Three fun games to explore nature and the outdoors in Autumn
It’s officially Fall! The kids are back to school and the weather is starting to change. This is the perfect time to spend weekends outdoors. Fall brings people to the apple orchards, pumpkins patches, and to the woods for hikes.
Head to the woods for a scavenger hunt
Hiking in the Fall is a great educational opportunity to observe nature with your children. Make it even more fun by turning your trek into a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt game.
Depending on the ages of your children, you can opt to split up into teams, or stay together as a family. If you choose to split up, consider your surroundings and make sure everyone is familiar so that no one gets lost. If you venture out into a large wooded area, it would be wise to make sure each group is accompanied by at least one adult, and is equipped with a whistle and a cell phone as a safety precaution to ensure everyone finds their way back. Discuss other safety hazards before embarking such as nearby bodies of water, poison ivy, and giving wild animals safe distance.
Write a list before you go of all the items to find on your hike. Think about different colors and shapes of leaves, sticks, rocks, pods and nuts. If participants ar
e equipped with a camera device, turn it into a photo scavenger hunt. Bring a bag for each person to gather items, and give them a list of things to either collect or capture in a photo such as spider webs, squirrels, butterflies, birds, fallen logs with fungi growing on them, pine cones and acorns. Encourage them pick up other interesting items they discover along the way even if they are not on the list.
Set a time limit, and a home base. When everyone returns at the end of the hunt, compare finds and award prizes for most items captured, most unusual, most colorful, etc.
A scavenger hunt not only allows your family to get exercise and enjoy the outside, but you get to add fun and learning to the experience when you help your children identify their finds. Click here for a handy leaf identification chart to help identify common trees.
Explore your neighborhood to find nature's musical instruments
No time to head to the woods? There are plenty of ways to turn nature exploration into a game around your neighborhood.
Set a time limit and have children search for 3 items outside that can be used to make noises. Look for two sticks that you knock together, two rocks, 1 rock that you hit on the ground, fallen branches with dried crackly leaves or pods attached that can be shaken, leaf that you bend and blow into, piece of grass that you put between your thumbs and make it whistle. Let kids be creative. When everyone returns, see how many different sounds can be created with the items and use the opportunity to children them how to keep a simple rhythmic beat while singing a song together. Experiment with each child playing a different beat and then try doing it all together to see how it sounds. You’ll be surprised how much fun they can have playing music. The kids will love it and you never know, you could start a family band!
Play an urban game of "I Spy"
Are you raising your children in an urban environment where green space is scarce? A brisk Fall walk can become an adventure with a fun game of “I Spy.” Take turns spotting an object within eyesight and then say, “I spy with my eye something beginning with L” (or whatever other letter as appropriate). Use hints like “warm,” “cold,” and “hot” to help guide children toward the direction of the secret object as they try to guess. Giving hints helps speed the game along and and helps to avoid frustration. Once the secret object has been guessed, someone else takes a turn. .
Games are a great way to enjoy the Fall weather. Enjoy these days while you can. It’s going to get cold soon enough and you’ll be trying to find things to do inside!
Christen DiNapoli is a global brand marketer and forward-thinking leader who has brought fun and games into the Toy industry for over a decade. She is co-founder of CDK Creative Play Marketing and Design Consultants. Prior to that, she led a Project Management team, and helped bring hundreds of fun and innovative products to market. CDK has over 40 years of combined experience and a deep understanding of marketing and design in the toy and game industry.
Christen and her partners at CDK Creative Play help companies convert ideas, insights and trends - into games - and then help launch them into the marketplace. They have extensive understanding of game product design, taking into account costing and manufacturing barriers. They can provide deep insights on consumer segments including preschool, kids, puzzles, families, and adults. They understand how game companies operate and how to make compelling game presentations to key decision makers.
Contact Christen (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more about how CDK Creative Play can help you grow your ideas.
Michelle Spelman is Editor and Inventor Relations Liaison for Chicago Toy & Game Group. She is a game inventor, and co-founder of Flying Pig Games LLC, creators of award-winning Jukem Football card game. She is also founder of Cincinnati Game & Toy Industry Professionals group, and is the Cincinnati Children’s Toy Examiner. An independent marketing consultant providing contract services, executive coaching and strategic direction, she’s in her sweet spot when she is working with companies focused on women and family-oriented products and services.