So, you’ve gone to the pumpkin patch. Your toddler went through great lengths to choose the most perfect pumpkin. They ran up and down rows and rows of golden gourds, being sure not to leave one pumpkin unturned. Now what? You carve it, of course! Yet, carving a pumpkin isn’t just about carving a pumpkin. There are so many lessons to be learned from carving a pumpkin if we take a closer look!
Here you will learn about 5 amazing benefits pumpkin carving can have on your littles!
POV: You are setting everything up to curate the best pumpkin carving experience ever for your little one. You’ve laid out the paper, pumpkin, and tools on the table. You turn to fetch their learning tower. You turn back around, and to your dismay, you catch your child wielding the large pumpkin carving knife whilst standing on the kitchen chair. “Look, Mommy!” he yells as he swings the knife above his head, “I’m ready to carve the pumpkin with you!” Your immediate reaction is to lose your shit because… well, because your kid is SWINGING A KNIFE. Instead, you take a deep breath, walk over calmly, and you teach. This brings us to the first benefit of pumpkin carving.
1. Teaches Knowledge of Knife and Tool Safety
Before starting the carving process, sit down with your little and talk about the tools that you are going to be using. What is each tool used for? What do they look like? How can they be used responsibly?
Talk about the safe ways to handle the tools, where they can be used, and when they can be used. Make sure to add that the tools should only be used with the help of an adult. Since we are dealing with toddlers, I recommend carving hand over hand with them. If you choose to go that route, make sure they know that this will be the expectation before you start carving to prevent any melt downs. I often get the, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF, MAMA,” and while I look to promote independence as often as possible, I draw the line at knife wielding. To each his own!
2. Promotes Sensory Awareness
According to research, sensory play helps children to understand the world around them by using/stimulating their five senses. Sensory awareness in children is important because it aids in cognitive development, helps develop fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, language, emotion regulation and more. So basically, sensory play is the answer to all of your problems. Bored toddler? Sensory play. Hyper toddler? Sensory play. Need to kill time/ keep your kid occupied? Sensory play. All day. Everyday.
Pumpkin carving can expose your child to many different sensory experiences that will help to develop awareness of their bodies and the environment in which they live.
When you are choosing a pumpkin, make sure you talk about the size, shape, color, and texture. How does the pumpkin feel? Smooth? Rough? Heavy? Light?
The act of carving the pumpkin will encourage your child to use muscles in their upper body while providing proprioceptive input. This will help develop their fine motor skills. Once you’ve cut into the pumpkin, have your kiddo put their hands inside to feel the innards. Talk about what they are experiencing in the moment. Does it feel slimy? Sticky? Wet? Cold? Encourage them to use the tools you provided to help scoop out the guts and seeds.
3. Increases Counting and Sorting Skills
Pumpkin seeds are the perfect manipulatives for counting and sorting with your toddler. For this portion of our pumpkin carving activity, I took a sharpie and drew a ten-frame on the paper covering our table (fancy, I know ;)). Next, I drew pumpkin seeds with the numbers 1 – 10 in the middle. Then, I wrote a prompt that said, “Show me____pumpkin seeds!” I had my son choose a number and count the seeds while moving them into the ten frame. Make sure they touch each seed as they count to double check their work. This is a great activity because you can meet your child where they are developmentally. You can customize which numbers to practice with them, and you can make it even more challenging by creating addition and subtraction problems.
As for sorting, grab a plate or cookie tray. Have your child dig through the innards of the pumpkin to separate the guts from the seeds. Place the seeds on the tray and save for later. You can create another sensory activity by roasting the pumpkin seeds and talking to your child about how they taste. I would link my roasted pumpkin seed recipe, but we did them in the air fryer for the first time and let’s just say they were a liiiiiiiiittle bit crispy. If you have any tried and true pumpkin seed recipes, I would love for you to share in the comments!
4. Develops Confidence
When all is said and done, the pumpkin has been carved, and your sitting in the middle of pumpkin guts, seeds, and slime; take a moment to recognize all of the hard work that went into the process from start to finish.
Get a candle, light that bad boy up, turn off the lights, and PRAISE!
Your going to boost your kid’s confidence through the roof when you say things like:
“Wow, that was a lot of hard work!”
“You stuck with it the entire time and created your very own pumpkin!”
“How does it feel to see your pumpkin all lit up?! You must be feeling so proud!”
“You learned so much about pumpkin carving today! I bet you’ll know exactly what to do the next time.”
“You felt really frustrated when we were having trouble carving the small details of your pumpkin. You didn’t give up, tried a different tool that worked better, and finished what you set out to do!”
5. Creates Memories and Strengthens Your Bond
Finally, and most importantly, pumpkin carving gives you an opportunity to slow down, break your everyday routines, connect, and make memories with your child that will last a lifetime! ❤
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