Executive Function Activities for Fall

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In this blog post, you’ll find executive functioning activities for Fall. This time of year is a great time to support executive functioning development. We’ve shared a lot of executive functioning tips and tricks here on the website, so why not use all of the wonder of Fall and work on skills like impulse control, attention, problem solving, task initiation, and more?

Fall executive function activities for kids

Fall is such a great time of the year! If you live in a climate like mine, from apple picking to visiting a pumpkin patch to going on a day trip to see the beautiful leaves, it’s a great time of the year to get outdoors! Fall is also a great time of year to work on executive functioning skills.

Fall Executive Functioning Activities

Fall can be an exceptionally busy time of the year. Between kids and teens settling into their school routines to fall sports, there is a lot going on. However, there are also many opportunities to work on executive functioning skills during these fun moments! Enjoy these fun, family-friendly opportunities to enjoy the fall weather!

Apple Picking Executive Function Activity

Apple picking is a fantastic family activity. Does your local orchard have a map? Have your child or teen read the map and direct the family where to go in order to get to the apples you want to pick. But how does picking apples help with skills like time management, impulse control, problem solving, etc.?

This helps develop their ability to develop a plan and execute their plan, as well as manage emotional demands, especially if younger family members become frustrated!

It can take great problem solving to find an apple that is not over-ripe, or under-ripe, that is in reach, and will fit into the bag or basket. How can you break own the task of navigating a busy row to find a tree to pick from? Then, how can you determine which tree to select? Then, can you fill your bag with apples before becoming distracted or giving up? All of these mini-decisions and repetitions in cognitive skills are practice for other tasks requiring executive functioning!

When you get home, decide on an apple recipe to make as a family! Divide roles among family members based on skill set. Have someone gather the materials (planning and organizing, working memory), read the instructions (initiation, inhibition, working memory), measure (monitoring), and so on!

Cooking is an engaging executive functioning task that supports development in many areas. To support and promote development of EF skills, try these tips:

  • Break down the task
  • Use a task tracker
  • Write down steps and cross them off as each one is completed
  • Talk it out as a group (including problem solving, what’s next, what I’m doing right now, etc.)
  • Clean up as you complete each step

Support Executive Functioning Skills at the Pumpkin Patch

A visit to a local pumpkin patch is bound to be a great day. Have your child or teen make predictions on how much specific pumpkins weigh, plan out the activities you will do (since many pumpkin patches have additional activities), and navigate the narrow rows with those cumbersome wagons! This is certainly an activity that will work up an appetite—check out these pumpkin cupcakes!

After your trip, plan out how each family member will decorate their jack-o-lantern. Whether with paint or carving, this is a favorite activity for many children that involves skills like planning, inhibition, and initiation.

Use these tips to support executive functioning skills when pumpkin carving:

  • Draw a picture of your jack-o-lantern before beginning
  • Make a list of the supplies needed
  • Cross off each supply as they are used
  • Use kid-friendly pumpkin carving tools
  • Use gloves if tactile sensory input is an issue
  • Talk it out: talk through problems as you go
  • Use a task tracker to complete each step of the process
  • Discuss possible problems that may arise while carving
  • Break the steps down
  • Take breaks between each step

Executive Functioning Activities at the Corn Maze

Another popular fall activity is a trip to a local corn maze. This can be modified based on the corn maze’s difficulty level, as well as whether the location offers a map.

You could work on things like emotional regulation (because the maze is bound to be frustrating!), planning, time management, initiation, inhibition, and so on! For younger children who might not be quite ready for a corn maze, purchase some corn and create a cool stamp art project!

Some tips to support EF challenges at the maze:

  • Be sure the maze is age-appropriate
  • Lay out ground rules
  • Go with a partner
  • Use a map if available
  • Use a marker to draw where you’ve gone on the map
  • Be ready with coping strategies for emotional needs

A final note on Fall Executive Functioning Activities

These activities show how fun and engaging it can be to work on executive functioning skills! Many of these activities also show how activities can be upgraded and downgraded based on a child’s abilities and needs.

Studies show that executive functioning skills can be a key predictor of a child’s success, especially at the middle school level. While fall is full of opportunities for fun, perhaps integrating some of these activities will encourage your child to develop their executive functioning skills so that they can be successful in all areas of their life!

Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

Fall executive function activities