I love fall. I love pumpkins. But I hate, hate, hate carving pumpkins. Sharp knives, lots of goop, and one kid with sensory issues? No thanks! But what else is there to do with pumpkins and little ones? Plenty!
Supplies: tiny pumpkins, washable paint, paint brushes, ice cube tray, plastic tablecloth
This is a time honored tradition in my family. We buy the cheap, tiny pumpkins and each kid gets two or three. We lay out a plastic tablecloth and paint outside. I give each child a paintbrush and squirt a few colors in an old ice cube tray. Then they get their paint on! If you’re feeling dangerous, sprinkle some glitter on before the pumpkins dry. Make sure to display your pumpkins either inside or on a covered porch so any fall rains don’t cause the paint to run (says the mom whose front porch had neon pink splotches last fall).
Supplies: 9 empty water bottles, 1-2 pie pumpkins
Nothing complicated here! Set up your empty water bottles in a triangle formation (or a line…your kids don’t care). I like to add an inch or two of water to each bottle to make this a bit more challenging for my oldest. We use the round pie pumpkins because they are usually the most spherical and fit well in kids’ hands. Have fun!
Supplies: Pumpkins, gourds, etc.
This is a great activity to do at a pumpkin patch, farm, or simply when you’re setting up your fall front porch decor! Tip: if you’re going to a farm or pumpkin patch, take your kid(s) right when it opens to avoid crowds. This activity is a disaster in crowded spaces! As you choose your pumpkins, ask your child simple sorting questions like this:
- Which of these is the biggest? Which of these is the smallest? (or: Can you help me line these up from biggest to smallest?)
- Offer 3-5 gourds or small pumpkins of differing shades of the same color: Can you help me sort these from darkest to lightest?
- Offer another selection of grounds or tiny pumpkins: Can you help me sort these into a pile of smooth gourds and a pile of bumpy gourds?
This should go without saying, but make sure to clean up after yourself — put everything back where you found it and definitely be sure to purchase something before leaving!
Supplies: pumpkins, dish soap, sponges or scrubby brushes, plastic bin of any size
This activity is very popular with the 2-4 year old crowd (who, let’s be honest, love anything to do with water!). I set up a large plastic bin outside (the under-the-bed container type), but you could do this in your kids’ water table, the old baby bath tub, or even in the bath with your kids! Add a little soap, give kids sponges or scrubby brushes, and let them go to town! This activity mimics real life and little ones love to feel like they are doing what mom or dad does. You can also tie in any of the above activities after the pumpkins are washed–or just let your child wash them again!
Pumpkin Sticky Wall
Supplies: clear contact paper, painter’s tape, permanent marker, and construction paper or tissue paper
Rainy fall day? Can’t get out to an actual pumpkin patch? I got you. Use a permanent marker to draw a large pumpkin on the non-sticky side of clear contact paper. Carefully peel off the backing from the contact paper. Using painter’s tape (or masking tape), tape the contact paper to the wall with the sticky side facing OUT. Now your child can “create” their pumpkin! You can either pre-tear or pre-cut small squares of orange and yellow construction paper or let your child tear the paper themselves (this help to strengthen little fingers!). With an older child, offer pre-cut tissue paper and when the pumpkin is totally filled, cut it out and you have a beautiful homemade sun-catcher for your living room window! Susie from Busy Toddler used this method to make super cute butterflies! There are tons of variations on this. Check out Happy Toddler Playtime’s Pumpkin Shapes Sticky Wall.
Looking for more fun activities? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Fall in Northwest Ohio!