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Family Fun: 5 Naturally Fun Family Activities

School is back in session and that means family fun often falls to the wayside.  Ballgames, school activities, homework, and shorter days wreak havoc on fun. However, they shouldn’t.  Fall is the perfect time to get out in nature with your family.  You don’t need to give up all that summer fun and relaxation just because you don’t have a full day, days or week to dedicate to it.  In this post you will find just a few of our family’s favorite fall activities. Our awesome #SimplyBloggers group is also joining forces again, for another great Monday hop.  #SimplyFamilyFun
family fun

 

Summer is over, family fun isn’t:

Just because the ever shortening summer break is over, doesn’t mean you have to come inside and start hibernation just yet.  Time is short and limited during the school year, but it is still possible to find a few hours to enjoy being with your family, outside, before winter is in full swing.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an outdoorsy type, just get out for a few hours and enjoy your family.  Also, you’ll get the added health benefits of soaking up the extra vitamin D for Winter Wellness, decreasing stress, and letting the kids run off a little of that pent-up energy from a full day of brain stimulation.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, for most you don’t even need to leave your house, and all of these are cheap or better yet FREE!!

No worries, I’ll even throw in our favorite, rainy day, indoor, activities and a recipe for those who REALLY don’t want to go outside.

1. Outside Games:

Our family LOVES to play games, especially just before and  after dark. The warm, but not hot, dusky fall evenings are the perfect time for a little family fun in the yard.

  • Toss & Talk:  Any ball will do.  Football, baseball,  an inflated rubber ball from the dollar store or even an old rolled up sock or towel. We LOVE to stand around and toss a ball back and forth while discussing the events of the day.  This event includes Dad, Mom, Mamaw, and 6 kids ages 19 to 1.  Sometimes we even sit in our lawn chairs while we toss it back and forth.  One of the fun alterations we make to the typical game of toss it, is, “random order”.  Whoever has the ball attempts to throw it to another person, while looking at someone else. So Dad is looking at mom, but quickly throws the ball to big brother.  We laugh and never quit talking during this game.  This has even become a tradition while watching tv or reading the paper.
  • Kick the can:  A fun and physical version of hide-n-go-seek with.  This game is even more fun when played after dark with older kids.  The person who is “it” must close their eyes and count while the rest go and hide.  Then when “it” starts seeking, they all try to make it back to the can and kick the can without being caught.  If they are tagged by “it” then they must sit in a designated area until everyone is caught or until someone kicks the can to free them.
  • Tree climbing competition:  Who can do the most pull ups? Who can hang upside down the longest? Who can get in the tree the fastest?  Yes Mom & Dad you can still do this.
  • Collect Edible Weeds There are so many things to eat in your yard. Including dandelion, plantain, chickweed, and clover.  Go out and identify those, then make a game of seeing who can find the most or who can make the most creative salad.  Edible weeds found in this field guide are not only fun to find, but have many health benefits. Kids love foraging for food and they are more likely to eat it if they find it.
  • Horse: or any other word you want to spell while doing crazy basketball shots.  We get to the point of shooting backwards, lying down, standing on one foot, etc.  Make it fun, make it easy for the younger kids and change-up the word.  If you don’t have a ball goal then do it with something else.  We have even used that week’s spelling word list. 😉

2. Visit your parks: Local, State & National

It is a blessing to live in an area rich in natural beauty.  Surrounding us we have several local parks, state parks and national forests.  These make for great places to play games, read books, and take  hikes.  Here is a list of things to do while visiting your parks. These make great afternoon and evening escapes.  Nothing like a short hike after dinner.

  • Scavenger Hunt:  Learn about your natural resources and then go find them.  Stop by the visitor center and pick up a trail guide. Most state and national parks even have pre-printed scavenger hunts for the kiddos.
  • Short Hikes: We love exploring the local trails or even hiking parts of trails while planning our next big camping trip.  Many parks have short hikes to waterfalls, caves, rock outcroppings and scenic overlooks.  You can easily pack a baby or toddler along  using an awesome backpack carrier or wrap. We have hiked 10 miles and 1 mile, depending on what we were up to for that day and the amount of daylight we had.  I’ve hiked with babies as young as 2 weeks old. Not in great shape, no worries, do a quick google search of “easy” trails in your area.  Many are simply walking paths.  Don’t forget to take plenty of water and a lightweight jacket.  Even though it is cool and you won’t be sweating much, you can still dehydrate pretty easily.  One of our favorite “easy” hikes, here in East Tennessee (this is a link to an AMAZING book leading you to some awesome waterfalls if you are in our area) is the Oscar Blevins Farm Loop in Big South Fork .  It’s an easy 3.7 mile hike where you see an old farm, waterfall, rock structures, etc. It has everything a hike needs and can be completed after school if you live close. 
  • Swimming: Most of the pools close when school starts back, but many lakes have swimming areas, and many short hikes lead to small streams and waterfalls.  Before it gets too cold take a few more plunges in your local water.
  • Picnic: An absolute favorite of ours that can be done at home or a park, EATING OUTSIDE!! Why does everything taste so much better outside?  We pack a picnic of sandwiches or grab the stuff to grill and head to an outside table.  We leave the phones in the house or the car and just enjoy dinner with nature all around.  With paper plates, cups and napkins, this means no kitchen clean up and more time to enjoy the family fun.

