We love October! The colours, sounds of leaves crunching and the abundance of pumpkins. In the UK over the last few years they have become even more popular at this time of year with pumpkin picking springing up and lots of different and interesting types of pumpkins coming to the UK.
This has presented so many new and creative ideas for learning and development for early years in particular so in this blog post we will showcase some of the best creative ideas that we have found on the internet, or created ourselves, that will not only be fun for your preschooler/toddler but will also encourage different types of learning.
First up, and with thanks to Laura from InspireMyPlay we have a wonderful small world set up using a carved pumpkin (carved under adult supervision) that acts as a house for play with the Autumn Fairies (something that we have enjoyed making in our classes too). Laura has used a mix of natural resources such as wooden slices and pine cones mixed with items that could be repurposed from other children's activities such as dolls houses or train sets or picked up from second hand stores meaning this activity can spark children's imagination to play with fairies in a wonderful pumpkin world for not a great expense.
How to play - You could either set the small world up as a surprise for your toddler or encourage them to help you create the scene, then over to them to play how ever they want, creating stories that you could then use to develop vocabulary or even then create art about this small world.
Next up, and with thanks to The.Absorbent.Mom we have a great process art activity that develops not only creativity, but colour awareness, fine motor skills and the pincer grip of toddlers and pre-schoolers too.
This one is a great one to do to use up all those seeds that you scooped out when carving the pumpkin house for our fairy set up!
To make the colourful pumpkin seeds follow the below steps:
1) After scooping out the seeds from a pumpkin, divide the seeds into 3 different bowls (or as many different colours that you want to use).
2) Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to each bowl and mix through.
3) Add food colouring until you are happy and stir, making sure it is all covered.
4) Microwave for 30-40 seconds making sure that they don't overheat. Then leave the seeds to dry overnight on baking paper.
Once the seeds are dried then to create this Pumpkin Seed Sticky Tree Art take some paper and draw/paint on it the outline of a tree. The Absobent Mum uses contact paper to lay over the tree to be sticky but you could use glue to stick the seeds directly to the paper tree or no glue at all for a purely process art craft that can be used again and again. You could even use a dry paint brush to sweep the seeds into position. If doing the latter, with no glue, then once they have placed all of their seeds in their position and finished, you could then encourage your child to put them away into their colour bowls, maybe add child friendly tweezers to improve those finger muscle pincer grips further.
The last activity is one that we did in our Nature Makers classes and had such good fun we just had to share!
Why not create art onto your pumpkins themselves. This can present quite an abstract art piece that teaches children that any object can be seen in a creative way and painting onto a 3D object presents new challenges for early years. Here we used glue with ripped up tissue paper and leaves to decorate our pumpkins but you could also use paints or anything else that you can find in your art stash!
So you can see there are plenty of ways to use pumpkins with your pre-schooler that are both fun and enhance learning.
Remember we had waste, and I am sure you do to so for all of these activities once you have finished with them don't forget you have plenty of options for use instead of the bin:
1) Scoop out the flesh and make a delicious pumpkin soup or pumpkin cake (just like carrot cake).
2) Make a bird feeder but chopping in half and hanging up with string and filling with bird seeds.
3) Chop up and place out for wildlife (make sure nothing like glue/paint or anything else that could be dangerous to wildlife is placed outside).
4) Compost! The worms will love it :)
Thank you for reading, we love seeing what you get up to with your children so don't forget to share your photos with us by tagging @NatureMakers on Instagram or Facebook and we will share all of our favourites.