by Judy Mullican
A sure sign that fall has arrived is the appearance of pumpkins! Piles of colorful pumpkins are now displayed at produce stands, supermarkets, and other vendors. Many homes have festive displays of pumpkins, scarecrows, autumn leaves, and more. Pumpkins not only make great fall decorations, they can serve as a springboard to many fun learning activities. Here are a few to try!
Painting on Pumpkins
Set out pumpkins, paint, and paintbrushes. The children can paint the pumpkins however they like! Some may want to paint faces, but others may simply add stripes, dots, or splatters of paint. Encourage the children to use their individual creativity! For a twist on this activity, apply strips of tape or dot stickers before the children paint. When the paint dries, they can peel off the tape or stickers. Another possibility would be to offer stencils that the children can use to add designs to the pumpkins.
Painting with Pumpkins
Pumpkins can also be used as tools for painting. Mini pumpkins work well for this. The children can dip them in shallow dishes of paint and dab them on paper to create prints. Another process is to place paper in the bottom of a plastic box with a lid. Coat a mini pumpkin with paint and drop it in. Add the lid and then rock the box back and forth or shake it. Open the lid to see the design. After exploring a pumpkin inside and out, you can cut the shell into different shapes and use the pieces to make prints.
Ring the Pumpkin
Set out several pumpkins and offer some rings for tossing. If the pumpkins are large, you may want to use hoops. For smaller pumpkins, you can make rings by cutting the center from heavy paper plates or plastic lids, such as those from whipped topping. Invite the children to try to toss the rings over the pumpkins. Help them count how many rings land on each pumpkin.
Set out a pumpkin along with yarn and scissors. Invite the children to think about how much yarn it might take to reach all the way around the pumpkin. Each child can cut a piece he or she thinks will fit. The children can then try wrapping the yarn around the middle of the pumpkin. Is it too long or too short? Is anyone’s yarn just right?
Cut a hole in the top of some pumpkins and let the children help you scoop out the insides. Talk about how the pumpkins look, feel, and smell. Offer nontoxic fall flowers, dried flowers, or branches of fall leaves. The children can arrange these in the hollowed-out pumpkins to create fall decorations for the room or to set in an entrance.
Reading about Pumpkins
Gather some books about pumpkins to share with the children. Here are some to try! (Always preview books and other media before sharing them with children to be sure they are age-appropriate and align with the values and culture of the group.)
- Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
- Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills
- Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Mary Peterson and Jennifer Rofé
- From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
- Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Download songs about pumpkins, such as the following, or sing the songs below.
- “Pumpkin Patch” by Andy Z on the Pockets CD
- “Pumpkin Song” by Ellen Edson on the Family Fare: Folk Songs for Children and Their Families CD
- “That’s How a Pumpkin Grows” by Brian Vogan on the Little Songs CD
Sung to “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”
Oh, I saw a pumpkin growing on a pumpkin vine! It was big and orange and it looked so fine.
So I picked the pumpkin; now the pumpkin is all mine.
Yes, it’s pumpkin time!
Mamma cooked the pumpkin and she made a pumpkin stew.
So we called the neighbors, and they ate some too.
Oh we had such fun! We enjoyed it through and through.
Yes, it’s pumpkin time!
Sung to “Down by the Station”
Down in the pumpkin patch,
On an autumn morning,
See all the pumpkins,
Growing on a vine!
Short ones and round ones,
Tall ones and skinny ones.
I’ll pick this one to be mine!