The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is weighing approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. That means wider protection against coronavirus and the Delta variant is on the horizon. In the meantime, kids still need to be kids, and family activities are still important, especially if kids may be missing out (again) on some of their favorite fall events.
As you make your plans for fall fun, be sure you take precautions to protect yourself, your family and those around you while the under-12 crowd is still unvaccinated. Wear a face mask and maintain proper social distancing when appropriate, wash your hands, and keep the hand sanitizer at the ready when soap and water aren’t readily available.
What are some safe fall activities to do with unvaccinated kids?
Here are a five ways to safely celebrate autumn.
1. Peruse a pumpkin patch.
From haunted hayrides and dizzying corn mazes to the thrill of the hunt for that perfect future jack-o-lantern, nothing says fall like a visit to a local pumpkin patch or farm. Just be sure to do a little advance planning. They likely have COVID-19 measures in place, and some may require reservations or timed-entry.
- Call or check websites ahead of time to confirm COVID-19 procedures and precautions. It’s also a good idea to ask how crowds and social distancing are monitored. Make sure your little ones are aware of what they can expect, and what’s expected of them, before you visit.
- If possible, visit during non-peak hours.
- Always bring your mask and hand sanitizer.
2. Create a fall nature scavenger hunt.
An outdoor scavenger hunt is not only a great way to get kids engaged in an activity, it also provides the opportunity to exercise and explore nature. Send them on the hunt for everything from pine cones and multi-colored leaves to animal tracks and pumpkin-shaped clouds. Channel your inner Etsy and make your own checklist or turn to Google for loads of printable resources.
3. Take a fall hike.
Autumn is the ideal time to hit the trail, Pacific Northwest weather permitting. Be sure to pick a trek that’s suitable for the whole family and check trail conditions before you lace up your boots. AllTrails has you covered.
Keep kids motivated and moving, plan on some age-appropriate fun and games. I Spy, Follow the Leader and the Alphabet Game are just a few options.
4. Set up an outdoor harvest festival.
Kids may be missing out on traditional seasonal events. Why not create some fall fun at home? Convert your backyard or driveway into a mini-harvest festival. Here are a few ideas:
- Spooky story time
- Mini-pumpkin hunt
- Pumpkin carving/decorating
- Fall-themed obstacle course, including a jump-worthy leaf pile
- Fall craft station
If you opt to share the fun beyond your family bubble, keep group numbers small and arrange specific time slots for neighbors and friends. Between visits, clean thoroughly, and provide individual packets of supplies to limit shared contact, along with hand sanitizer and disposable masks.
5. Soak up some fall foliage.
There are plenty of ways get a front-row seat for the season’s stunning show of colors. Meander through a tree-lined neighborhood, local park or college campus, or load up the car for a day or weekend road trip.
If you’re putting in some scenic driving miles, allow for plenty of fresh air and exercise breaks. Pack a picnic to enjoy among the changing leaves.
What about masks?
We pretty much know the drill by now, but mask guidelines are always worth revisiting:
- If you’re outdoors and can socially distance, you can go without the mask.
- If you’re indoors, wear a mask. Even if you can socially distance.
- If you’re outdoors and can’t socially distance, wear your mask.
- If you or your child are around unvaccinated people, wear a mask.
Should we plan for trick-or-treating?
The Pfizer vaccine probably won’t be available for kids under 12 until late fall, but there’s a bright side for little goblins, ghosts and pirates. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against attending crowded Halloween or harvest parties, trick-or-treating outdoors in small groups is probably okay.
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