I have a confession: My name is Charlotte and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE AUTUMN!
From wrapping up warm to colourful crunchy leaves, darker nights, pumpkin spice, muddy puddles and even the wind and rain, it’s gorgeously atmospheric and probably my favourite time of year. Add in Halloween and Bonfire Night and it’s so much fun I can barely stand it.
We spent six years in Canada where they go big on fall and really embrace the colours, cosiness and flavours. We’ve tried to continue that while living in Calderdale and our kids are big autumn fans now too. So to spread as much autumnal love as possible, here is a list of my favourite things to do with kids.
Autumn leaves Pull on your wellies, make a big pile of colourful leaves then jump in and enjoy the satisfying crunch! Kids love throwing them up in the air and watching them fall back down. Make a day of it and blow away the cobwebs with a family walk.
🍂Download a printable pdf here for ideas of great places to explore in the North East, with more info & ideas here.
Decorate the house We picked up some decorative pumpkins, hedgehogs and branches in Lidl a few years ago and use them to decorate the shelves and mantlepiece. I love the gorgeous autumnal wreaths and flowers you can find in florists too, and we have a bunch of lillies and ornamental cabbages on our kitchen table.
👻You can get plenty of inspiration for spooky decorations from our 2020 Halloween Hall of Fame photo gallery here.
Go pumpkin picking Choosing and pulling your own pumpkin is a treat in itself, but pumpkin farms often add additional activities such as wagon rides, fancy dress and much more. Alternatively, you can always pick up a pumpkin at the supermarket or local grocers and make an activity out of carving or decorating it.
🎃For pumpkin picking and other North East Halloween events click here.
Make pumpkin pie A huge slice of chilled pumpkin pie is one of my absolute favourite foods ever! When my kids know I’ve made one they want it for breakfast. ALWAYS use either canned pureed pumpkin or a small culinary pumpkin from the supermarket (also called sugar or pie pumpkins). Never use the big, carving-type pumpkins, they are too stringy to yield good, smooth results.
My favourite recipe is this one from Smitten Kitchen, but I cheat and buy ready prepared sweet pastry and don’t bother with the sauce. It’s bursting with autumnal flavours and absolutely delicious, I swear!
Make pumpkin soup Again, only use the small culinary pumpkins, not leftovers from one you carved. I halve the pumpkin, scoop the seeds out (to roast later) and put both halves on a baking tray with a couple of roughly chopped sweet potatoes, an onion, a few whole cloves of garlic and some carrots. Drizzle olive oil over and roast for about 40 minutes, checking to make sure they are soft enough and not burned. Scoop out the soft pumpkin flesh and add to a saucepan with the rest of the veggies and squeeze the garlic out of its skin. Add enough water to cover, a chicken stock pot, salt, pepper, some chilli powder and cumin. Heat then blend. Delicious!
Go apple picking Pick a bag of apples (or buy one from the shops!!!) and turn them into pies, crumbles, sponge cakes, apple chips, apple butter, sauce for pork…. They taste delicious and make your house smell lovely. We sauteed thinly sliced apples with garlic and honey, stuffed them into chicken breasts, and a baked a caramel apple pie, delicious!
Make toffee apples Actually I recommend chocolate apples instead after I nearly broke teeth on our homemade efforts last year! Simply melt down some chocolate, insert a lolly stick into the apples, dip them into the chocolate then dip again into the topping of your choice (sprinkles, rice crispies, popping candy, crushed nuts, coconut, etc). If you prefer toffee, there is a recipe here.
Go on an Autumn Scavenger Hunt! It can be as simple as giving the kids a paper bag each to hold the autumn treasures that they find, or print out a proper scavenger trail. You could even make your own, or can use this picture scavenger hunt for younger kids. Some of our favourite things to find are pine cones, the smell of a bonfire and a smoking chimney. The kids love filling their bags too.
Clipboards are great for making sure paper doesn’t fly away, and crayons work best in damp weather. Make sure everyone has their own, unless incessant fighting is also on your list! If you are going just before it gets dark, hi-vis vests for the kids and a torch each ensures everyone is visible in poor light.
Cook on a campfire Hot dogs, chilli and baked potatoes taste even nicer cooked over a campfire, followed by an ooey gooey s’more! If you have the space in your garden, have an autumnal tea out there.
Have fun with conkers All that scavenger hunting could leave you with a pretty big yield of conkers. There are tons of ideas here to help you put them to good use, from making conker caterpillars, paintings and incorporating them into maths – plus where to look for conkers in & around Gateshead.
Make a scarecrow or penny for the guy Embrace tradition and make your own guy. There’s a penny for the guy craft tutorial here, and instructions for creating a scarecrow for the garden here.
Enjoy some ‘Hygge’ Time Have a ‘hygge’ day. Gather your cosiest blankets and cushions then let the kids make a den to snuggle in. String up fairy lights and stick battery-operated candles in lanterns. Best enjoyed with howling winds and rain outside. Snuggle inside and watch a movie, or enjoy a picnic tea! For more hygge inspiration click here.
Thanks so much to our guest blogger Charlotte. If you have family or friends in Halifax or Calderdale be sure to let them know about the Calderdale Mumbler site.
There’s plenty on Gateshead Mumbler to help keep little ones (and big ones!) busy, check here for more ideas and info for playgroups, classes and fun days out from tots to teens!