It’s that time of year where everywhere you look you see pumpkins! Not only do they get in the fall spirit but did you know that there are several activities you can do with a pumpkin that can help nurture your child’s development! Below are four ways that you and your child can have endless fun with just a pumpkin.
- Cut open and explore!
Set up: Just cut the top off your pumpkin and allow your child to explore all the gooey goodness inside!
Ways to engage: Explore the various textures that are inside your pumpkin while using all five of your senses: what do you see on the inside, what does it smell like, what sounds do you hear, what does it feel like? You can work together to separate the seeds from all the slime while encouraging your child to use just their thumb and index finger. Once you get all the seeds out, you and your child can clean them and either cook them up for a tasty snack or put them in a container and turn it into a fun sensory bin! Another tip is putting the slime inside a plastic bag for some “mess free” exploration!
The benefits: This is a great activity to encourage sensory exploration with your child! It also promotes fine motor skills by working to separate the seeds. You can also encourage language development by narrating action words such as “scoop,” “dig,” and “pull.”
2. Paint your pumpkin!
Set up: Use an empty egg carton or paper plate to provide a small amount of paint. You can use paint brushes, a sponge or just your fingers! If your child is not a fan of getting messy, stickers are a great alternative!
Ways to engage: Invite your child to paint and create their pumpkin with you! While painting you can narrate what colors you are using and experiment with mixing multiple colors together. Allow your child to paint freely and use their imagination to transform their pumpkin into a masterpiece! When they’re done you can let it dry and set outside or expand the play and take your pumpkin to a “washing station” to rinse and start again!
The benefits: Allowing your child to paint freely is a great way to promote your child’s self expression while also encouraging exploratory play. This is a great way to support your child’s imitation and fine motor skills while also having some fun with color recognition.
3. Make pumpkin drums!
Set up: Wooden spoon or stick and pumpkins of different sizes.
Ways to engage: Encourage your child to explore the different sounds they can make when they use the spoon or stick to hit the pumpkins that are different sizes. You can sing your child’s favorite song while tapping along on the pumpkin or you can work on “go” and “stop” when tapping the pumpkin with your child.
The benefits: This activity supports your child’s cognitive skills while using cause and effect to discover what different sounds they can make as well as working on following one or two step directions. You can also support your child’s concept knowledge while comparing the different sizes of your pumpkins.
4. Bring your pumpkin to life!
Set up: Clean the inside of a pumpkin and carve out a “door” and some “windows” (it doesn’t have to be anything fancy!) Collect any of your child’s pretend play items you have around your home. Some ideas are dolls, animals, cars/trucks, or body parts from Mr. Potato Head.
Ways to engage: Engage in pretend play with your child using their toys and the pumpkin. Transform your pumpkin into a castle for their dolls, a fire station for their trucks, or a cave for their animals. Or you can use Mr. Potato Head body parts to give your pumpkin a face and pretend to feed them or explore different emotions with your child.
The benefits: This is a great activity to promote symbolic play with your child! You can encourage your child to link two or three actions during their play through modeling. If you want to use Mr. Potato Head pieces you can incorporate identifying body parts and their function by asking your child, “how can we help our pumpkin see/hear/smell/taste?”
The list doesn’t stop here! Get creative and think outside of the box for more ways you and your child can have fun with a pumpkin! Remember that the most important thing is that you are engaged and playing with your child. While this is happening, they will always be learning!
Brooke Chelew MS, DT
Photo Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via GettyImages.com