1. Explore something.
Got a sleuth in the house? Grab a sweater, head outdoors, and let the little nature lover have fun getting up close and personal with all the different trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, and woody plants in your area. Do it now, in the fall, when the air is brisk, the leaves are turning colors, and the neighborhood trees look super pretty.
Help your child gather leaves, flower petals, and samples of tree bark. Spread them out on the ground and take plenty of pictures—or take them home for further study. Identify trees by the texture and color of the bark, the shape of the trees, and the leaves’ size, shape, color, and other features. Create a guide to area trees as you learn more about them. Introduce your child to terms like evergreen, deciduous, and arborist— neat vocabulary words for little learners.
2. Celebrate something.
On Sunday, September 13, set aside time to call, visit, or Skype Grandma and Grandpa. It’s National Grandparents Day—a perfect time to honor the people who would go to the moon and back for your cuties. Help older kids bake a cake, or cupcakes, to commemorate the occasion. Or just let your family hang out and do whatever they like to do together: read a book, take a walk, watch a movie. Sleepovers work too. Grandparents are known to bend the rules (Bedtime? What bedtime?), so relax your standards for a couple of hours. If there’s time, urge your kids to connect with another elderly relative or a neighbor who needs a visit. They can exchange ideas, listen, and demonstrate empathy.
3. Discover something.
Treat your child to a rock-solid experience this month. Give him a taste of an Indiana Jones-style adventure. Hand over a pail and shovel on Collect Rocks Day, Wednesday, September 16, and let your child get to know the ground beneath his feet—before winter sets in and frost or snow blankets the area. There’s an exciting world down there, with tons of rocks and pebbles, along with worms, beetles, grubs, plant roots, snakes, insects, and spiders.
And here’s the thing: all this digging can make your child smarter. He can wow others with his knowledge of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks as he learns how to identify them. If worms and other moving things are more exciting, he can capture and store them temporarily in glass jars with holes in the lids. Help him return all life-forms to their environment when he’s done exploring.
4. Swing at something.
Squeeze in one last game of golf—mini golf, that is—before your local course shuts down for the season.
Why golf? Because it’s a great way for kids to work on physical and social skills, including hand-eye coordination, taking turns, and patience! Visit a local course on Miniature Golf Day on September 21, and if the game’s a hit, try a mini-golf club crawl next weekend.
Or try foot golf. No kidding. Check it out. It’s a lot like golf and a little like soccer. It’s perfect for an autumn day and it is the hot sport that you’re going to love but didn’t know you were missing. Kid-and-parent pairs of varying skills and ages can play this together on a formal foot-golf course. Or try a friendly round of at home, adapted for your space, and wear anything you want to be comfortable.
5. Practice something.
Archery is a crazy-awesome activity for kids and parents, and fall is the perfect time of year to hone your skills with bows and arrows. Archery is fun, safe (with supervision), and inexpensive, and participation pays off big time—physically, socially, and academically. Archery builds skills, confidence, discipline, and awareness, as well as core strength, balance, hand-eye coordination, and stability. Sounds good, doesn’t it? You probably remember archery from The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, or Robin Hood. (The latter also happens to be a pretty good adventure story to read together, as a family, afterward.)
6. Learn something.
You may not think about American history all that much. But you can change that (and teach your kid a thing or two or three) on Thursday, September 17. That’s because the 17th is Citizenship Day and Constitution Day. Both are official U.S. holidays that are super important, but they’re often overlooked and underrated.
Now you have twice the incentive to turn yourself and your kid into American history wizards. Try these stand-out facts about the U.S. Constitution to get started.
Did you know that:
- The signers were all born in the United States or were naturalized citizens.
- The document was penned in Philadelphia, in secret, behind locked doors in the same location where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
- And get this: two of the most famous Founding Fathers didn’t even sign the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was in France, and John Adams was in Great Britain!
- Benjamin Franklin, 81, was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and Jonathon Dayton, 26, was the youngest.
- The original document is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., but when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.
7. Lose something.
Like your way. In a maze. Really. It’s tons of fun and it could be the coolest thing you do all season. With luck—and legwork—you may be able to find a maze close by that’s well designed and large enough (two miles or more) to keep highly energetic kids busy for several hours. Depending on where you live, you also may be able to find one that suits your family’s needs: not too scary, not too childish. Are there maps or aerial photos to help you navigate? Check trail conditions before you go. Ask what happens if you get lost. If you have young kids, make sure the maze you have in mind is stroller friendly.