How will your family PLAY with a pumpkin, or two, or more? AND WHY would we want to?
Oh, YES, it may already be your family tradition to have delightful family pictures with pumpkins. It is so wonderful to compare them from year to year as our beauties grow. And some folks like to cook and/or eat delicious pumpkin pies and treats. And other folks like to decorate their pumpkins, on the outside, and from within. ALL of those are delightful ways to enjoy pumpkins.
But have you just sat with your child in the midst of a variety of pumpkins and considered… how can we PLAY with these in this Moment? At a pumpkin patch, you are not necessarily welcome to just start playing freely with the pumpkins, as they need to be kept in good condition for all. But… what about the pumpkins you gather to really get creative with at home. It’s time to think outside the “decorating” box. But you may be wondering WHY? My journey to discovering this answer lies in my own pumpkin journey, and in the creativity the children have shown me.
Building Your Pumpkin Playground
A wide variety of real pumpkins, from small enough to be held in the hand even by our babies, to pumpkins so large that our 6 year olds cannot lift them are added to our Kindermusik room in Lakeland during October each year. Our pumpkin patch also includes:
- little crocheted pumpkins that one amazing grandmother created for us years ago. (I still see her face, and bless her each year.)
- lightweight pumpkins you can get at the craft store – for weight comparisons
- large jingly pumpkin bells which just beg to be shaken and heard,
- books about pumpkins and
- a little teddy bear in a pumpkin costume,
- baskets and buckets to put them in.
This list may help you decide what you may put in YOUR family’s PUMPKIN PLAYGROUND.
2020 UPDATE: There are so few pumpkin patches this year, but there are several stores I have found that have pumpkins, and for a pretty good price. Sam’s Club has LARGE pumpkins, Dollar Market has some nice medium size pumpkins for less than $4. There are several produce stands in Lakeland I have seen with pumpkins. Please share in the comments about any places you are aware of.
Lakeland MOM is fantastic at researching and sharing information about our local PUMPKIN PATCH options around Lakeland, FL, which is exceptionally tricky in this year of 2020. I used to try to do this as well, and I am SOOO happy she is doing this, and so much more. If you are not checking her website, and part of her Lakeland Mom Facebook group, you are missing out ALL YEAR LONG!
Benefits of Pumpkin Play
You may be wondering what benefits would there be to make all these different pumpkin pleasantries available for open ended exploration?
When children are offered the option to play with a new object, they are asking the questions, “What is it?” “What can I DO with it?” Because of their lack of experience with it, they are OPEN to exploring it in ways we may not consider. Because of their previous experiences, they may start with how they explore and play with other similar objects.
“Roll That Pumpkin with Your Friends” – can be sung as children decide which size pumpkin they will roll, and how they will roll it, and who they will roll it to. Many of them, even the 1 year olds may trying their best to lift each one, or decide how to move it, or what to do with it if they cannot lift it. Some must roll it with both hands, or their feet if it is very heavy, or roll over the top of it with their belly.
Other children love to put them in and out of a little crocheted bag, or buckets or a basket. Which pumpkin fits where? Which pumpkin can I balance in my hand, or on dad’s head? Which pumpkin can I sit on, and which pumpkin can I hide? How many pumpkins and objects can I stack together?
What sounds can I make? What sound does it make if I pat it like a drum, or bump them together, or tap it with a stick?
To them, it all seems like play, but as we know, PLAY is the child’s KEY to learning. To their young brain, this type of multi-sensory playground is the best way to build a solid foundation of MATH concepts (even before counting them)… including geometry… a full body understanding of the differences in size, weight, density, texture and so much more.
They are also exploring spatial relationships, how to move them, and how to move around them… up/down, over/under, in/out, around and through.
This is excellent for activating both sides of the brain; both the creative, and the analytical areas of the brain wake up to play ! ADD music, and a playful partner, then this play and learning last so much longer… both in the time of play, and the connections created in the brain.
As you continue this play again, and again, and again, we are exercising our skills for creativity, inviting us to enjoy what we know, and try even more new ideas. As we continue to find more and more ways to play, we are developing a perspective of UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES. This perspective is a gift for our children, and will propel them to solve problems and be resilient as they work to overcome life’s hurdles.
My delight in pumpkins all started with our very first Pumpkin Party Playdate in 2004. I had come to recognize the need to engage all children in a unique way during October, since not all families celebrate Halloween. I believe all children should be able to celebrate the joys of this season in a creative way that includes fun costumes and does not introduce things that may be too scary for our youngest friends. And although I despise Pumpkin pie, I have a love for all other things Pumpkin, so the idea of an INCLUSIVE Pumpkin Party was born.
Funny thing… it is the children who taught me how to really PLAY with PUMPKINS, and how valuable it can be, regardless of any holiday involvement.
As an adult, I was beginning to realize how Pumpkins are a mystical magical fruit, in that they can be so many different things. We can expand our play by looking at the entire life cycle of pumpkins.
There is certainly a magic in the nature of planting the seed and watching it grow, helping it in the garden along the way.
There is magic in how it can be transformed into a Pumpkin pie or Pumpkin cookies. And there is magic in how it can be transformed into a jolly glowing face, or a work of art. I was also finding that much of the magic of its transformations can be celebrated in songs and music. So the songs and activities in our Pumpkin Party Playdate grew into an agenda I was happy to share, and families were thrilled to be a part of this unique option and perspective.
YES, this agenda has been a delightful seasonal excursion for famlies for over a decade, and we’d love it if you’d like to join us one of these years.
It always amazes me when you get children around pumpkins and open their opportunities for PLAY… and become a playful partner that encourages their explorations. THAT is when the real magic happens.
Music, itself, is a grand multi-sensory playground for developing a foundation for spatial relationships and math. Quality research studies have repeatedly shown improved ability for math with those students who also progress in music. In Kindermusik, we like to take everyday objects and combine them with music to help you create rich multi-sensory playgrounds for you and your children to play, for the benefit of the WHOLE child, and so your family experiences it together in a way that all just seems like FUN.
For more online resources for Pumpkin Play, enjoy these links:
Rhymes and songs you can use anytime
Ideas for physical ways to play with pumpkins
This article has been adapted to feature some cool online jack-o-lantern play.
Music for Celebrating Seasons
- One Saturday each month
- Register for one or more
9:30 – Babies up to 20 months
10:30 – Mixed ages: 1 – 5 years
This could be your first Kindermusik experience to enjoy together, or… This could become an anticipated monthly family ritual.