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Get Outside! Ideas for 5 Weekends of Outdoor Fun

You’ve cracked the windows to tempt in the autumn breeze, but instead, the crisp air is tempting you out. For the five weekends of October, KC Parent is challenging your family with five outdoor assignments. Pick one each week for piles of fall family fun.



  1. Gourd your home: For a monster dose of curb appeal, frame your front door with bales of hay, corn stalks, gourds and pumpkins spilling from your entry. Get into the spirit of Halloween with a graveyard, tree-hanging ghosts and witches crashing your crib with broomsticks and striped legs protruding from planters.
  2. Stuff Scarecrows: Create your own scarecrow family in the front yard. Get creative with garb—are your scarecrows in hula skirts, conjuring your favorite TV family or donning a tin hat and ruby slippers?
  3. Visit a Pumpkin Patch: Hop on a hayride and take your pick of the patch. Once home, have a rolling pumpkins race (place pumpkins on their sides and roll them to the finish—it’s harder than you think!). To add some flair before the carving at month’s end, turn your pumpkins into makeshift Mr. Potato Heads with plastic eyes, noses and mouths from your local party supply store. Read the KC Pumpkin Patch Guide to find the best patches in town!


  1. Camp Out: Whether in your backyard or deep in back country, fall is the perfect time to pitch a tent, roll out your sleeping bags and spend a night under the stars.
  2. Visit one of Kansas City’s fall festivals. Read our guide to Kansas City's Fall Festivals for a complete list of fall festivals, and visit the Calendar of Events at the back of this magazine for great family-friendly events all month long.
  3. Bonfire: Light up your fire pit and huddle around the wafting smoke for family stories, spooky tales and the roasting of s’mores. Don’t have a fire pit? Tasha Cook, Olathe, and her kids enjoy tiny s’mores with mini-marshmallows skewered by spaghetti and burnt crisp over a candle, sandwiched with Teddy Grahams and chocolate chips.


  1. Go Apple Picking: Visit an apple orchard and bring home a fresh bushel. For a list of local orchards and ideas for apple recipes, games and crafts, read our guide to Apple Picking in Kansas City.
  2. Rake a Mountain of Leaves: Together as a family, pitch in to rake a heaping pile of leaves and compete in a leaf diving contest of belly flops, cannonballs and jump twists. When you’re finished, offer to rake a neighbor’s yard.
  3. Picnic: Pull out your favorite quilt, pack up a picnic, books and board games, and sit beneath a shade tree on a floor of speckled leaves. Give the kids a climbing boost, or just linger below and enjoy the lazy autumn day.


Break out your flashlights and round up the neighbors for a night of nocturnal games. Some classics:

  1. Werewolf: One person, the werewolf, runs and hides while the others stay put, counting from 1 to 12 o’clock. At the stroke of midnight, the werewolf howls at the moon, and the others try to tag him. Whoever tags him first becomes the next werewolf.
  2. Sardines: In a reverse hide-and-seek, one person hides, and everyone else tries to find her. As each person discovers her hiding spot, they too hide, until everyone is packed together like sardines. The last person left seeking becomes the next sardine.
  3. Firefly: The “firefly” holds a darkened flashlight and hides from the others outdoors, then turns on the flashlight for a split second, and takes off hiding again. The others count to 30, then set off to tag him. Every 60 seconds thereafter, the firefly flashes his light until he is eventually caught.
  4. Flashlight Tag: One person keeps a flashlight shining at all times in a game of tag meets hide-and-seek. The others actively hide from the person with the flashlight, who must tag them out with the beam of light while calling their name, sending them to a predetermined “jail.” The last one chased wins the flashlight for the next round.


  1. Strike a Pose: Explore Kansas City’s stunning parks and monuments (for ideas, pick up the new Fall 2011 KC Going Places magazine, or download the KC Going Places digital edition at and scout out locations for a fall family photo shoot. Use your camera’s timer option to capture your family-in-full (that’s right, Mom, first picture this year with you in it!), or bring friends along and swap taking photographs of each others’ families. You may even get your holiday cards done early.
  2. Signature Scavenger Hunt: Send your family’s budding photographers off on an alphabet scavenger hunt during your next family walk. Their mission? Find the letters of their names in nature (an “I” in a blade of grass, a tree limb letter “Y”). Print out the photos, and create a signature collage for their bedroom doors.
  3. Smile for KC Parent: Snap a photo of your family posing with an issue of KC Parent while enjoying outdoor fall fun. Share your picture on the KC Parent Magazine Facebook page.

Wendy Connelly, Overland Park, is a children’s author, blogger and mother of two growing pumpkins.


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