What Else to Do with that Pumpkin
Pumpkin time is here! I thought of all the basics of what to do with the pumpkins outside our door: cook them; paint them; smash them; carve them. I love all of these ideas, because I just love pumpkins! Most of all I love carving pumpkins. But, having infants and toddlers around makes pumpkin carving a little more interesting, a little less mainstream, and a lot less intricate. I went from detailed mountain scene to a face that not a face at all, but more like two juxtaposed triangles and a rectangle block mouth. I thought to myself, pumpkins should be more than that… They deserve more than that! And so do the kids! This month I’m sharing four pumpkin-based projects you can do with your toddlers that support creative-free play while celebrating the season!
Tissue Paper Pumpkin
It is fun to use the same pumpkin for more than one activity, so before cutting your pumpkin allow your toddler to explore the shape and texture of it through good old fashion decoupage. Let your child create the paper shapes that will go on the pumpkin. Stars and stripes, Polk-a-dots, falls scenes-anything really. For little artists, pre- cut or shred tissue paper, newsprint, magazine clippings or other paper and let your child glue the pieces to the pumpkin. This craft can be messy, as any project with glue can be but it makes for one funky pumpkin.
After cleaning the pumpkin out, poke holes in your pumpkin using a corkscrew. Give your child chopstick and let them fill the pumpkin with chopsticks, pipe cleaner or straws. This is a great activity for children to tune their fine motor skills. For older children, you can allow them to make the whole with golf pegs and a wooden hammer. Let children slip beans into the pumpkin, finding them from the top over and over. Light this pumpkin up at night for a beautiful display!
A drip pumpkin is a fun and new way to decorate a pumpkin. They can be made two ways:
Using paint in squeeze bottles let your little one go crazy and paint that pumpkin wild! This is a fun outdoor activity and a great way to get more than one use out of your pumpkin. Give your child colors that will look nice on your pumpkin and not meld into brown. Orange and yellow on a white pumpkin is always a beautiful choice. Start from the top and let the paint roll down slowly. Sprinkle glitter to really make your pumpkin shine!
Making a drip pumpkin with melted crayons is a lot of fun, however it calls for a hair dryer. For some children this could be dangerous. Using the hair dryer or being near melting wax could cause burns. For children too small, this may be one to skip For older children, this activity is fun and simple. Glue half pieces of crayons to the top of a pumpkin around the steam, use a hair dryer to melt the wax down the pumpkin. It makes a great effect. Use compatible colors to avoid a brown or grey puddle. Let each layer dry before adding a another round of color.
Toddlers love sensory exploration. Just playing with the inside of the pumpkin is a great way for a child to explore fall. Talk about texture, slippery seeds and stringy fruit, the feel of slime. Let you child enjoy this time, many children this age often have an aversion to messy- that’s ok. Offer them gloves or tools like tongs, spoons, and tweezers to use to explore with instead of their hands. Give them a bowel to count seeds, often pre-rinsing the pumpkin will help the Youngers explore more comfortable. and that’s what we are here for, aiding in the exploration.
Exploring the nature world is innate in us; we should always make a conscious choice to allow our children the time to do so. Fall is such a beautiful time to do just that. Explore!
[Photo credit: (cc) amboo who?]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.