Back in September, Travis and I set the goal of a Fall Bucket List of items to enjoy in the 90 days between the first of autumn and the first of winter. Below is our journey through all 23 items. If you followed along with your own bucket list, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
9/29 – Visit a Sculpture Garden
We made this our first stop, exploring the grounds of a local museum that houses a wonderful sculpture scavenger hunt for children. Travis was delighted he could finish rhymes like that/hat and known/stone to find each sculpture along the way. We explored materials, emotions, shapes and more in the works of art that we found. It was a beautiful 70 degree day with no real change to the leaves yet, so definitely still early autumn.
10/1 – Make a Scarecrow from Daddy’s Clothes
It was a crisp fall morning that turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon, so we checked our way through a whole bunch on our Bucket List this day. To start, we stuffed daddy’s shirt and shorts with newspaper for a scarecrow in anticipation of…
10/1 – Go to a Pumpkin Patch
….heading to a local farm to pick pumpkins! Travis was so proud helping to select four pumpkins, one of which was perfect for finishing off that scarecrow as the head. We set the other three aside for decorating later on…
10/1 – Go on a Hay Ride
The pumpkin farm also included a hay ride, one of the first we encountered over the season whose name I would dispute slightly. This one was a flatbed pulled by a tractor, with a line of hay down the middle. We later rode on one billed as a “hay ride” that was merely a covered wagon pulled by a tractor, not a hay bale in sight! Ah well, the hay ride counted as an experience, and we checked it off on our list.
10/1 – Corn Maze
We finished off our pumpkin patch day with a walk through the corn maze, Travis proudly pointing the way at each intersection. Talk about tricky; I followed along on the map, and when I thought we were in the middle of the maze, it turns out we were right back where we had started!
10/4 – Drink Fancy Coffee Drinks
The weather was staying unseasonably warm, but that didn’t stop us (er, Mom and Dad) from craving cozy coffee drinks. I use the term coffee loosely here, since you’ll want a seasonal drink for your child with no caffeine. I had hoped to treat Travis to a pumpkin-flavored steamed milk, but upon learning that the pumpkin mix is not vegan, we settled for an almond milk vanilla steamer. His first ever Starbucks drink!
10/7 – Apple Picking
Apple picking day! Travis loved filling up a bag with plump Jonagolds at a farm that included another hay ride (“hay ride”) and a big red barn selling roasted corn and other fall treats. What did we do with all those apples? We ate apple crisp (simply use olive oil in place of butter to make the recipe vegan), applesauce, and enjoyed lots of apples out of hand just for snacking.
10/12 – Paint Faces on Acorns
This suggestion was cute and quirky, and as luck would have it, a walk in the woods resulted in acorns of varying sizes so we could make a “family.” Travis loved figuring out which acorn was the daddy, mommy, brother, and baby, and then decided we needed to dress them with paint. He had so much fun picking out the colors – a blue shirt and pink “hat” for the daddy and so on. Painting tiny faces was a challenge for his fine motor skills, but to my surprise he insisted on being part of it.
10/13 – Watch Youth Soccer Game
This was unexpectedly my very favorite item on the list, as it wasn’t something I would have thought to do. On a random afternoon, Travis and I headed to the local high school to cheer on the team despite knowing none of the players. Travis proudly sipped apple cider and loved watching the referees blow their whistles. Plus it felt good to have some hometown pride!
10/14 – Have a Popcorn Party
I originally had grand plans when I put this on our Bucket List, envisioning an event where we might invite over family and friends, ask guests to bring a favorite popcorn recipe, string up popcorn garlands, and make popcorn balls. Our weekends filled up fast though, so we checked this one off our list in much simpler, quieter fashion; on a dreary Saturday afternoon, we made it movie-and-popcorn-party-day just for the family. This meant Travis got to select a film to rent, and I whipped up the easiest fall-spiced popcorn ever: Sprinkle a bag of popped plain popcorn with salt and pumpkin pie spice, then toss to coat.
10/17 – Winter Prep! Buy Coats and Boots
This first truly chilly day, midway through the season, reminded us to get to the winter prep item on our list! Travis was so proud helping to pick out his new coat and mittens. The mittens were such a hit that he insisted on wearing them right away, even though it wasn’t quite that cold. It felt nice to be prepared and ahead of the game… But I was also happy to hang up the heavy new coat and get back to enjoying the fall!
