Although the weather isn’t cooperating this week we are definitely heading towards that time of year when we crave apples, fuzzy sweaters, and all our favorite fall activities. Here are some of my ideas for keeping the littles and slightly less than littles busy on a budget!
Scarecrow Fest: One of my favorite fall festivals in St. Charles! Last year it got ‘covi-fied’ (that’s modified due to Covid restrictions) down into the ‘Scarecrow Stroll’. This year it looks like they have hybrid-ised it into a combination of the original Scarecrow Festival and the self paced, Covid-friendly, Scarecrow Stroll. It’s completely free to wander through the down town St. Charles business district and check out all the fun and original scarecrows that have been put on display. There will also be many fun fall photo opportunities along the way. For a small fee you can purchase a kit to take home and make your very own scare crow (last year it was $5 and went to support the local Boy Scouts). Just be prepared if you purchase one- it comes with a bale of hay…and it is HEAVY! It looks like they have brought back the fall craft show in Pottawatomi park as well and some new children’s events that I can’t wait to check out in Lincoln Park. Definitely worth a look- see link below.
Big Truck Show: Another totally free event. I would recommend this mostly for the younger kids. Basically a bunch of fun big vehicles like fire trucks, ambulances, fleet, and construction trucks are parked in the lot at James O. Breen community center and the kids can come and crawl in, on, and around them.
Story Walk: Fun and totally free! Another activity defiantly geared toward the younger crowd in response to Covid restrictions. It is a drop in, self paced activity located in the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve. Basically, the library has taken a children’s story, blown up the pages, and posted them on sign posts along the trail so that you can read and take a ‘toddler-sized’ hike at the same time. The path is stroller friendly, but a bit difficult to find. If you follow Google maps’ directions you will pass a nature center/welcome center, some old red barns, and then you will come to a point where you can no longer drive strait forward. There will be an old historic house on your right- turn left though and follow the path to a parking lot with picnic areas and rest rooms. You can park here and follow the paved path to your left (away from the bathrooms) and over a small bridge where you will begin to see the story signs on the right hand side of the path. From there, you can make your hike as long or as short, as easy or as challenging as you would like. Check out the link below for more information and the address.
Seasonal Reads: This last time we stopped in at the local library we discovered a whole display dedicated to seasonal books. Amongst our favorites to read out in the hammock under the changing leaves: Pumpkin Jack, by: Will Hubbell, Fall Apple Fun, by: Martha E. H. Rustad, and From Seed to Pumpkin by: Wendy Pfeffer.
Crafts and Activities:
Apple or Leaf Painting: We are lucky enough to have apple trees that no one has claimed ownership of growing in the easment behind our yard so we walk over and pick an apple or two, cut it in half, dip it in fall colored paint and use it like a stamp to create fun fall pictures. Similarly, you can go on a walk and collect some fall leaves, bring them home, coat them in paint, and drop them onto paper to create another fall inspired masterpiece. You can even combine the two for the ultimate fall picture!
Leaf rubbings: Again, enjoy a nice fall walk through your favorite park and collect some leaves, place them under a sheet of white paper and use your favorite crayon to color lightly over the top to reveal the outline of the leaf.
Sensory Corn: I stumbled upon this idea by accident one year at the Oswego fall festival. They had taken cheap plastic swimming pools and filled them with dried corn. I literally couldn’t get my daughter away from it! You can purchase a pretty heafty size bag of dried corn from Farm and Fleet for around eight dollars. I drained and dried my son’s water table and filled it with the corn- voila! Hours of sensory fun! I am pretty sure this is the squirrel’s favorite fall activity as well.
Melted Wax Leaf Pictures: This is my favorite fall art project. My mom used to make these with us every year and I have no idea where she came up with the idea, but it is brilliant. Every house with kids has that box of broken crayons right? Take the wrapper off the fall colored ones, roll out a sheet of wax paper, take some of those leaves that you collected on your previous walks (now pressed flat under a book for a day or two), and lay them on the wax paper. Use a potato peeler to shred the crayon onto the leaves. Sandwich that together with another layer of wax paper. Put a thin towel on top of this and then iron it with a warm iron to make the crayon wax melt. Once it cools you will have a pretty awesome fall leaf picture!
As always, keep these ideas in mind as you explore your own neck of the woods! Feel free to expand and improve on them and make them your own as you savor the season!