water is essential, even if the days aren’t as hot. Sunscreen should still be used, especially on bright days. Clothing should be layered with an outer wind/waterproof layer either worn or instantly accessible.  Just as in the summer, I like to keep a couple of towels in the car. Not, as in the summer, to dry us off after a spontaneous swim, but to dry us off after puddle-jumping, sudden showers, or slips on muddy ground. You should also have gloves and hats available, as the weather can quickly turn cold.

Once you’ve got all that prep, though, what to do next? Following are some great, fun, outdoor activities suitable for all ages:

1. Go Fly a Kite

You might associate kite-flying with lazy summer afternoons, but there’s no reason not to fly a  kite in the fall, too! In fact, in many ways it’s even more fun. The winds lend themselves well to this activity and you won’t need to squint up into the sun as much or risk losing your kite from a sweaty hand. Great places in Corner Brook to fly a kite include the Atlantic Ave soccer pitch, Jubilee Field, and the Ambrose O’Reilly Soccer pitch. Bonus? These fields are not used as heavily in the fall and are pretty flat and tree/wire free.

2. Take to the Trails

Not too hot, not as wet as Spring (though this week I’d question that),Fall weather offers great opportunities for hiking. And the changing flora adds more excitement. Take to one of the city’s many trails or those nearby and explore the changing season with your family. You can incorporate a scavenger hunt: look for red leaves, fallen pinecones, the last green leaf, etc; a craft gathering mission: pinecones covered in glitter are great Christmas ornaments, dried flowers and flower pods can decorate your mantel, moss can be put in your Christmas nativity scene, maple keys and twigs make delightful dragonflies ideal for ornaments or mobiles, leaves can be ironed between two sheet of wax paper and strung together to make a window bunting or mantel decoration;  or go geocaching and teach your child some orienteering skills (many of the easier geocaches can be found without a GPS, using simple map skills, a compass and some observation)

3. Look to The Skies

Summer is ideal for stargazing because of the warm nights and clear skies. But fall can be even better, especially if you have young kids. Why? Now that the nights are darker earlier it’s easy to let kids stargaze without having to deal with cranky children the next morning. Or, if you’d rather, you can get up just a tiny bit earlier and still be in the dark. You’ll need a tarp or waterproof picnic blanket and lots of blankets, sweaters, hats and mittens. The next major meteor shower is the Leonids, which will peak on November 17th and 18th. The best time to view these may be early in the morning, after the moon has set. Another viewing kids will enjoy is showing them the flyby of the International Space Station. You’ve got to be on your toes for this one, though, as it’s only in the sky above you for a couple of minutes.

4. Guy Fawkes Had it Right

Bonfires aren’t just for November 5th, you know! Parliament may have burned in a night, but you can keep your fires going more often. There’s nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire on a cold fall evening. Again, the early darkness lends itself easily to including even young children and not having to worry about bedtimes. And the cooler weather means no dusk mosquitoes to bother you. Roast a few marshmallows and have a thermos of hot chocolate ready. Roasted marshmallows in hot chocolate is a delicacy your kids won’t soon forget. Our family loves heading out to Bottle Cove for a beach fire, but even your backyard will do. Just make sure that you use a proper firepit in residential areas.

5. Finding Feathered Friends

Being so close to the Bay St. George Estuary, Corner Brook lends itself well to bird watching in all seasons.  You can decide on a couple of species to look for, or try to identify every bird you see. Or you can just look for birds in general – it all depends on the age and abilities of your kids and the informational content of your field guide. The library and the internet can give you plenty of information about local bird species if you haven’t got a field guide. And if you’d rather not wander around looking for birds, just sit back, relax and wait for them to come to you during their annual migration.

There’s no reason to shut ourselves indoors just because it’s getting colder and darker. Embrace the seasonal change and the variety it offers to your outdoor experiences.

What’s your family’s favourite Fall activity?

Dara Squires is a freelance writer working from home in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. She lives with her one husband, three kids, one pet bunny and about one million dust bunnies. She writes for several papers in Newfoundland and the Canadian Anglican Journal. You can catch her witty or annoying (up to you) posts on her blog at www.readilyaparent.com.