10/18 – Make Fall Placemats
The leaves were slow to change this year, giving us more muted yellows than vibrant oranges and shocking reds. But we still collected leaves on our walks, which allowed us to make these placemats. Simply arrange leaves between two sheets of wax paper, then iron to seal.
10/19 – Make Leaf Art
Leaf rubbing never grows old, the magic of watching bumpy veins appear through paper with a crayon. For more complicated leaf art, we turned some of the leaves into “leaf glitter,” made big pools of glue, and sprinkled on this “confetti.”
10/19 – Nature Walk with Camera
After that busy morning of leaf art, we headed off on another nature walk, this one an assignment from Travis’s nursery school teacher! (Yup, I’m the dorky mom who loves homework). This time we brought along the instant camera. Travis loved taking snaps of our favorite finds, including bugs, leaves, spider webs, and more.
10/26 – Make Fall Cookies
We went a long stretch without bucket listing, thanks to a weekend away and a busy school week. But after school we decided it was time to get back in the swing of things with fall cookies. We decided our fall cookies had to have pumpkin in them, but if other fall flavors are your thing, consider sugar cookies cut with a leaf-shaped cutter, or maple cookies, or whatever else says fall to you!
10/27 – Carve a Pumpkin
The big moment finally arrived: Pumpkin carving day! Travis and I have decorated pumpkins before, but this was the first year we got in there with a carving knife, and man oh man did he love it. I remember that fascination when pumpkin’s stem lines up with the jagged top of a jack-o-lantern like a puzzle piece. And the joy of scooping pumpkin guts. And the glee of seeing the lit up face once a candle (aka battery-powered tea light) is inside. In sum, all the spooky magic of Halloween.
10/29 – Make Caramel Apples
Well, here’s the one thing on the list we didn’t truly accomplish; after two failed attempts at making caramel, I had to accept that this one wasn’t in the cards, due to a faulty old thermometer which wasn’t reading the temperature of my caramel correctly. So we coated our apples in a sticky glaze, but the result wasn’t what we hoped for. Next year!
10/31 – Trick-or-Treat
No explanation needed! Travis was a NAVY Leap Frog parachuter, and loved every minute. His favorite candy this year? Twizzlers!
11/4 – Photo Shoot in a Leaf Pile
We were into November, and winding down our Bucket List. By now the leaves were really on the ground, so it was leaf pile time! We don’t have trees around our apartment property, but that didn’t stop us from filling a large trash bag in the local park, bringing it home, and creating a leaf pile off our patio!
11/11 – Make Pomander Balls
I intended to save this drop in our Bucket for a Thanksgiving decoration, but Travis asked for it one morning while we were tucked in from an early arctic blast. This simple pomander uses large citrus (we used grapefruit), cloves, and ribbon. Travis loved the materials involved, happily turning the clove spice can into a musical shaker while I prepped the grapefruit: Draw lines in any pattern that you want using a washable marker. Use a toothpick to make holes evenly spaced along the lines, then wash your citrus to remove the marker. Insert a clove into each toothpick hole you’ve made. Cut a length of ribbon and wrap up the citrus as you would a present. For a lovely touch, knot a cinnamon stick at the top.
11/12 – Write Name in Leaves
It never hurts to throw a little learning into the fall fun. Name recognition is a key skill for preschoolers, so with leaves from (yet another!) fall walk in the woods, I spelled out T-r-a-v-i-s on a large piece of contact paper. Fold the paper over to seal the leaves between the sticky sheets, and your child has a beautiful poster with their name!
11/20 – Walk Around Town and Get Cocoa
By now we were in late fall (that winter coat has come out of the closet!) and checking off the final items on our list. Town was already brimming with Christmas decorations which made it the perfect time to check out the décor. Travis was gleeful to spot reindeer in one shop window, and loved cupping his hands around his warm cocoa.
11/22 – Bake a Pie
Just in time for Thanksgiving, we put the final check mark on our Bucket List, baking a fresh pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. My little helper had way more fun nibbling on extra ginger cookies for the crust than he did in stirring together the ingredients, though!
Even though there’s technically a full month of autumn left on the calendar, it felt appropriate to end our Fall Bucket List here. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, we’ll no doubt turn out attention to winter-y Christmas fun. Which reminds me, perhaps we’ll need an advent Bucket List to take us through December…
Thanks for coming on the journey with us!