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Looking for some fun fall activities you can do with the kiddos that won’t break the bank?
Fall and the holiday season are my favorite times of the year. I love saying goodbye to the summer heat, breaking out the pumpkin spice and watching the leaves turn.
The fall season also brings plenty of opportunities to do things as a family and we take full advantage. The best part is that a lot of our favorite activities are free or super cheap.
And when you’re trying to save money, cheap is great, right? So, if you’re a money-minded mama like me, you’ll appreciate this list of some of my favorite fall doings that are kid-friendly and budget-friendly, too.
Some of these are things I did with my kids when they were smaller and I was living on a tiny budget. Others are things we still do year after year.
Ready for some frugal inspiration for your family’s fall bucket list? Here you go!
53 Fun Fall Activities That Cost Little Money
1. Rake up leaves
…then jump in them!
2. Make apple stamp prints
I used to love this when my kids were smaller. You just slice an apple in half, dip it in a little washable paint and let them stamp away!
3. Try leaf rubbings or paintings
Leaf rubbings and paintings are another fun fall craft for kids. For the rubbings, you just need some leaves, white paper and crayons or pastels. You can also use the leaves as paintbrushes to make fall art.
4. Paint a pumpkin
Some years we carve pumpkins but other years we paint them. We drag all out the odds and ends from our craft closet–googly eyes, pom-pom balls, glitter, you name it–and let the creativity fly.
The great thing about painting instead of carving is that the pumpkins seem don’t spoil as quickly so we can enjoy them longer.
5. Create a nature journal
A nature journal is really simple to make. You can use a notebook, printer paper or construction paper. Kids can explore the backyard and fill up the pages with leaf rubbings or nature drawings.
6. Bake apple and pumpkin treats
One of the fun fall activities we do most often is bake. I love pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, apple fritters, apple donuts. Here are 50 yummy pumpkin and apple recipes to get you baking!
7. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the backyard
This is a simple way to spend an evening and make some memories as a family. Hot dogs and marshmallows don’t cost much but the time you spend together around a backyard bonfire is priceless.
8. Star-gaze and look for fall constellations
While you’re roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, check out the night skies and see if you can spot some fall constellations.
9. Check out free fall festivals
Where we live, there’s always a free fall festival going on in October and November. Check your local parks and rec department or town hall to see what’s on the schedule of fun fall activities for your area.
10. Plan a fall-themed scavenger hunt
11. Make homemade fall decorations
Instead of buying fall decorations, why not make them? You don’t have to go any further than the front yard to find leaves, pine cones and acorns, all of which can be turned into fall decor.
And if there’s just something you have to buy, my go-to choice for saving money is Dollar Tree–they even offer free shipping to your local store!
12. Plant flowers to get ready for spring
Spring is still months off but you can get a jump on gardening by planting some spring-blooming bulbs with the kids. Here’s a rundown of which bulbs to plant in the fall.
13. Make fair food at home
I love going to the fair each year just for the food. But I hate how much they charge for it. $8 for a corn dog? No thanks.
If you love fair food, too but you don’t love the costs you can always try making your own fair treats at home.
14. Make fall or Halloween cards
My kids love making fall and Halloween cards for friends and family. We just use cardstock, construction paper, markers and whatever stickers we have. If we don’t have any fall or Halloween stickers on hand, we get them at the Dollar Tree for a buck.
15. Play hide and seek after dark
Glow sticks are another great Dollar Tree find. We use them during hurricane season for lights when the power goes out. (Sounds silly, but it works!) And they’re also great for playing tag or hide and seek in the backyard once the sun goes down.
16. Bob for apples
Apple-bobbing is one of those fun fall activities that everyone should try at least once. Until you’ve done it, you don’t realize just how hard it is (or how much your kids will laugh at you while watching you try it.)
17. Host a Halloween-themed movie night
One of my favorite things about fall is watching Halloween and fall movies. We regularly have movie nights to screen “Hocus Pocus”, the Harry Potter movies, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” and of course, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
(Just don’t ask us if it’s a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie–my kids and I have agreed to disagree on that one!)
18. Schedule a fall-themed storytime
Reading fall books is just as much fun as watching fall movies. If you have smaller kids, you might try “Ten Apples Up on Top” or “Leaf Man” to kick off. Older kids might like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” if they want something more spookifying.
19. Make soup
Soup is great for cold days and there are plenty of options that are easy to make with kids. Getting them to eat soup might be the hard part so take a look at these kid-friendly soup recipes.
20. Toast pumpkin seeds
Toasted pumpkin seeds are tasty and easy to make. You can pop them in the oven, then read a fall book aloud or work on a fun craft while they toast.
21. Dip caramel apples
Making caramel apples belongs on your list of fun fall activities to try if you’ve got a sweet tooth. We’ve made standard caramel apples and mini caramel apple pops and you can trick out yours by adding fun toppings.
22. Try pumpkin bowling
Pumpkin bowling is more or less what it sounds like. You line up your pins, then let the pumpkins roll to see who can knock the most down. (And if you don’t have any plastic bowling pins lying around, you can always use toilet paper rolls.)
