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15 fun (and mostly free!) ideas for fall activities to do with your kids 🍂

With Labor Day over, cool weather moving in and the first day of fall right around the corner, I can't help but crave all of those wonderful things that make this season so enjoyable: sweaters, fires, food, mums... the list goes on and on.

That being said, I always try to to soak up the simplicity the seasons brings and hope that my boys will someday appreciate the little things too.

Here are some fun and nearly free activities to do this fall with your little ones:

1. Bob for apples

Grab a bowl, an empty cooler or even a tub, throw a few apples in there and see who can get one the fastest. You can also tie the apples on a string, hang them up and bob get after them for some family laughs.

2. Jump in leaf piles

Rake as many leaves in your yard as you can and create fun piles to jump in—before bagging later. This is a great way to get the kiddos involved in cleanup and have a little fun! (Plus, for us task-oriented parents, it's a nice middle ground.)

3. Make popcorn balls

These are not only delicious, but so fun to make and pack to school in the lunchbox! Here's one of my favorite recipes.

4. Get lost in a corn maze

Last year we managed to get lost in a corn maze. In the moment, I never thought I would say it was fun—but now I totally do. We pulled together as a family and found our way out. We still laugh about it to this day!

5. Make leaf crowns

Jumping in leaf piles is great, but save a few of those to make a beautiful leaf crown. All you need is some craft wire to string your leaves on, mold it into a circle and wear!

6. Eat your way through an apple orchard

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Picking apples is fun, but snacking on them as you do so is even better! There's nothing quite like picking an apple, fresh off the tree and taking a bite.

7. Bake up a bunch of apple recipes

When we got back from the apple orchard, I let my little guy use my old-fashioned apple peeler. It's fun to watch him turn it around and around—and it helps me out tremendously as I get to work on apple pies, applesauce and apple butter!

9. Roast pumpkin seeds 

Instead of dumping the seeds from your jack-o-lantern project, turn them into yummy treats. I like playing around with several different flavor options, such as sweet, spicy and savory.

10.  Make leaf people

Find a few of your favorite leaves and turn them into people for a fun, super cheap craft. Then branch out and make a whole leaf zoo!

11.  Make a sensory bag with pumpkin guts

If you've got a baby in the house, hold onto those leftover pumpkin insides, place them in a safe ziplock bag, tape it to the floor and let your little one squish around with it!

12.  Roast dinner over an open fire

Throw some hotdogs on the fire and enjoy and family dinner together. Easy, fun and tasty! (Just be sure to team up with your partner so someone can always keep an eye on little ones by the flames.)

13.  Draw pictures of the changing scenery

Encourage kids to think about the animals that come out this time of the year and doodle those into their nature journals.

14.  Have a face-painting party

This is a great warmup for Halloween—especially since there is no shortage of face-painting supplies at local party stores this time of year.

15.  Make bird feeders

Gather pinecones, slather some peanut butter on them and roll them into birdseed. Then hang from a tall branch and keep track of all the birds who come to visit!

There is so much beauty in the fall season—and it's all so much sweeter when spent with family. Enjoy!

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

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I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

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