Fall Back to Family Traditions: 10 Outdoor Activities I Passed on to My Tween

When I was a kid, things were different than they are today. There were no Facebook updates or angry birds to smash into egg-stealing pigs. I played outside until I could barely see my hand in front of my face and life was simple. I always loved the fall months. The summer heat was fading away and outdoor fun consisted of worms, mud pies and rainbows. I warned my husband before we started a family that I would never grow up and I kept my promise. Every fall, my senses brighten and I get antsy like a child on Christmas Eve just waiting for the chance to spend time outside with my tweens.

Take your kids out at night. When I was a child, my parents sold fishing bait from our front porch. During fall months when the rain would pour from the sky, we would run outside with flashlights to catch worms.

Give kids a lesson in gardening. In late August or early September the potato plants die off. This is the time for the potato harvest. Every year I take my kids back home to pick potatoes from mounds of dirt.

Preserve the fruits of summer. With a knife in one hand and a cutting board in another, my dad would take me outside every fall to pick tomatoes for canning. We spent hours picking, cleaning, blanching, peeling, cutting and canning the fruits of summer.

Prepare for a greener summer lawn. Strap on aerating spikes and march around the lawn. There’s nothing more fun than stomping grass with spikes on your feet and it helps grass grow greener next year.

Jump through a few rainbows. Kids young and old love rainbows, so every fall when the weather was still warm enough to wear a bathing suit, I would hold the hose in the air to create a rainbow while my friends took turns jumping to touch the colors in the sky.

Collect hop sticks. I never owned a piece of sidewalk chalk as a kid, so I used sticks to play hopscotch. Gather straight sticks from around the yard and create a hopscotch board.

Cook a feast with nature. I vividly remember the Formosa tree in our front yard. Just before the leaves would fall, I would collect Formosa leaves, flowers, weeds and other plants to “cook” nature’s feast.

Make a little mud mess. When the fall rains start, so do the mud pie fights. Things may get a little dirty, but that’s the fun of throwing mud pies.

Get clean like birds do. After throwing mud pies for hours, I always jumped in every puddle I could find to clean off my shoes. At least that’s what I told my parents.

Hunting for mushrooms. Mountain mushrooms, or morel mushrooms as five-star chefs call them, only grow in the fall. As soon as the leaves started floating to the ground, my dad would take me out into the woods to hunt for a few delicious pieces of fungus.

Outdoor fall activities include more than raking leaves and jumping into the huge, crunchy pile. As a kid, I lived for the fall months when tomato plants bloomed, potatoes hills were plowed and mountain mushrooms sprouted from beneath the earth. I’m lucky my children live for the same outdoor fun.