23. Make fall-themed slime
My son loves making slime. Every time we go to the store he wants to get a bottle of glue to mix some up.
If your kids love slime too, you’ll want to give some of these fall slime ideas a try!
24. Visit a farm
We live in a rural area where farms abound and there are several that offer free farm tours during the fall. You can see some animals, get outdoors and let the kids get a little dirty for a grand total of $0.
25. Start planning DIY Halloween costumes
We mostly DIY our Halloween costumes or use stuff we’ve made during the year for cosplay. If you want to save a few bucks on Halloween, look around the house to see what cool costumes you can make for the kids what supplies you already have on hand.
26. Make placemats for Thanksgiving
This fall tradition doesn’t actually belong to us–it’s something our friends and her kids do every year. But it’s such a cute idea that I wanted to include it anyway. Once you’re done with the placemats, you can explore other Thanksgiving crafts kids can make.
27. Make a thankful tree
The thankful tree is something we made up but I’ve seen other variations of it online. Here’s how we do it.
I cut out a bunch of leaf shapes from red, green, orange and yellow construction paper. Then starting November 1st, we each pick a leaf and write something we’re thankful for. Then we tape it to our pantry door where we can see it.
It’s a cheap and easy fall activity and a great reminder to count up all the good things in our lives.
28. Mix up fall-themed oobleck
Oobleck isn’t slime and it isn’t playdoh. It’s somewhere in-between.
But it’s a quick and cheap craft kids can make, then make a mess with. We’ve made cranberry oobleck before with cranberry sauce but you can also try it out with applesauce.
29. Go to homecoming at your local high school
So…I’ve been out of high school for a while. But going to homecoming is a fun fall activity to share with your kids. If nothing else, you can make them cringe by regaling them with tales of your high school awkwardness.
30. Make popcorn balls or kettle corn
Popcorn balls are great at Christmas and through the fall months. Kettle corn is great too if you like your popcorn with a little sweetness. The best thing about having popcorn in the fall is that it doesn’t cost much and you can change it up with different seasonings.
31. Make bird-feeders
While you’re enjoying fall, birds and squirrels are getting ready for winter. So give them a hand by making some DIY bird and squirrel feeders as a family.
One thing we do every year in the fall is volunteer. We go to a local nursing home and visit with the residents, dropping off cards and little gifts with our homeschool group. It’s one of the fun fall activities we do that I look forward to most each year.
33. Go trunk-or-treating
At my house, we don’t do traditional trick-or-treating anymore for a variety of reasons. But we do go trunk-or-treating at a couple of churches in our area, which is more fun (and safer).
34. Take a family bike ride
I love bike rides, especially later in the afternoon when the sun hits the leaves just right. Everything looks so pretty and it really starts to feel like fall when the days start getting shorter.
35. Go for a scenic drive
If all else fails and you’re looking for something to do on a weekend afternoon, you could pile in the car for a family drive. You can check out the changing leaves as you go.
36. Try a simple fall science experiment
My son loves doing science experiments of all kinds. One of our fun fall activities is doing simple experiments at home, like making a pumpkin-cano.
We also dig the fall and seasonal videos from Mystery Science. Doug and his weekly mini-lessons have become a regular part of our homeschooling routine.
37. Visit an arboretum
Last week, we toured an arboretum for the first time with our homeschool group and wow–I had no idea how interesting it would be!
My kids and I learned a lot about native plants and how they change with the season. The best part? The arboretum is run by our county’s cooperative extension so it didn’t cost a dime to get in.
38. Make homemade hot chocolate
I love hot chocolate when the weather gets cool. A few years ago, a friend taught me how to make it in a crockpot from scratch. It’s the perfect thing to have on hand for chilly days!
39. Make pumpkin spice play-doh
Some moms love playdoh, others hate it. If you’re the “love it” type, then take a look at this pumpkin spice playdoh recipe that’s just in time for fall.
40. Fly a kite
Where we live, the first week of November is always earmarked for our local kite festival. If you don’t have a festival nearby, you can improvise by flying a kite at home or the park.
41. Check out a holiday craft fair
Our local farmer’s market does a holiday craft fair in November and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday outdoors. The trick is setting a budget first, or better yet, committing to window shopping only.
42. Finger paint Indian corn
This is a simple but fun craft I did with my kids a couple of years ago. All you need is construction paper, a little finger paint and a dash of creativity!
43. Start putting together blessing bags to hand out at the holidays
We started doing this with our homeschool group a few years ago and it’s an expensive way to spend family time.
The bags we make get handed out at Christmas to kids at our local hospital. We fill them with inexpensive dollar store finds, like playdoh, stickers and simple crafts.
If you’re looking for some great low-cost blessing bag ideas, check out these posts:
Which Fun Fall Activities Will You Try as a Family?
Well, there you go! I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration for fun fall activities to add to your calendar.
Do you have a favorite fall tradition to do with kids? Leave a comment and tell me about it, then please share this post some love by pinning and sharing!