When the comforting smell of fallen leaves begins permeating the air, and cozy sweaters start leaving hibernation, students and program directors alike can’t help but feel excitement for the coming holidays and seasonal events autumn has in store for them.
To help you make families engaged and joyful this season, here are 15 fall event ideas to host at your school, from numerous pumpkin-related activities to sack racing and leaf marshmallow roasting.
- Pumpkin Carving
- Ring Tossing Using Pumpkins
- Bowling With Pumpkins
- Pumpkin Rolling
- Spoon Racing With Pumpkin Seeds
- Apple Bobbing
- Marshmallow Roasting
- Leaf Pile Racing
- Sack Racing
- Obstacle Course Racing
- Scavenger Hunting
- Short Story Writing
- Scarecrow Decorating
- Mask Making
- Halloween Costume Contest
The tradition of making jack-o-lanterns began in 19th-century Ireland and has remained a family favorite ever since, although the preferred recipient of the carving has shifted from turnips to pumpkins, becoming much less terrifying in the process.
Source: Smithsonian Mag
Pumpkins are in season this time of year and, provided that children are old enough to use carving knives with adult supervision, pumpkin carving is an excellent school event idea for the fall.
It gives children an opportunity to express themselves and tap into their artistic side. They can create scary faces, sad faces, funny faces, or whatever most pleases them.
Not to mention, they’ll learn the payoff of hard work. Cleaning a pumpkin of its seeds and insides takes time and is no easy task.
So, let the children express themselves—but make sure to provide a safe environment and have an adult help them.
Ring Tossing Using Pumpkins
This is a fun game for both kids and adults. Set down a pumpkin at a distance, around 10-15 steps away.
The older the kids, the further the pumpkin. If it turns out that the game is too hard or too easy, you can always adjust it.
The goal is to throw hula hoops around the pumpkin. Consider splitting a group into three teams of 5 or fewer.
Each team gets 15 throws, and the team with the most successful tosses wins the game.
People will be able to engage in some friendly competition and practice their precision. And with a pumpkin as the focus, this game will definitely bring out the autumnal spirit.
Bowling With Pumpkins
This fall school event idea is basically bowling, except it takes place outside and instead of balls, the kids use miniature pumpkins, small enough so they can grip them in one hand.
Grab 10 bowling pins and set them up about 15 feet away from the children. Then have children bowl miniature pumpkins at the pins and keep score like you would in real bowling.
If you want to make the game more challenging, you could also use full-size pumpkins and have the children bowl with two hands.
If you like fall activities that get everyone moving, pumpkin rolling is another excellent school event idea.
The concept is simple—children roll pumpkins to a finish line you’ve marked with either chalk, string, two cones, or anything that’ll make a distinctive line.
This will eliminate debates about whether the line was reached or not.
Unlike bowling, which we’ve described in the previous section, the children roll the pumpkins with consecutive pushes, following it like one would a wheelbarrow.
Source: Manchester Evening News
To expand upon the game, children could also be required to roll the pumpkin back from the finish line to win the game.
In any case, everybody loves a race, so this is bound to be a popular activity with your students.
Spoon Racing With Pumpkin Seeds
The traditional game of spoon racing is usually done with an egg. To stick to the fall theme—and make cleanup easier afterwards—exchange that egg for pumpkin seeds.
In order to play the game, place pumpkin seeds in the spoons. Children then have to race each other to the finish line without spilling pumpkin seeds.
If they drop the seeds, they are out of the race.
This is a fall school event that will have everyone out of breath, bent at their waistlines, and laughing hysterically at themselves and their fellow racers for dropping the pumpkin seeds and just looking rather ridiculous.
Speaking of looking ridiculous and having fun doing it, engage your participants in a game of apple bobbing, where kids stick their heads into a bucket of water and try to retrieve apples with nothing but their teeth.
To set this up, fill a bucket with water. Make sure the water is clean, and don’t let it get too cold, or else kids will complain about face freeze. Then, drop in some fresh apples.
Instruct the kids to stand in line. They can take turns bobbing for apples, and each one should get about a minute. The child who gets the most apples in a minute wins.
To spice up the game, consider adding multiple types of apples into the mix and assign each one a different number of points.
For example, granny smiths could be worth one point, red delicious two points, and so on. This makes the game a bit more strategic.
To enhance any of these games, consider giving prizes to the winners. Fall treats like candy corn or candied apples are usually coveted prizes for kids.
Roasting marshmallows around a firepit and using them to make s’mores is a favorite fall tradition.
Families and kids will love doing this as a school event, especially when the temperature cools down to a refreshing chill.
To make s’mores, load up on graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, preferably bars that you can break into smaller pieces.
Hershey’s bars are classic and work perfectly for this purpose.
If you want to shine in the kids’ eyes, teach them how to slightly melt the chocolate by resting it on one of the hot rocks surrounding the firepit. They’ll love this.
Also, don’t forget to provide some marshmallow sticks for roasting.
Parents will appreciate the cleanliness of these tools compared to using sticks kids find on the ground or cut off a tree or shrub.
Leaf Pile Racing
Leaf pile racing is another great game-oriented event to host at your school in the fall.
