If campfires aren’t your thing and you won’t be venturing out to your favorite fall festivals this year, there are still lots of ways to have fun at home. Here are some ideas for giving an autumn twist to carnival games, crafts and other activities.
Pick up two orange playground cones at a dollar or discount store (7 to 9 inches tall), along with a pack of glow necklaces. Leave the cones orange or paint them to look like candy corn or witches hats if you’re going for a Halloween theme. Bonus points if you use glow-in-the-dark paint. To play, set up the two cones about 10 feet apart. One player stands by each cone. Players take turns tossing the rings to the cone across from them, scoring two points for every ringer and one point for each ring that touches or leans on a cone. First player to 21 wins.
Speaking of relays, why not get the whole family involved in an old-fashioned potato sack race? If you don’t have a potato sack, an old pillow case will do. Either race from a starting line to a finishing line or create two teams and make it a relay.
Create this classic carnival game with reused or recycled materials. You need a handful of clothespins and a gallon water or milk jug. Make it easier for younger children by choosing a receptacle with a larger opening, such as a quart-sized mason jar. Decorate your jug or jar for fall or Halloween by wrapping it in festive paper or drawing a ghost or jack-o-lantern face on it. You also can let your kids paint the clothespins. Each player takes a turn standing over the container, holding a clothespin to his or her nose and trying to drop it in, earning a point for each clothespin that goes in. Whoever gets the most points wins.
Create a tic-tac-toe board on a piece of plywood or cardboard by painting it or marking it off with tape. Paint or draw Xs and Os onto small pumpkins (you’ll need five of each). Alternatively, get five small orange pumpkins and five small white pumpkins (or gourds of different colors) to use instead of Xs and Os. Have fun playing tic-tac-toe.
You need 10 empty containers that can be stacked, such as coffee canisters or baby formula containers. Paint them orange or wrap them in orange fabric or paper and add jack-o-lantern faces. Stack them into a tower on a card table or a bale of hay. Players take turns standing behind a line and throwing a ball or bean bag at the tower to see how many they can knock down.
What kid doesn’t love to paint? Set up a table with some paints, aprons, paper and fall-themed things to paint on or with. For example, you can cut apples in half and paint with them like stamps. Or get some small pumpkins to paint — it’s much easier for young children than carving.