Autumn is a special time of the year. Bundling up in layers, crisp fallen leaves and that special golden light, make it a joyous time to be outside. There are limitless ways to enjoy nature during this season, and when you’re a child, the possibilities can stretch as far as your imagination.

Justine Dufrenne, a mother of two and an avid outdoors lover, knows well the boundless possibilities, having taken her 9 and 13-year-old children out for adventures many a time in her native France. Here she shares her top tips and ideas for fun outdoor activities to keep the kids entertained outside this autumn:

1. Be ready for an adventure:

“I always have a backpack ready with some snacks and water. Think about the destination: will you be going by the lake, to the park, into the forest, near a river or to the mountains? Depending on where you go, you can think of ideas of things to do there. For example, I take Posca pens (paint pens that you can use on a variety of surfaces), and if we find rocks, the children can get creative and paint them. Also, if you let kids roam around, they easily come up with all kinds of ideas.

Make sure you wear good protective outerwear and waterproof shoes so that whatever the weather, you’re ready and comfortable. I also have a rule: getting dirty is okay. Otherwise, there’s no point and no fun.”


2. Observe, don’t disturb:

“I don’t want my children to pull branches off trees, so if they take any branches or twigs, they have to be ones they find already fallen on the floor. That applies to everything: leaves, branches, nuts, rocks. I’ve also taught them that if they come across an animal or insect, that they should only look and leave it alone. So, observing, rather than disturbing. Also, you have a greater chance of seeing critters if you’re quiet.”


3. Try making some land art:

“Sometimes we just go outdoors without any purpose and see what we can find. We’ll pick up leaves, branches and stones on our walks and then find a space to make a decoration on the ground. There are lots of ideas online for land art.

Both my children are creative and imaginative. My daughter likes to run around and climb trees, so she enjoys more physical activities. My son is calmer, has amazing patience and likes observing things, so he likes finding fossils and fishing.”


4. Get creative with what you can find outside:

“If you want to try decorating some stones, look for flat ones, although any size is fine. If they’re small pebbles, the children can try doing tiny drawings on them. There are also lots of YouTube tutorials and Pinterest lists to check out for inspiration if you’re not sure what to draw.
I usually then take the stones home and put some varnish on them, so that they last. I would recommend not painting on rocks that are in the ground, because it can be damaging to nature, and also to try this activity on a dry day. I tell my children to only pick up loose stones that they can take back in their pocket.

Another activity that gets children to be creative when we are near a river or a stream, is to build boats out of twigs, grass and anything else they can find loose on the floor. They can see how they float and compare to see which design lasts longer, and how far the river will take their boat.”


5. Enjoy eating outdoors:

“I have a bag with some firewood which I can use if we’re going somewhere with a firepit and where fires are allowed. I bring marshmallows and some sticks so we can toast them. You can let the children find sticks, but I prefer to bring my own just so I know that they’re safe to eat food from.

We also always sit and eat a little picnic. If time is tight, I’ll just take our lunch and go outside, as we must eat in the day anyway. I have waterproof tarps so we can sit on the floor too.”