One of the best things about fall for families is that many of the most fun activities to get your kids excited about the season are outdoors and interactive -- everything from picking apples and pumpkins to raking piles of leaves to jump in, and even just going for walks and hikes to enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn.

Another interactive activity for you and your kids is building a scarecrow. It's not hard to do, so even your littlest kids can help out, and it's easily customized for anything your kids are interested in, so even your oldest kids won't lose interest.

It's also a great educational opportunity. Especially for kids who live in the city or suburbs, scarecrows are mostly just decorative, so building one can be a fun opportunity to teach kids that scarecrows serve a purpose as well, in (hopefully!) scaring away birds from farmers' crops before they're harvested.

While you're in the process of building your scarecrow, you and your kids can brainstorm what features to add that would work the best at scaring away birds.

You could also take a drive to seek out scarecrows that may be in farmers' fields, and, even if you don't find any scarecrows, talking about the crops that are still in the fields, and maybe even seeing some of them being harvested, can be a great experience for kids.

Of course you can build your scarecrow at home and use it in your own garden or display it on your own porch.

Or, if you work quickly, you could show off your mad scarecrow-building skills in public. Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha has a scarecrow-building competition as a part of its Apple Harvest Festival on September 17. If you're interested in participating, you need to register by Wednesday the 14th. You'll be able to pick up your scarecrow assembly packet from the nature center, and after building your scarecrow, you can head to the nature center to set it up Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Then the scarecrows will be displayed in all their glory at the festival on Saturday.

They'll also be judged. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories -- best use of natural materials, most likely to scare off crows, and best apple theme.

If you're unable to get a scarecrow built this week, think about taking your kids out to see them on display at the Apple Harvest or afterward as they'll be on display through the middle of October, and will still be there for the October 14 Howl-o-ween event.

However you decide to integrate scarecrows into your family's activities this year, make sure to celebrate fall!

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