On a windy day, have everyone try to catch leaves as they fall, calling out the color of the leaf before grabbing it. The person who can score five leaves first wins the game. (If it's not windy, have a grown-up throw leaves in the air; little ones will love helping with this job, too.)
Leaf through it
Before heading inside, collect a pile of colorful, newly fallen leaves (dry ones will crumble) for these classic crafts: Make a place mat by arranging leaves between two sheets of clear contact paper; use scissors to trim the edges. Create stamp art by applying water-based paint to the veined (back) side of a leaf and pressing it onto construction paper. Or place double-sided tape on the back of your finds and let toddlers stick them onto a window.
Try a scary snack
Sustain hungry goblins with creepy centipedes, made by sticking crunchy chow mein noodles on both sides of a string-cheese stick. For a sweet spider, insert four two-inch "legs" of thin licorice pieces into the sides of a cupcake. Add Red Hots or M&M's to the frosting for eyes.
Liven up meals
Food that stares back at you shouldn't be a once-a-year occasion. Sliced black olives can turn a mini-pizza into a jack-o'-lantern; smiley-face peas can perk up mashed potatoes.
Have a ball
Create festive bowling pins by painting ten empty one-liter soda or water bottles with orange poster paint. When they're dry, use black paint to add jack-o'-lantern faces. Then line them up, grab a ball, and let the game begin.
Feed the birds
Tie a long string or ribbon around a pinecone and then slather it with peanut butter. Roll it in seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) and hang it up from a tree branch or clothesline. Watch the birds dig in!
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Learning these 10 things is a good base with which to begin the tough preteen and teen years. Helping our children maneuver life is our jobs as parents, even if we haven't quite figured it all out ourselves yet.
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