Has autumn kicked in yet where you are? Here it’s just getting started. Some trees are completely yellow or brown leaved already, others haven’t begun yet. The horse chestnuts are spilling across the pavements and the temperature’s dropped down to “fleecy top” level. It’s a beautiful time of year to be getting outdoors and active. Even if you’ve got rain it doesn’t have to mean all-day tv or gaming sessions, here’s a roundup of a few of our favourite autumn themed games and activities:
Extend the benefits of a walk in the park or woods by having the kids collect pine cones for bowling with at home. Don’t collect all the pine cones though (yes, that’s the voice of experience) give them a task to find the ten tallest pine cones that they can.
Once you’re home, set up your pine cone skittles in the garden or even indoors (corridors and hallways can make good “bowling alleys”). Now with the help of a tennis ball and a pad of paper for keeping track of scores, you can run your own pinecone bowling contest. If the pinecones won’t stand up on their own you might want to mark a line behind them and consider cones to be knocked out if they go over the line.
Autumn nature scavenger hunt
Autumn’s a great time for scavenger hunts. There are plenty of interesting natural things to be found specific to this time of year. Chestnuts, horse chestnuts, pinecones and acorns all make good additions to your list. I’d also suggest including the leaves of different types of trees, or for younger children simply different coloured leaves (ie. find one red leaf, one orange leaf, etc.)
Conkers – A British childhood classic
This one needs no explaining for our British readers. For the rest of you, conkers is a game played using horse chestnuts (called conkers in colloquial British English). First, go for a walk with the kids and have them collect some conkers. Again, you might want to suggest that they collect the 10 biggest ones they can find so you don’t end up with bagfuls of the things lying around your home.
At this point many British children will use a variety of their favoured methods to try and make their conkers more resilient and hard. These include but are not limited to baking them in the oven for different amounts of time, leaving them in a vinegar solution and even varnishing them! You might like to do different treatments on several different conkers and see which is most effective. This step’s not essential though.
Now it’s time to make a hole through each of the conkers. You (the adult) should do this, either punching the holes with something sharp like a skewer or drilling it with an electric tool. Once the conkers have holes, string a footlong piece of string through each one and tie it off.
The game itself is played by two players. One holds the end of their piece of string with their conker hanging from it as still as possible. The second player swings their conker at the first one as hard and as accurately as possible. Then the two players switch roles. They take it in turns to strike each other’s conker until one of the conkers breaks and comes off of it’s string. A conker which wins a series of such battles without breaking is considered a prized possession.