With our youngest children, hands-on play with pumpkins is FAR better then any kind of decorating. They will LEARN so much more by playing with a wide variety of pumpkin and pumpkin accessories in OUR Pumpkin Playground, or one you create for your own family.
At the beginning of October each year, I set out to find just the right real Pumpkins for our annual Pumpkin Party Kindermusik Playdate ! This year, I had a new goal, to find a variety of sizes, from very small to very large. I was led, in part by a desire to demonstrate a growing pumpkin in the field as I read “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Stephen Kroll. And, as I, and my students, continued to explore the opportunities of playing with pumpkins… REAL ones, and NON-real ones, there was so much more that we learned with these unique vegetables.
I LOVE the book, “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Stephen Kroll because of the story line, AND how easy it is to make the book come alive. I love the story of two separate characters who work hard, over time, to make their hopes come true. It is an excellent example of the work and persistence needed to grow something in a garden. And I LOVE how they handle the conflict when they discover that someone else is involved with the SAME pumpkin. The book often switches between day and night, and it adds a fun visual element, when reading it, to turn the light on and off in coordination with these changes. This year, I opted for storytelling instead of reading. The class was divided, one half was invited to be the country mice, and the other half to be the country mice, and each side had their turn to come up to the pumpkin and pull weeds, water it, etc. And, yes, it was fun to switch out a smaller pumpkin for a slightly larger one along with each change in the book. The best part was watching the looks on their faces as I rolled out the BIGGEST PUMPKIN EVER (at least the biggest pumpkin I could find in town). WOW !
Then I brought out ALL the pumpkins, from small to large, and we had fun rolling them all around our circle of friends. “Roll that Pumpkin round the Town”. Pumpkins offer a variety of sizes, of texture, and of weight that is not offered with typical ball play. The children were challenged to use their muscles differently with each size pumpkin; gently for the smaller ones, up to a LOT of effort for the BIG ones. It was fascinating to see them tackle this challenge. And I marveled at the science they were learning through these hands on explorations.
Click on this picture to play this Smilebox Slideshow I created with pictures of my students and families over time demonstrating fun and often humorous ways to play. You may have to download or activate your Adobe Flash in order to view.
During October, in our regular classes in Lakeland, Florida, we put out Ms. Debbie’s Pumpkin Playground for gathering time in each of my Kindermusik classes (ages range from infants up to 7 years old). Basket are filled with small and medium pumpkins, as well as hand sized bells in the shape of pumpkins, and our round wooden clackers so we can get into playing with pumpkins with our friends. The bigger pumpkins were rolled out separately. ALL could be rolled between family, and friends, instigating some fun social interactions. This variety gave them the opportunity to figure out which ones made sounds, and which didn’t; which ones they could pick up, which ones just had to be rolled, and which were just too heavy to move.
It was fun to watch each child reveal their preferences, whether they enjoyed the sound makers, or the small pumpkin rolling activities, or if they liked the challenge of the BIG pumpkins. For some, the challenge was finding a way to sit on it, some wanted to see how much they could stack on it, some just HAD to make it MOVE, or learn the easiest way to roll it to a friend. Some just wanted to pose for pictures ! I hope you enjoy the slide show as much as I do !
My Pumpkin Playground Basket also included some pumpkin accessories, a set of pumpkin glasses, large felt pumpkins with Peek-a-Boo holes, some pumpkin shaped cookie cutters, and a pumpkin decorated popper (a round rubber toy that you set up on the ground and let it pop up.) This offered a wider variety of explorations to meet the needs of each child where they were at that time. Some enjoyed peek-a-boo games. Older children had fun BEing the pumpkin ! Some just liked playing with the basket.
Check out this article I wrote more recently with more ideas and the many benefits your child can gain from hands on playing with pumpkins.
In the distant past, my perspective of pumpkin fun, the actual USE of pumpkins, was limited to decorating the outside of it, decorating WITH them, or enjoying the gooey pleasure of cutting it, emptying it, and carving a design in it. (I’m not a fan of pumpkin foods.) Making a real Jack-o-Lantern is fun, and young children can help with some aspects, but it is not really an appropriate activity for very young children. And they can’t play with it afterwards.
Although, I must admit, each year I am highly humored at some of the unique works created by pumpkin artists. My favorite this year was this “pumpkin birth”. It came across my Facebook feed, and I just had to share. Now that’s creative !
I did not fully plan, or expect, where the unique explorations of our pumpkin patch would lead us. Each year that I have held a musical Pumpkin Party, I have learned NEW and fun ways to explore pumpkins and the themes that surround them. This year, the fun of playing with real pumpkins, uncut, has really burst out of the box. I LOVE the way children help me expand my perspective. I look forward to seeing what I will learn next year !
Please SHARE your unique brand of pumpkin fun with us !