- Pumpkins – They aren’t just for carving: Slimy, Gross, Fun!
Pumpkin carving is always messy, so I made sure to prepare a work space that allowed the kids to get messy, while keeping my kitchen fairly clean. To do this I cut a large, outdoor garbage bag down the sides, opened it up, and laid it on the kitchen floor. You could also set-up outside if it’s a beautiful day.
Next, I put together several cookie sheets with various measuring cups, spoons and other small bowls – I love a good a sensory table. This type of set-up allows the kids to utilize pouring and scooping motions while playing, which are wonderful teaching tools for creative play, not to mention promote cognitive skills.
The Cutting of the Pumpkin
After cutting off the top of the pumpkin, I let the children each take turns dipping their hands in, feeling around and pulling up the insides of the pumpkin. Be sure to use nature’s best tools, your hands, to remove all of the pumpkin seeds. Next have your children help sort the pulp from the seeds, and rinse the pumpkin seeds for a true sensory experience!
You’ll find this sensory activity isn’t for every child. While some children dig in with no problem , others hesitate because of the way the pumpkin feels. Providing rubber gloves can help give the kids who hesitate the courage to explore. Or, you can place the innards inside a Ziploc gallon bag. This allows the kids to explore the textures without the boundaries of sensory aversions.
After counting all of our pumpkin seeds, I put the pumpkin seeds into a Ziploc gallon bag for another tactile experience. This is a great way for very young children to play creatively with the pumpkins. Plus, you don’t have to worry about them putting anything into their mouths. For added insurance on durability, close off the top of the bag with packaging tape or duct tape.
After we sorted all of the seeds from the pulp, I placed the insides of our pumpkin into one Ziploc gallon bag, and our seeds into another. The density of the pulp gave me a great idea; I could turn this sensory activity into an I Spy game!
I Spy – Fun Games to play creatively with your pumpkin
To make the game, you will need to find several, small items that can “hide” inside the pulp, but can be discovered without harming the bag with pokes or tears. I was able to find several small, household, everyday items.
Step 1: Simply place your items inside the bag with the pulp and mix around. To help keep things organized, I wrote out a list of the items inside the bag, and my children had to try and find each item on the list. If we couldn’t find an item, we skipped it and came back.
For my 2-year-old, I had her tell me what she objects she was finding and I checked the items off the list. This gave her the feeling of empowerment by saying, “look what I found!”
*Note: When we tried to have more playtime on the next day we found that the pumpkin pulp had liquefied, and no longer smelled like pumpkin pie!”! Maybe I should have refrigerated it? The kids loved this activity, so we will be playing again with our next pumpkin carving session!