Thursday, September 26, 2013

3 Fun Pumpkin Activities To Do With Kids

September has flown by already! I thought we would have a little longer summer, but as soon as autumn was *officially* here on the 22nd, we were hit with chilly weather! Lucky for me, fall is my favorite season! What's there not to love about kids going back to school, the leaves changing into the prettiest of colors, and more importantly pumpkins?! I'm fortunate to have guest blogger Ryan N. blogging for me this week. Have fun with your pumpkins! My boys sure did!

In October we start seeing pumpkin pies, pumpkin flavored drinks, and of course, Jack-o’-lanterns all over.  There is no doubt that October is the pumpkin month, so why not embrace it for some family fun?  From play dough to pirates to pumpkin patches, here are 3 fun pumpkin activities and crafts that you can do with your whole family. 

Play Dough Pumpkin Faces

Jack-o’-lantern carving is a treasured Halloween tradition, but it is messy, requires sharp tools, and can only be done once per pumpkin.  If your kids try making pumpkin faces with play dough, thumb tacks, magic markers, and paper or fabric cut outs, the possibilities for each pumpkin are endless.  With these materials, your children can make as many silly, scary or angry faces as they would like.

To get started, clean all dirt and dust off of the pumpkin.  Then you can search online for jack-o’-lantern themed printables, or just create your own stencils.  You can use these to cut out colored construction paper or fabric into any shapes you would like, such as fangs, mouths ears, or eye patches.  Then, just pin them to the pumpkin using thumbtacks.  Play dough can be used to add an element of depth to the pumpkin’s features, for example, the lips or eyebrows.  Magic markers can be used to draw hair, rosy cheeks or anything else you and your children can imagine. 

Once or twice a week in the month leading up to Halloween, the whole family can make a new theme for the pumpkins, like ghosts, monsters, or cartoon characters.  To really get into the Halloween spirit, everyone can dress up for the theme.  For example, if the theme is super heroes, people can dress up in costumes, or just wear something simple, like a Spiderman T-shirt or a set of kids Superman pajamas.  Best of all, if you do this at night and the children are already in a set of fun kids pajamas everyone will be ready to slip straight into bed and dream about Halloween fun.

 Grow Your Own Pumpkins

As October draws to a close, an authentic jack-o’-lantern is all but required in most families.  Scooping out the seeds and flesh from the pumpkin can be a great sensory activity for smaller children, and then you can use some of the seeds to make snacks.  However, if you save a handful of seeds, you can also try farming your own pumpkins for next Halloween.  Not only is it a fun project that can teach your kids about biology and gardening, but by growing your own pumpkin patch you may be able to save some money come next fall.

Pumpkins cannot stand frost, so, depending on where you live, you should wait until late spring or early summer to plant them.  Make sure that you plant the pumpkins in a very sunny area with plenty of space, as the vines can grow very long.  If the pumpkins are well taken care of, by the time next Halloween rolls around you may have your own pumpkin patch for decorating, jack-o’-lanterns, or just to make some delicious pumpkin pie. Once the pumpkins have a solid rind and a deep color, they should be ready for harvesting.  What you do with them next is up to you.

Pumpkin Boats

A pumpkin with the top sliced off and hollowed out should easily float on water.  If you give each of the children in your family their own small pumpkin, you can have a day of family fun decorating and racing pumpkin boats.  Gather supplies like small sticks to make masts, sheets of construction paper for sails, magic markers, and Lego characters or action figures.  Then, everyone can start decking out their pumpkin boats with their own personal styles.  Skulls and cross bones can be added to turn it into a pumpkin pirate boat, or add a pink sail with sparkles around the edge to make a pumpkin princess boat.  With a parents help, kids can also cut out jagged edges around it and add spirits, monsters or werewolves to turn the boat into a haunted ghost ship. Once everyone has their ships ready, you can race them in a local pool or nearby pond.  Just make sure that you leave a string attached to help retrieve them if they get too far away!

Pumpkins are the symbol for Halloween and maybe even the whole month of October. With these crafts and activities, you and your whole family can get wrapped up in the fall spirit and have a blast crafting, growing, and racing pumpkins!

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