It involves placing a hula hoop on the ground to indicate where children should pile up the leaves.
Then, give children a certain time limit (10-20 minutes), to see who can create the biggest leaf pile using the surrounding leaves and rakes.
Not only will this game make life easier for your groundskeeper, but it will also turn this chore into a game in the children’s minds, making them more likely to want to do it at home—which is something busy parents will surely appreciate.
After inspecting the leaf piles and selecting a winning team, you could even let the kids jump in the leaf pile—they’ll just love it!
However, before you settle on this activity, it would be best to check that you don’t live in an area with a significant tick population.
And even then, instruct the parents to check their children for ticks afterwards for safety.
Sack racing is a funny and exhilarating fall event to host at your school. Children step into large burlap sacks and hop their way to a finish line while racing other children.
Source: Premier Bounce Slide
The kids stumble, fall, and giggle as they race, and the winner gets a fun prize at the end. For quality potato sacks, check out these ones from LA linen.
Set up the finish line at least fifty feet away from the starting point. You can push it back if the games end too quickly.
Obstacle Course Racing
Combine a bunch of games together and create a fall-themed obstacle course.
Teams can race through leaf piles and around pumpkins, and do various activities like spoon races, apple-bobbing, and sack racing.
You can do this as a relay, with each kid responsible for a different part of the race. You can either put them in a specific station or let them work it out together.
You could also make it a true obstacle course with fall-themed items that obstruct the path of the children. In this case, it would be every kid for him or herself.
Children would have to avoid pumpkins, Halloween decorations, and leaf piles as they race to the finish line.
Races are exciting in their own right, but you could consider giving out prizes for the winners, such as a sweet treat or even a gift card to a local bookshop, toy store, or bakery.
And since school events often double as fundraising opportunities, this can be a great way to partner with local businesses and make your future efforts that much easier.
A scavenger hunt is a fantastic way to entertain the kids at a fall school event. Treat it like an easter egg hunt, but fall-themed.
Hide items, tickets, or perhaps stuffed mini ghosts around the schoolyard, or even in a decorated haunted house in the gym or auditorium.
Hide the items in pumpkins, leaf piles, scarecrows, Halloween decorations, and other autumnal items.
To get the kids excited for the hunt, tell them they can trade in their findings for prizes, such as sweet treats or fun Halloween decorations.
Use the ticket system and get creative with the prizes.
For example, kids can win a disco ball for five tickets, a bag of candy for three, and a Halloween mask for two.
Short Story Writing
Some kids may be introverted or simply less athletic, so they may not enjoy the more outdoorsy activities that have dominated this list as much.
This activity ensures that even the kids with primarily artistic preferences have fun at your event.
To give them an opportunity to shine, ask the kids to write fall-themed short stories and then read them out loud, perhaps around a campfire.
This is a chance for kids to be silly, imaginative, and perhaps even a tad poetic.
Writing short stories can be tricky, so to get the creative juices flowing, give the kids the option to use prompts as starting points.
For example, you could have them write a story about a turkey who learns to talk or a friendly ghost’s first day at a new school.
If the event takes place close to Halloween, have the kids create spooky stories about ghosts, monsters, and other classic characters of the genre.
For all you know, you might inspire the next Shirley Jackson or Stephen King.
Speaking of creative activities, scarecrow-making and decorating is a blast. Kids get to bring a stack of old clothes to life by filling them with hay.
They can even top them with a carved pumpkin for a head.
To be educational, you could even teach the kids about the history of scarecrows and farming in your region.
You can provide old clothes yourself or ask parents to bring tattered clothing that is beyond repair and out of the running for donation, like painting shirts or ripped pants.
Source: Country Living
Jeans and long sleeve flannel shirts are the most traditional pieces, but feel free to push scarecrow dress code boundaries and get wild.
Kids will love creating these sworn enemies of crows and other birds.
In the spirit of Halloween, children can decorate simple masks made of paper, turning themselves into ghouls, mummies, princesses, or superheroes.
Source: mer mag
Mask-making is such a blast for children, especially those with a creative spark. Even better, the kids will be able to add to the costumes they may have already picked out for Halloween.
And they’ll have a lot of fun wearing the masks and role-playing after designing them.
For some mask ideas you can recommend to your guests, here are 24 easy DIY Halloween masks that work for both kids and adults.
Halloween Costume Contest
Encourage the guests to dress up in their costumes and come to your event, where judges will nominate finalists and a winner of a Halloween costume contest.
This is a great way to allow kids to express themselves and play dress up. To make it more interesting, you could also have different categories of awards.
For example, you might have different awards for the scariest, most creative, and most original costumes.
That way there will be more winners of the prizes.
If parents are coming to the event, ask them to dress up as well and give out awards the whole family will enjoy, like coupons to family-friendly restaurants or the movies.
Whether it’s a costume party or a pumpkin rolling contest, running fall-themed school events is a great way for school and after-school program directors to thrill and excite their guests.
It’s also one of many effective ways to fundraise for your school.
The families and kids you serve will leave the event happy and thankful for the experience, and your team will leave with some funny, cute stories to share.