I don’t know about you, but we love Autumn in our house. Watching the leaves change colour, Autumn natural treasures to collect such as acorns, pinecones and conkers. Making leaf kebabs, autumn mud kitchens and Pumpkin activities. Leaf painting, crafts and baking.
Before we dive into our activities below, I’d love to share with you our Halloween fireplace. This is the first year that we have done this and we love it. Reading stories by the fire in the evening. I wasn’t sure if it would be a bit creepy with the skeleton – but my youngest loves it!
Below are a few of our favourite Autumn play ideas for children to inspire you at home or in your setting.
We tend to contain our play and activities in a tray – saves on the mess and it keeps it all in one place. We love mirror trays, smaller trays with handles for transporting and most recently a wicker tray. We tend to use a smaller round tray as it is compact, fits well in a corner in our conservatory and can easily be transported both outdoors and back in again!
Small Tray Autumn Play Ideas
We love this little metal tray with handles. It is perfect for smaller easier set ups. We add our handmade coloured chickpeas as a base to give a real sensory look and feel. They are so appealing and shiny but toddlers must be watched very carefully if you use these. I tend to create small world set ups in our small metal tray.
Natural treasure collections also look great displayed in the tray for discussion. Can children identify the natural loose parts and treasures?
Autumnal Loose parts are very appealing, exploring and identifying items. We added lots of Halloween themed treasures to the tray above. Orange, Purple and black pom poms with tweezers to encourage those fine motor skills.
Conkers and diggers are also appealing – especially for my boys. Set up a small world with diggers – you could add mud for a more messy play set up.
Autumn leaves with their changing colours are great to look at in more detail – can the children identify the colours? Can they decorate a cardboard tree with collected fallen leaves?
Children can make leaf kebabs with the fallen leaves collected too. Simply stick them on a wooden skewer – you can remove the sharp point if you wish. Fabulous for the mud kitchen.
Autumn Mud Kitchen play ideas
My boys have all loved mud kitchens – often spending a long time being very busy, mixing, tipping, pouring, transporting, making potions and mud pies. Conker tea and mud cakes are perfect at this time of year!
From leaf painting and printing to making collage pumpkins with tissue paper scraps. Play dough monsters and pumpkins. Natural Leaf confetti is so beautiful and great for practising those fine motor skills – use them to stick to your pictures. Decoupage pumpkins are also a nice autumn craft activity and these can then be used and displayed in your set ups. Make autumn wreaths and leaf faces – such a simple but effective idea.
Draw on your conkers with a white Posca pen – draw spiders on and have a spider hunt. You could add numbers or letters too for children to count and create the alphabet and words.
We enjoyed making carving these spooky orange peppers. So simple for little hands to do. Simply add a battery-operated candle.
Our recycled toilet roll tube castle and bats have been a hit for years too! Do tag us on our socials if you have a go – we love to see peoples renditions!
Here are our shrunken apple heads.
These take a few weeks to reach their spooky best! Simply peel apples, carve eyes, nose and mouth, add star anise teeth and then display them on wooden skewers to watch them decay, shrivel and shrink. Fascinating process to watch as they go and they dry out so that you can add them to your halloween displays and set ups.
Autumn Book Play Ideas
We have a few Halloween themed books. We love pop up books with lift the flaps and spooky noises. We always ready these together so that they don’t get damaged.
Crate shelfies are fab for your autumn displays and set ups – set up each crate with a selection of items to explore. I like to add books too. You can then change them up each week or every few weeks. Change them for your next theme or event. Add plants and fairy lights too to add a touch of magic. We love these wooden crates from Cosy.
Small World Autumn Play Ideas
It is one of my passions; setting up small worlds. Autumn in particular as you can add all your natural loose parts treasures.
Pumpkin picking and carving is always popular. Do you have a pumpkin farm near you? We prefer to visit farms that grow their own to get a proper experience and for the children to view the vines. We love to get them all home – all sizes and varieties – adding them to play set ups. We love roast pumpkin soup and carving them ready for Halloween. We use the left over seeds for sensory bags.
Sensory bags filled with pumpkin seeds
Autumn Nature Walks
We love autumn walks in the forest. Looking for mushrooms, searching for leaves to decorate and use in play. Looking for pine cones, acorns, conkers and horse chestnuts.
We store our autumn treasures in large potion jars. These above are from Cosy Direct.