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Preschoolers and Pumpkins

Pumpkins in the fall are like dandelions in spring... they pop up everywhere you go! Pumpkin patches spring up on the side of every freeway off ramp and every home seems adorned with orange globes sitting on the doorstep. From the first visit to the pumpkin-clad department stores (in, what, August?), I look so forward to the day we get to choose the best pumpkin and roll in onto our own porch to enjoy for a while.


As exciting as it is for us grownups to see and decorate with these lovely fall fruit, pumpkins are SOOOOO exciting for our little ones! Some are much bigger than they are and they hold so much mystery! From the smooth feeling of the pumpkin skin to the spooky glow of their smiles once they are carved - pumpkins are an experience in and of themselves for preschoolers. But why not expound on their learning experiences around this excitement?! It makes great fun exploring all you can do with a pumpkin. Here are some ideas!

Pumpkin Science!

Before doing anything with the pumpkin, create a hypothesis. Ask your kids to guess what is inside. If your kids are little, their answers will be hilarious! My preschoolers said "toys' and "a baby unicorn."... pretty fun to write down and see where their minds are at. After you've explained what a guess is - try these science activities!

  • Measure the outside (circumference) of the pumpkin with a string, then compare the length to a ruler. Measure other round objects to see what is bigger and smaller.

  • If the pumpkin is small enough, see if the pumpkin will sink or float. Ask what they think first, then try it out.

  • Open up the pumpkin and see what is inside (for real), Make a pumpkin lifecycle book as you talk about the parts of the pumpkin. Get a great free resources for that here.

  • Carve your pumpkin, then slowly watch it decompose, taking pictures of each day and making a notebook retelling their observations of the process.


  • Count the seeds

  • If multiple pumpkins are available, order the pumpkins from smallest to largest.

  • Cut a pumpkin pie (real or play dough) and talk about basic fractions

  • 5 little pumpkins finger play (some ideas for that here and here)

  • make a pumpkin pie - measure all the ingredients together.

Sensory and Dramatic Play

  • Use multiple small pumpkins and a simple fake vine to make a pumpkin patch. Include a small rake and a packet of Dollar Tree leaves to practice raking (they will enjoy the gathering and tossing up of the leaves, too!)

  • For kids who don't like to get messy, put the pumpkin innards into a bag and let them squish and feel it without the sticky, gooey mess.

  • cut small pumpkins in half horizontally and let them float like boats in a tub of water. Add items to float inside.

  • Pumpkin spice play dough (recipe here)

Art and Motor Skills:

  • Paint a pumpkin (one of my favorites) - use washable paint and let them go crazy. Then, after it dries, let them wash it off with soap and a scrubber. 2 activities in one and no pumpkins lost! - awesome gross motor if done on a large pumpkin!

  • Color a paper plate and add a jack-o-lantern face, then hole punch around the outside and practice lacing. - great fine motor

Language Arts:

  • Vocabulary: talk all about the pumpkin, its shape, size, parts, and lifecycle.

  • Early reading: recite the "5 Little Pumpkins" rhyme often,

  • Early reading: point out the word pumpkin (or the letter P) everywhere you see it.

  • Writing: put pumpkin seeds onto a letter P or trace the letter P onto the side of a pumpkin using a washable marker.

  • Literature: A few of my favorite books:

  • "My Jack-o-Lantern" by Nancy J. Skarmeas

  • "The Biggest Pumpkin Ever" by Steven Kroll

  • "The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin." by Joe Troiano

There you have it! TONS of fun ideas to get you started! Have fun with your pumpkins! Got any more ideas?! Add them to the list below! Happy Harvest!!

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