‘Tis the season for big beautiful pumpkins! October is the perfect month for visiting pumpkin patches and choosing the perfect orange symbol for the Fall season. If you can’t make it to a pumpkin patch many local markets have them all out for display for you to choose. Picking out a pumpkin, whether it be at a patch or at a market, is a memorable event for young children. As parents we have can use this annual event to support overall learning. Children can experience the wonders of pumpkins while we facilitate development in all domains. Here are a few ways to highlight learning with pumpkins:
Selecting the pumpkin:
- Talk about the different colors, shapes, sizes.
- Focus on small details like where the pumpkin rested on its side in the pumpkin patch. Is the stem spiky or smooth? Is the outer skin bumpy, soft, rough, etc?
- Guess the weight of the pumpkin.
- How many friends does it take to carry it?
Before carving the pumpkin:
- Talk about safety before carving. What kinds of tools or utensils are needed? Who is in charge of which items and who needs support or guidance.
- Discuss ideas for how to carve it. There are many design ideas that you can search for online.
- Guess how many seeds are inside. Make a chart to see who guesses the number closest to the actual number of seeds.
- How might it feel like on the inside of the pumpkin versus the outside?
- Instead of carving, talk about ideas for painting or coloring the pumpkin. Washi tape is wonderful for decorating pumpkins if you have a little bit of anxiety around the gooeyness of pumpkins.
- Use a variety of descriptive words as you work together. . .words like gooey, sticky, cold, slimy, slippery, sharp, stringy, scrapey, stinky, hollow, thick skinned, pokey, yummy, shiney, etc.
- Bake the seeds!
- What kinds of sounds do you hear as you scrape out the pumpkin or cut the skin?
- Practice fine motor skills by tracing on the pumpkin and using small pumpkin carving saws (if appropriate for your child’s small hands).
- Talk about fire safety with ideas for how to light it up. Are you going to use candles or small LED lights?
- Take a moment to stand back and admire the finished pumpkin. Have a conversation with your child about which part of the process you are most proud of, which part was the slimiest, is there anything else we should add to the pumpkin, what part would we like to change for next year, what do you think neighbors might notice first about the pumpkin, etc.
The Parenting Hub would love to hear from you and your pumpkin carving traditions. Please send your stories and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org