3. Marksmanship Practice & Competition

From nerf guns to air rifles, .22 to 12 gauge, arrows and knives, and even racquetballs; it’s always fun to see who has the best aim.

*****Of course you should use ALL safety equipment and precautions when practicing marksmanship, even a nerf dart can put out an eye.*****

We love to shoot.  We aren’t experts, we don’t have a ton of money to spend on ammo, and that isn’t something the babies can do.  However, when we get a few extra hours it isn’t unusual to find us shooting targets.  Sometimes we head to a local WMA free range and actually target practice with live rounds and real weapons.  Sometimes we just set up cardboard targets in our backyard and see who is the best shot with an air rifle or nerf gun.

Here are the safety rules we use when target practicing with ANYTHING: B.A.N.K.

  • Be Aware of your surroundings.  Know what is in front of you, behind you and beside you at all times.
  • All guns are ALWAYS loaded.  I don’t care if you just unloaded it and took the firing pin out, treat it like it is loaded.
  • Never point a weapon at something you are not willing to kill or destroy.  NEVER! Just don’t do it.  This is a 100%, sure-fire way to avoid shooting yourself or anyone else.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger.  NEVER EVER, put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire.  NEVER.  Be very aware of your trigger finger and keep it outside the trigger guard until you are sure you want the projectile leaving the weapon.

If you don’t have a range near by or  if you aren’t into firearms, even of the nerf sort, then here is another idea:
Cut out a hole in a piece of cardboard, just bigger than a racquetball or baseball, and throw at that. 🙂 

4. Bon Fires:

This seems to be an quickly increasing family fun pastime.  Everywhere you look you see ready-made fire-pits , or pinterest fire-pit “how to” pins.  Fall is full of leaves and brush to be cleaned up, so why not put it all to good use. (Check your local fire codes, city codes, and wildlife management for rules before burning.)

This is a family favorite at our house.  You can find us, several times a month, gathered around a small fire, roasting marshmallows and reading books.  There is nothing better than reading “My Side of the Mountain” or “Where the Red Fern Grows“, while sitting cozy around the fire.   We have read so many good books, while sitting outside around the fire.  Even the big kids will still sit and listen to mom or dad read a classic favorite.  One of our most recent finds is the “How to Train Your Dragon” series.  Nothing at all like the movie, these books will have young, old, and everyone in between laughing for hours.

5. The Insider:

Ok, so I promised some family fun things to do for the “inside” crew.  I guess there really are people in the world who don’t love being outside.  So here are some family fun ideas we use when it is super cold, rainy, or we just need some “down” time to get away from the stress.

  • Stove-top popcorn and a movie.  This is by far our favorite inside, family fun activity.  Stove-top popcorn is actually quicker and healthier than the microwave mess.  Let me share my easy recipe with you.
    • add a few tablespoons of coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil to a deep pan, that has a lid. turn the heat up to almost high and let it get hot.  Add about a half cup (for a big family sized kettle) of non-gmo popcorn kernels put the lid on, and wait until you hear a pop.  As soon as you hear a pop or two, start shaking the pan and shake, shake, shake until the popping starts to slow or the pan is full.  Remove from heat,  divide out into bowls, and salt with some healthy sea salt.  The taste cannot be beat and the kids will love hearing and watching the corn pop.
    • Throw in your favorite movie or the latest release and RELAX.
  • Books and popcorn: Ok, so maybe we have a popcorn and book addiction, we look for reasons to read good books.  There is no better time, than a rainy night, gathered around some warm pop corn, snuggled under blankets on the couch, to start a new book.
  • Board Games: (and popcorn)  This is another family fun favorite around here.  We have a cabinet that can’t be shut because of board games. We even let the littles join in and move pieces or count the dots.  These are just a FEW of the many we really enjoy.
    Family Fun Pinterest

    Yes, this really is only PART of our game closet. 😉

  • Toss & Talk : Same as above, only use a soft, indoor safe ball. 🙂

Get out there:

That’s it for today, now get out there and have fun.  Of course there are a million other things you can do with your family, the point is: DO THEM!  After school and work is hard, you are so tired and it is so easy to crash in front of the electronics and BURN.  Just remind yourself that time is short, kids grow up, and family fun is what memories are made of.  In 20 years they won’t remember what you made for dinner, homework help, or even what you watched on TV; what they will remember are the games you played, the laughter you shared and the stories you told.

Fall Family Fun

By the way, I LOVE hearing back from you, so please, drop a comment below and give your best ideas for family fun.  Tell me what you do.  Who knows, I might decide to throw them in my next family fun post. (Credit will go back to you of course.)

Here are  more ideas from my #SimplyBloggers group for having a little family fun when there isn’t much time and never enough money:

Allie Olsen over at Simply St. Augustine has a GREAT printable for Building Your Own Scavenger Hunt

Melissa at Blessed Simplicity has 10 GREAT ideas for Family Fun Night 

Jess is sharing WHY it is so important to have a Family Fun Night and some activity ideas.

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