Creative Ideas for Pumpkin Decorating with Young Children
So you’ve gone to the pumpkin patch (or a patch of your local grocery store) and brought home a lovely little (or possibly quite large) orange orb of a pumpkin. Now what?
If you have a toddler in the home, like myself, you may not be too keen on pulling out the sharp knives for an experience in pumpkin carving. If that’s the case, here are a few ideas for you on pumpkin decorating with a toddler.
Set your little one loose on their pumpkin with some washable markers. As they draw you can talk about the different colours they’re choosing and the kinds of marks they’re making.
The nice thing about these markers is that, when your tot has inevitably moved from marking their pumpkin creation to drawing on their hands, face, the table, and anything else around that can be reached, you can wash away the marks fairly easily.
You can even wipe off the coloured pumpkin with a wet cloth and redecorate it, much like a dry-erase board.
Beyond the fine motor skills they’re using to do their pumpkin decorating, these are being further developed by the motivating task of taking off and putting on the marker lids.
Mr. Potato Head Pumpkin
Have some Mr. Potato Head pieces laying around? Grab them up and poke some holes in your pumpkin to use these interchangeable pieces to create many different faces on your jack-o-lantern.
This is pretty well the same idea as the washable markers, only with another drawing tool. I found this idea at our local Strong Start program and was impressed with how easily my toddler could use these mark-makers. They glide the colour onto the surface of the pumpkin so smoothly and effortlessly, making them very motivating for me to use. The colours show up fantastically on the pumpkin, too.
Find some spooky Halloween stickers, or simple sticker shapes for creating patterns or a face, and let your toddler stick to their heart’s content. Stickers are a fantastic way to help encourage fine motor skills, which are a prerequisite to writing. You can read all about engaging your toddler with stickers here.
Hand- and Footprint Jack-o-Lantern
Okay, so this one does involve actually carving the pumpkin, but it was too cute to pass over. When I originally saw this idea on Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram or one of the other many ways to keep in touch and occupy your time), I immediately wanted to recreate it with my own little Z’s handprints and footprints.
There may be an easier way to make this happen, but this is how I figured it out myself.
First, grab some non-toxic washable paint and help your toddler make a print of each of their hands and feet. Really, you only need one of each (you can flip it over to make a mirror image for the other hand or foot), but I did a print of all four parts and used the best of each set. You could try making the print right on the pumpkin, but I didn’t feel like this was going to be very easy, so I nixed that idea pretty quickly.
When the paint dries, cut out a hand and a footprint, following close to the edge of the print. Trace the hand onto the pumpkin as two eyes (remember to flip hand over to make mirror image) and the feet heel-to-heel to make a mouth.
Cut off the top of the pumpkin and remove all the seeds and innards. Doing this with your little one present can be an exciting learning experience and a chance for some special family bonding. Now is the time to start traditions, if you haven’t already, so if carving pumpkins is something you’d like to carry on together each year, you may as well make a go of it right now.
When it comes to the more particular carving of cutting out the hand and foot prints, this is something best done without impatient little hands present. You may want to save this for after bedtime, so you can focus on making all those little cuts.
To carve out the toes, we found that we needed a drill to cut out those small circle shapes. With the right tool, this was easy enough.
Adding a candle the next night, toddler Z was excited to see the jackolantern with her handprints and footprints carved out, shining the glowing light out of it’s clever smile.