Free Fall Activities

From outdoor art, to the art of storytelling, you can keep the whole family entertained this fall without breaking the bank!

Fall family tree

Let nature provide the inspiration for art projects this fall. Grab whatever paper and crayons you already have around the house and hit the outdoors. Have your kids size up the trees around them and pick their favorite tree to trace. Just place the paper over the tree trunk, grab your crayons and rub them across the paper down the center of the page — from the middle of the sheet to the bottom, replicating the shape of a tree trunk. The texture from the bark will come through on your page as you continue to fill it in with color. Then, create your own family tree by drawing branches onto your replica tree trunk and filling in family names.

Living room campout

If the weather has you rained in, consider an impromptu living room campout. Grab blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights to create an indoor adventure that’s all about family time. Turn off your TV, mute your phone and pretend you're cut off from the rest of the world. Pitch a makeshift tent using sheets and chairs, then gather inside and take turns seeing who can tell the spookiest story. Or, snuggle up and read books by flashlight.

Photo scavenger hunt

Make a list of items found in nature, like pine cones, maple leaves, spider webs or streams, then head to a local park or nature trail. You can tackle the list together, taking turns to see who can find the next item, or divide into teams and meet back at a designated area to see who completed their list first. Have your smartphone handy and every time you find an item, snap a photo of it — ideally with a family member in the photo. Silly faces, overt finger pointing at the object and over-the-top looks of surprise are all encouraged. The upside of a photo scavenger hunt is that long after you find everything you set out to, your memories are preserved in pictures and you can use them in collages and scrapbooks later.

Go old-school

There's a reason why the last few generations grew up playing outside until the street lights came on... without spending a dime. Hide-and-Seek, Kick the Can, or a couple rounds of I Spy can provide hours of entertainment and cost nothing to play. I Spy can be played anywhere, from outdoor malls to your own backyard. Plus, all of the back-and-forth guessing can help you reinforce lessons on shapes, colors or vocabulary with your kids. Besides, if you have little ones, there are few things in life that are cuter than hearing them say, “I spy with my little eye.” 

Read more about family fun

Get ready for fall fun
10 Ways to make the most of a sunny Sunday afternoon
7 Kid-friendly outdoor activities


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Comments on "Fall family time without spending a dime"

Francine September 24, 2012 | 12:51 PM

I love these tips on ways to have free family fun! Kids have HUGE imaginations and they can have fun doing just about anything. I find that board games are a great way to have free family fun time together. My kids get extremely excited playing checkers or cards, and they also love games like Bingo and Hangman. The fun lasts for hours and I make them root beer floats and popcorn. It is a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night and it reminds of what family is all about.

Emma September 20, 2012 | 2:50 PM

Camping out is so much fun! Whether its in your living room, back yard, or at an actual site! I love the convenience of at home, and you still get the kids excited and pumped up!

Laurel September 20, 2012 | 2:49 PM

Nature walks are a great way to get outside, enjoy the change of seasons, and do different things to help home educate your kids! Picking things along the walk and making projects back at home are a great way to keep that fun going!!

Tina September 20, 2012 | 1:43 PM

I remember being a little kid and playing I spy in the park with my parents for hours, and tag or playing on the swings. Once the weather gets nice out, there are almost infinite ways to have fun.

Shannon September 20, 2012 | 1:38 PM

A living room camp out is great! Totally free, and spices up you average friday night of watching a movie or ordering pizza. Make smores instead!

Jennifer Chidester September 20, 2012 | 12:09 PM

Great tip, Amy! Never underestimate the value of family walks & creative play time. They cost nothing and fresh air and exercise benefit everyone. Thanks, Tiffany! Fun + Free are always a good combo when it comes to family time & getting creative with your budget!

Amy September 20, 2012 | 10:33 AM

My favorite fall activity that's free is going for walks in the evening with my family. It gets us all out and gets us some exercise. A lot of times we'll walk past a lake or a park and stop and let the kids play. It's a great, free way to bond and get out of the house.

Tiffany September 20, 2012 | 10:32 AM

This is a great article and really goes to show that you can have fun without spending a dime! I feel like everyone's on a budget now a days. You still need to have fun, though, which is why all these suggestions are perfect. Thanks!

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