Special Guest Post
By: Karen Braga
Pumpkins also known as Jack O’ Lanterns are often used during the month of October. Whether it’s to decorate the dinner table for Thanksgiving or to put it on your porch for Halloween; pumpkins have been a tradition for many years. There are hundreds of different ways you can decorate or carve your pumpkin, I will name just a few of my favorites that work best for toddlers.
Buying a Pumpkin
Pumpkins come in different sizes and prices. Just like Christmas when many families go out to find that perfect tree, Halloween can just be as exciting to pick the perfect pumpkin for your home. Your typical large size pumpkin can be anywhere from $3.00 (CDN) to $6.00 (CDN) at your local store and your tiny pumpkins can be anywhere from $0.89 (CDN) to $1.00 (CDN). When buying a pumpkin with your toddler, have them see the different sizes and have them help you pick one.
However, if you and your family have a free Saturday afternoon, I recommend going to the pumpkin patch farm. They have a variety of activities that children and toddlers can do such as picking a pumpkin, hay rides, decorating your pumpkin, etc. Some great ones to check out would be (in no particular order): Downey’s Farm Market, Springridge Farm, and Warner Ranch Pumpkin Farm. These ones are located in Ontario, Canada but you can always google to see what pumpkin farms might be in your area.
Personalizing Your Pumpkin
Decorating a pumpkin can be hard work, messy but nevertheless a lot of fun. You can make your pumpkin into a super hero, scary monster or even sparkle like a princess.
Here are my top five easy ways to decorate your pumpkin with your toddler:
1. Sticky but no mess!
For my niece, who was one at the time, I carved the face and opened the top part of the pumpkin in front of her. This way she got to see the process. Once I finished carving the pumpkin’s face, I had placed the pumpkin in front of her and encouraged her to help me take out the pumpkin seeds. Toddlers learn a lot through their senses and this step is great sensory play for them. Unfortunately, she did not like the feeling of the gooey pumpkin seeds, so she watched as I took them out. Now came the fun part for her! I got a bunch of different Halloween themed stickers from my local dollar store to put on the pumpkin as her special touch. She had a blast doing it and yet it was very simple to do.
2. Sparkle like a Princess
This idea is not only very simple but also very pretty. All you need is some glue, glitter and jewel accessories. First and for most make sure you have a good size working space that is laid out with some newspaper. This next step is optional, you can choose to cut out the top of the pumpkin and take out the seeds or you can leave the pumpkin in tacked with no openings. Next wipe down your pumpkin with a damp cloth and then with a dry one, so you have a clean surface to work with. With hand over hand guide your toddler with the brush and add some glue to the pumpkin (work from top to bottom) and work in small patches. Then again with hand over hand shake the glitter bottle over the glued areas. Repeat these steps until you have the whole pumpkin covered. To add some jewels have your toddler choose the ones that they would like to use and have them hand it to you as you hot glue it on the pumpkin. Once completed let it sit for about 20 minutes then spray the pumpkin with hair spray to prevent the glitter from coming off. Then it’s ready to sit for decoration.
3. Thanksgiving/Halloween flower pot
Toddlers love bright colors and different things to touch. This pumpkin is super easy to do but will also be beautiful to have around the house. First cut off the top part of the pumpkin and remove all seeds. Put a round bowl or fish bowl in the pumpkin with water. Together with your toddler pick some fall colored flowers from a super market and put them in the bowl of water. Your pumpkin now looks like a vase for your flowers.
4. Art attack
This activity can be messy but a LOT of fun for both you and your toddler. First you need to place your pumpkin on some newspaper. I recommend to wear either old clothes or an apron because this one is all about painting! You and your toddler could either paint with brushes or with your fingers but either way it’s a personal touch that will make your pumpkin one of a kind. Whether you choose to carve the pumpkin ahead of time or just have a full pumpkin intact, your toddler will have a blast mixing colors of paint on the pumpkin. If your toddler is into superheroes, paint or cut out some eyes and then paint on a mask on your pumpkin.
5. Tissue Paper Creative
For this one all you need is glue, tissue paper and scissors (for you of course). Ask your toddler how they want the pumpkins face to look like, for example; happy, scary, or sad. After you create the face they have picked, carve it out and remove the seeds. Have your toddler choose the color of tissue papers they want to work with and then cut some shapes out with that paper. Together, hand over hand place some glue with your brush over some areas on the pumpkin. Then have your toddler put the tissue paper on the glued areas. You can add some more glue on top of these pieces if it seems like it’s not sticking right away. Repeat steps until your toddler is done decorating the pumpkin. To add more creativity you can glue on some Halloween eye balls or foam shapes found at your local dollar store.
Remember that toddlers love sensory play and they can get a lot of that with pumpkins. They can even help you wash the pumpkin seeds and add some seasoning with you for some yummy baking.
Until next time… Happy spooking!
About the Author
Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Karen is passionate and knowledgeable about Halloween. Combined with her ECE background and passion on Halloween, she has recently become an expert writer on the topic for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can help families enjoy this holiday.