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10 Fun Fall Activities for 1-3 Year Olds

Summer is winding down and the weather is cooling off, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying happy toddler playtime with your little ones. There are tons of easy crafts, outdoor adventures, and other engaging activities for young toddlers that you can continue to share with your kids well after Labor Day.

The most important thing to keep in mind when coming up with fall activities for toddlers is that they should be safe for kids who still tend to try and put everything in their mouths. If an activity helps develop fine motor skills or gross motor skills, so much the better! They should also be easy for you, and above all, fun!

We've put together a few ideas below that are simple, low-cost, and won’t take you a ton of time to set up. They’re safe for tiny tots and can also be enjoyed by older siblings.

10 Creative Fall Activities for Toddlers

These activities are great for introducing your little ones to the shapes and colors of fall, while also improving gross motor skills. Get your older kids involved by having them help you make or set up the fall activities for 1 year olds. Older kids can also help younger siblings explore different textures.

Fall-Themed Sensory Items

Sensory play involving bags, boxes, and bottles is easy to set up and super safe for little hands and mouths. Very young children will do best with sealed bottles and bags, while older kids can safely explore items in a cardboard box or sensory bin.

Bags

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Fill a Ziploc or other sealable plastic bag with seeds, leaves, paint, and other different materials to let your 1-year-old or toddler explore the colors and different textures of fall safely and without making a mess. Some fall things that work really well in a sensory bag include pumpkin puree, dried leaves, cut-out fall shapes like turkeys and scarecrows, and fall-colored glitter.

Make sure the bag is well sealed and strong enough that little fingers and teeth can’t tear through it.

Bottles

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Sensory bottles are less texturally interesting, but they are great for helping young children to develop visual tracking skills and hand-eye coordination. Fill a bottle two-thirds of the way full with a viscous liquid like clear glue or soap. Add bright, visually appealing items like glitter, fall shapes, or leaves. You can also add items that might produce an interesting sound.

Show your child that shaking or tipping the bottle causes the items to move. As with sensory bags, always make sure the bottle is well sealed. You may even want to put some glue around the lid to prevent spills. 

Baskets

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Older toddlers will enjoy exploring items in a box or basket. Just make sure the items are safe for them to handle or put into their mouths. To get older kids involved, have them help you collect items for the basket from around the yard or during a hike.

Bins

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A sensory bin is a fun sensory experience and safe for kids of all ages, as long as the ingredients used to make it are edible-safe. Some of our favorite fall-themed sensory bin items include dry oatmeal, apples, cheerios, fake or real leaves, cinnamon sticks, and small pumpkins or gourds. You can use plastic bins or cardboard boxes for your sensory bin.

Hiking

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Hiking is one of the best fall activities for toddlers! It’s free and requires no additional setup. The leaves are changing, the weather is changing, animal behavior is changing: put simply, there’s a lot to teach your little one about the world during this time of year.

Take a walk around the neighborhood and point out the new colors. You can also collect leaves for a collage or sensory box project. Feeling ambitious? Take a day trip out to a local park or forest or turn your hike into a scavenger hunt. Just make sure to bring plenty of snacks and water!

Water Activities

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Just because summer is over, doesn’t mean the sprinklers and swimsuits have to go away! Many places in the US experience long summers and hot falls. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where summer weather continues into the fall, take advantage of every sunny day you can get!

If you can’t—take the water fun inside! Who says you can’t wear a swimsuit in the shower or bathtub? Make bathtime a learning experience with toy cars or sensory bags and bottles, or find colorful, fall-themed bath toys to bring the outside fall colors inside. Glow lights and plastic spiders turn bathtime into a spooky Halloween adventure!

Scavenger Hunts

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Scavenger hunts are so much fun for a busy toddler! You can set up a fall scavenger hunt inside your house or in the backyard—or, if you’re feeling daring, set it up around the neighborhood or on a favorite hiking trail! This printable fall scavenger hunt will encourage your kids to get outside and explore the world during this special time of year. It includes pictures and words so little kids and big kids can enjoy it together.

Fall Art Projects

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The bold, beautiful colors of fall are a wonderful inspiration for art projects. Use the leaves and other items you collect during your hikes or scavenger hunts to make beautiful, fall-colored collages.

Other fun fall painting ideas are handprint turkeys or leaves, painted pumpkins, or leaf stencils. You can also make fall crafts like Jello-O monster eyeballs, edible playdough, or collages made from edible-safe scented items like cinnamon sticks, apple Cheerios, or nuts.

Fall Baking

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Fall is the best time of year for baking. Cookies, pies, holiday treats—the list goes on! Get your little ones involved by letting them help you stir, add ingredients, or taste test. Pouring ingredients, mixing, and stirring all improve gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. Getting your kids involved in food preparation and cooking early on is also a great way to build crucial life skills.

Some of our favorite fall treats include chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon snickerdoodles, granola, pumpkin muffins, and apple cinnamon french toast. You could also use baking time to make play dough (see below.)

Fall-Themed Saltdough Keepsakes

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Saltdough is an edible-safe, easy-to-make play dough that dries hard and can be used to make keepsakes. It requires just three ingredients: salt, flour, and water, and is ready in less than thirty minutes.

Older kids can get involved in making the dough, and will learn a whole slew of useful skills in doing so, including measuring ingredients, basic math, and fine motor skills. Young kids will be able to safely play with the resulting play dough, improving their gross motor skills, and kids of all ages will enjoy creating fall shapes like pumpkins, leaves and turkeys.

The best part? When they dry, the keepsakes can be turned into holiday ornaments or gifts for friends and family, or used in a sensory bin.

Summing It Up

Fall toddler activities are great for introducing your little ones to the shapes, colors, and textures of fall while helping develop fine motor skills. They are also a fun way to involve older kids in their siblings’ physical development.

Combine some of these activities for a full day of fall-themed happy toddler playtime: for example, gathering leaves during a hike to make a collage, or creating a sensory bin or bottle.

What are some of your favorite autumn activities? We’d love to hear about them!

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