13 frightfully fun things to try this autumn

Our volunteers make some spooky suggestions for autumn activities

Helen, Girlguiding digital team
26 October 2018

(Orginally published 2018 - updated October 2020)

As the days are getting colder and darker, wrap up warm and embrace the autumn with these seasonal suggestions.

Take inspiration from celebrations like Halloween, All Saints Day and Bonfire Night when looking for activities in the coming, colder, months. 

We asked a group of our volunteers for their favourite ways to add some seasonal (pumpkin) spice to the fun. Check out their suggestions in our list of 13 frightfully fun activity ideas for girls to try at home or out and about.

1. Go on a bat walk

Whether you think they’re cute or creepy, now’s a great time to spot bats before they go into hibernation in November. See if there are any bat walks happening in your area or if you're lucky you might even spot one in your garden (if you have one)! If you're not able to get out for a walk, you can learn more about bats on The Bat Conservation Trust website

Guide leader Tegan went bat-spotting with The Bat Conservation Trust

We took our Guides along to Heaton Park and had a fantastic volunteer speaker who told us all about the different bats in the UK and showed us pictures of bats worldwide. We got to see a bat in the volunteer's hands (one that can't fly due to a cat attack so now has to live with humans) and the girls really enjoyed the opportunity to see one close up. - Tegan, 1st Didsbury Guides

2. No tricks, just treats

Encourage girls to take inspiration from all the sweet treats available at this time of year. They can try making their own and add a seasonal twist with the Confectionery interest badge (Guides). 

3. Make a leaf rainbow 

Trees are a riot of reds, golds, greens and yellows in October. See how many different colours you can find and make a leaf rainbow before they disappear for the winter.

4. Spooky scavenger hunt

Hide treats around your house and give girls spooky clues to try and find them. 

5. Sweet and spooky

Guide leader Emma loves making halloween-themed cake pops. Girls can get creative making tiny pumpkins and adding scary faces to their tasty cakes.

6. Dress it up

Explore everything that’s excellent about autumn with a virtual fancy-dress party with family, friends or your unit. Think about how your costume will look on screen - which bits do you want to focus on?

Older girls can explore the idea of costume further with the Costume interest badge (Rangers).

7. Carving out fun

Pumpkin carving is a classic autumnal activity but can be tricky for younger girls. We loved leader Alice’s idea for ‘pumpkin not-carving’:

We got mini pumpkins and made faces with upholstery pins just pushed in.

Or try decorating your pumpkins with paper and paint.

8. Face painting fun

Your imagination can run wild with face paints as you have loads of fun turning yourself into a scary monster, smiling skull or any other creepy creature you can dream up! Our face painting activity contains all the hints and tips you need to give this a try.

9. Which witch?

For older girls, it can be a great time to learn about the history of Halloween and the true stories behind historical witch hunts.

Liz Morgan suggests that girls 'look at historical accusations of witchcraft; who was accused of it, was there anything in it or was it just a way of attacking particular women - and then compare that to the way that women are portrayed in the media in the present day.' Girls interested in history or exploring the media can take it further with their Media critic badge (Gudies) or Local history badge (Brownies).

Girls in Rangers might be interested in learning about the pagan festival that inspired our modern Halloween, Samhain.

10. Autumn al fresco eating 

Don't let the weather put you off - take dinner outdoors! Hot soup in flasks, jacket potatoes and hot chocolate will all warm you from the inside.

Rangers can take it further by making their own recipe book with the Cooking interest badge while Guides can try cooking outdoors with the Backwoods cooking interest badge

11. Create creatures

Get creepy and crafty like the 1st Hampton Rainbows. They made ghouls out of household recycling. With a little bit of creativity and some googly eyes, egg boxes became bats, milk cartons turned into ghosts and toilet rolls were transformed into mummies! 

12. In the dark

Embrace the darker days by turning off the lights, giving girls a torch and getting them to find things around their home. One Rainbows leader tried turning off the lights and giving girls torches to light their way. They had fun searching their venue for owls, bats and cats with glow in the dark eyes. Make sure you check for trip hazards before you start! 

13. Skull skills

Introduce girls to the Mexican festival Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which takes place in October. This colourful festival is known for its sweet decorated sugar skulls. In Kat’s unit a favourite activity for this time of year is decorating skulls made from air drying clay.