Playing with Pumpkins
While it's fun to visit a pumpkin patch, it's even easier to explore a pumpkin at home
Fall is a great time to explore the textures, smells, tastes, sounds, and sights of the season! From apples to pumpkins, cooler air to crunchy fall leaves, getting out and having meaningful experiences in the outdoors is a wonderful way for your child to explore nature with their senses and develop important concepts.
We love pumpkins because they come in so many shapes and sizes! While it’s fun to visit a pumpkin patch, it’s even easier to explore a pumpkin in your own home. First, position your child so they can look at the pumpkin and touch it with their hands or feet. You can sit behind your child to offer support, or if your child is more independent your child can explore the pumpkin seated in their own chair with a tray or table in front of them.
Give your child the opportunity to feel the entire pumpkin. Your child can touch the hard outer shell of the pumpkin. They can explore the bright orange color, the ridges or bumps on the outside, the size and shape of the pumpkin, its weight, and the stem at the top.
If your child is reluctant to touch the pumpkin, gently guide your child’s exploration using hand under hand. “Hop on my hands while we touch this big pumpkin!” Talk about the color of the pumpkin. Maybe the pumpkin has ridges or bumps on the skin. Is your pumpkin big or little? How heavy is your pumpkin? The stem on top is scratchy!
Repetition is very important! Give your child the chance to explore the pumpkin several times (over the course of days or weeks) so they can become familiar with the different “pumpkin” characteristics.
Once your child is comfortable with the outside of a pumpkin, it’s time to find out what’s inside! Cut a large hole around the pumpkin’s stem and allow your child to help pull the top off. Talk about what you may find inside (pumpkin seeds, orange gooey flesh).
Some children will reach right in while others may need to move at a slower pace or require a lot of wait time before touching or feeling the inside of the pumpkin. If your child needs to move at a slower pace, scoop some of the insides out onto a tray or cookie sheet. Again, use hand under hand to show your child how to touch, poke, pat, or squeeze the pumpkin flesh. You can even put the flesh in a Zip-loc bag to smoosh or smash without getting hands messy.
Talk about how stringy and wet the pulp is. It smells sweet! Can you guess how many seeds are in the pumpkin? What do we make with pumpkins on Thanksgiving? When you make pumpkin pie, why does the pumpkin filling come from a can?
Here are some other fun ways to play with a pumpkin: